Senate Investigates Importation Of Adulterated Diesel

The Senate has taken a decisive step to investigate the importation of adulterated diesel and fuel into Nigeria, a move aimed at protecting the economic prosperity of the nation.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio has consequently announced the formation of a 15-man committee, with Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central) appointed as the chairman.

The decision to establish the ad-hoc committee followed the adoption of a motion titled, “Need to investigate the continued importation of Hazardous Petroleum Products and dumping of substandard Diesel into Nigeria”, sponsored by Senator Asuquo Ekpeyong (Cross River South).

While presenting the Motion, Senator Ekpeyong had expressed deep concern over the ongoing importation of hazardous petroleum products and the dumping of substandard diesel in Nigeria. He highlighted a recent incident where 12 diesel cargoes, totaling 660kt, were exported by refineries to offshore Lome, Togo, for distribution in West African markets, particularly Nigeria. The quality of the diesel was reported to be below Nigerian standards in terms of flash and sulfur levels. Despite its substandard nature, this diesel still found its way into the Nigerian market.

Senator Ekpeyong further noted that the pricing of the imported diesel was below fair market value, constituting a violation of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules against dumping. He emphasised the need for Nigeria to protect its local industries and domestic producers against such unfair practices.

The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has recently revised the standards for diesel importation in line with the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021. However, enforcement of the standards has been lacking. Senator Ekpeyong proposed a total ban on diesel importation as long as the local refineries can meet the demand in Nigeria. He argued that such a ban would benefit the Nigerian petroleum industry and the nation as a whole.

During the discussion on the motion, Senator Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Ogun West), who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, expressed disappointment with the operation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) by some officials in the petroleum and gas sector. He called for a major reform and stated that “heads must roll.”

For his part, Senator Ali Ndume, the Senate Chief Whip, highlighted the challenges faced by Dangote Refinery. He claimed that the NMDPRA deliberately issues licenses to import adulterated foreign diesel, causing difficulties for Dangote Refinery. He emphasised the need for the ad-hoc committee to investigate the matter and why Dangote Refinery was forced to sell its diesel outside the country while toxic diesel is imported into Nigeria.

In response to the urgent national importance of the motion, the Senate resolved to establish an ad-hoc committee to probe the matter. The committee’s primary task is to examine the pre-shipment and pre-discharge standard test parameters adopted by the NMDPRA, with the aim of uncovering any loophole exploited to bring toxic cargoes into Nigeria.

The committee’s terms of reference include assessing the compliance of the NNPCL’s Direct Sale and Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangements with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act, and investigating the activities of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund, and examining the state and status of the 22 depots built by the NNPC to eliminate road distribution of petroleum products.

Additionally, the committee will engage with stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to identify gaps in regulations and strengthen surveillance and monitoring structures. It will also investigate the failure of institutions across the importation and distribution chain to conduct quality sampling and adhere to auditing and validation processes.

The committee has been given a three-week deadline to submit its report before the Senate proceeds on its annual recess at the end of July 2024.

The Senate said its proactive measures were aimed to safeguard Nigeria’s economy and ensure the importation of high-quality petroleum products that meet the nation’s prescribed standards.

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