FG summons oil marketers, set to close equalisation fund

Following the deregulation of the downstream petroleum industry, the Federal Government has begun the process of closing down the Petroleum Equalization Fund, The PUNCH has learnt.

The move, it was gathered, was in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.

The PUNCH gathered the meeting held in Abuja between officials of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority and oil marketers on Wednesday deliberated on the closure of the fund.

The officials and marketers discussed the reconciliation of the PEF accounts and plans to close it in the next one month

“The meeting was a consultation with the NMDPRA on implementation of the PIA, clarifications of various issues, applying for licences, quality issues and closure of the Petroleum Equalization Fund,” a former Chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Tunji Oyebanji, told The PUNCH in a telephone interview.

“Some people owe PEF and it also owes some people. There is a need for reconciliation to close out the account,” Oyebanji explained.

Formed in 2021, NMDPRA encompasses a merger of three defunct regulatory agencies: Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, Petroleum Equalization Fund {Management} Board, and the Midstream and Downstream Divisions of the Department of Petroleum Resources

The National Controller of Operations, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mike Osatuyi, also told The PUNCH that the Fund currently owes its members about N80bn.

“We do not owe the Fund because before you lift products, you would have made deposits. But the Fund owes us N80bn which would be paid before the closure. The money piled up over some time but it has stopped piling up. The role played by the Fund has ended upon the full deregulation of the downstream sector as stated in the PIA,” Osatuyi said.

He confirmed that IPMAN was also invited to reconcile its account with the Fund.

“No need for the Fund again since we have deregulated. We don’t know when the money they owe us would be paid but it would be paid before the accounts are eventually closed. The process has started and our members have been invited,” he added.

PEF was set up by Decree 9 of 1975 (as amended by Decree Number 32 of 1989 now chapter 352 of the Laws of the Federation). Its main function was to ensure price uniformity of petroleum products via the reimbursement of marketers for losses they incurred in trucking products from depots to their filling stations anywhere in Nigeria.

A source in the Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria also confirmed that its members were invited for the reconciliation meeting.

“We already know the closing of the Fund would happen, and they have told us that it has even closed. We are now at the stage where our members and other depot owners are being invited to reconcile the account. They informed us that the account would be closed in the next 20 days, starting from yesterday (Wednesday) when the meeting was held,” the source told The PUNCH

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