The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Tuesday suspended operations of FINEFIELD Petroleum in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, southern Nigeria, for allegedly selling petroleum products above the depot price of N77.66.
Mr Antai Asuquo, DPR Controller Calabar and Eket, said in Calabar that the action was in line with the Federal Government’s renewed fight against corruption in the oil sector.
“We have concrete evidence beyond doubt that FINEFIELD Petroleum sold product out at N87 as against approved price of N77.66.
“They asked their customers to go and pay into two different First Bank accounts. That is, as they pay the normal price into one account, they pay the excess into another.
“That has been the practice in time past. They have been doing it and getting away with it but the DPR says it is now time to do business as it should be.
“If they want to continue doing business then they should do it in line with government’s rules and regulations.
“The product is being subsidised by government and there is no reason whatsoever why it should be sold above approved price.
“They must sell at the approved price of N77.66,” he said.
The controller added that the company must return all excess funds to government while the remaining products in their storage tank should be sold to the public at approved depot price.
He further stated that the company would pay a fine of N2 million to the government for flouting its directve while their operations would be reviewed after all considerations and deliberations.
“The FINEFIELD Petroleum that we have sealed today, they have some products in their storage which will be sold out to the public at the approved depot price of N77.66 under DPR supervision.
“After that, they will have to pay appropriate fine to the government and their operations will remain suspended for a long while before we will review their case and take other decisions concerning them.
The DPR condemned some marketers who bought products in excess of their storage capacity only to resell them in the open market called “spot market”.
He disclosed that the department had devised several measures to tackle various forms of corruption in the system, including diversion of products.
“We noticed that some marketers come to buy product in excess far above their storage capacities, using multiple licences.
“This people buy and recycle it in what they call spot market. We are introducing measures such that all depots will only sell to customers that pay from the customer’s registered account.
“This will eliminate processes whereby touts present DPR licences to collect products and resell at spot market; this will also reduce diversion of products drastically,” he said.
According to him, the DPR has stated that any diversion of petroleum products would attract a fine of N200 per litre, as part of measures to discourage marketers from diverting products.
Antai said the DPR would do everything possible to rid the oil sector of corruption in line with the current administration’s wind of change.
“Our staff are in the field to enforce the sale of petrol at the approved price of N87 and we are also calibrating their meters to ensure that, if they dispense one litre, it is one litre.
“It may take time but we are equal to the task; if we get any filling station that violates these rules, we will deal with them accordingly,” he said.
Mr John Omoruyi, FINEFIELD depot manager, expressed surprise at the action of the DPR and described the allegations as false.
“We are not even told that anybody is coming to us. He is supposed to come and inform us what he observed but there was nothing like that; he just jumped into the depot.
“We sell at N77.66; so I do not understand what he is talking about,” Omoruyi said.
He, however, condemned the bulk purchase of petroleum products by marketers, saying that the company would address the matter.
FINEFIELD Petroleum is one of the several tank-farms situated in the Calabar free trade zone.