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FG Meets Local Refiners Over Pricing, Faults Dangote

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The Federal Government, on Tuesday, declared that there was no importation of dirty fuel into Nigeria, countering the recent position of an official of the Dangote Petroleum Refinery.

It declared this after meeting with oil marketers and local refiners of crude oil in Abuja, where parties at the meeting discussed issues about refined products’ pricing, issues of competition and the importation of products that are produced in Nigeria.

Also at the meeting, oil marketers stated that though local refineries were producing some of the refined products, this would not stop marketers from patronising other sources, while also buying products from the indigenous producers.

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Speaking through the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, while reacting to claims of dirty fuel importation to Nigeria, the government stated that refined petroleum products with high-sulphur contents were last imported in February, stressing that this had since been addressed by the regulator.

The Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure, NMDPRA, Ogbugo Ukoha, disclosed this to journalists after the regulator concluded its meeting with the oil marketers and local crude oil refiners, which had officials from Dangote refinery and modular refineries.

“There is no dirty fuel that is being brought into Nigeria,” Ukoha declared when asked to react to the allegations levelled against the NMDPRA by a senior official of the Dangote refinery.

It was reported on Monday that the Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, accused the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority of granting licences indiscriminately to marketers to import dirty refined products into the country.

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He had stated that even though Dangote was producing and bringing diesel into the market, complying with the regulations of the Economic Community of West African States, “licences are being issued, in large quantities, to traders who are buying the extremely high sulphur diesel from Russia and dumping it in the Nigerian market.”

Edwin had explained, “Since the US, European Union and the United Kingdom imposed a price cap scheme from February 5, 2023, on Russian petroleum products, a large number of vessels are waiting near Togo with Russian ultra-high sulphur diesel and they are being purchased and dumped into the Nigerian market.

“Some of the European countries were so alarmed about the carcinogenic effect of the extra high sulphur diesel being dumped into the Nigerian market that countries like Belgium and the Netherlands imposed a ban on such fuel being exported from its country, into West Africa recently. Sadly, the country is giving import licences for such dirty diesel to be imported into Nigeria when we have more than adequate petroleum refining capacity locally.”

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But responding to this on Tuesday, the Federal Government’s agency insisted that it had adopted all the stipulated procedures required for the importation of refined petroleum products into Nigeria to halt the inflow of dirty fuels.

It further stated that refineries in Nigeria were also taking steps to see that the refined products that they produce conformed with the standards approved by ECOWAS for the region.

Ukoha said, “NMDPRA takes very seriously its statutory mandates to ensure that only quality petroleum products are supplied and consumed in Nigeria. A lot of people do not know the backgrounds that I’m to provide now.

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“The ECOWAS heads of states in 2020 endorsed a declaration adopting a fuel roadmap that requires that certain products should have as a minimum 50 parts per million litres of sulphur. Whilst it encouraged almost immediate enforcement against imports to comply with standards, the same treaty deferred enforcements for local refiners up to December 31, 2024.

“Now the PIA (Petroleum Industry Act), when it was passed in 2021, section 317 also captured and upheld these ECOWAS treaties. So as an authority, what have we done since we came into being? We started by engendering compliance. We saw a downward trend up to 2022 till December 2023.

“However, in December 2023 and January this year, we noticed a spike in the sulphur contents of products being imported and we again began strong enforcement from February 1. But I am happy to tell Nigerians that up until June, and till now as we speak, the average sulphur content in every AGO that is brought into Nigeria is below the 50ppm position in the law.”

With the local refiners, Ukoha stated that the declaration deferred it, adding, “So they continue to produce at a higher level, but we are not very anxious about that because even the new refineries that are coming in have within the design of their plants, the sulphurisation units that will see in the nearest future that sulphur goes down to as low as 10ppm.

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“And so I would like to assure Nigerians that this is a mandate that the authority takes very seriously and that we are here to guarantee the wellbeing and health of Nigerians, and there is no dirty fuel that we will encourage to come into Nigeria.”

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Asked to specifically react to claims that the NMDPRA had been dishing out fuel importation licences, leading to dirty fuel importation, despite the production of refined products from the Dangote refinery, Ukoha insisted that no dirty fuel would be allowed into Nigeria.

“I have answered that question; I said there is no dirty fuel being brought in, and I have given you the statistics for June and that what we have on the average from imports has continued to go down from 200ppm on the average.

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“And now we have it far below the 50ppm that is in the law. And then with the refineries, there is no need to enforce that until the end of this year. But they are taking steps to see that that is also guaranteed.”

Earlier during the meeting with oil marketers and local refiners, Ukoha explained that the meeting was a continuation of engagements which the parties had been having in the last weeks.

“The NMDPRA today engaged with select marketers who are involved in the importation of AGO (diesel), ATK (aviation fuel) and PMS (petrol), as well as refiners of these products. The singular objective is to continue to collaborate in a manner that guarantees energy security within the country,” he stated.

He said discussions at the meeting covered issues of pricing and competition, adding that the agency would continue to engage with operators “to see that we land at a place where it is ultimately beneficial to Nigerians.”

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He added, “On May 14, 2024, the authority hosted a meeting with marketers. We also had an engagement with refiners separately. What is different today is that both refiners and marketers are around the table, and the singular objective of today’s meeting was to continue to deliberate on how we will guarantee fuel supply stability within a fairly priced market.

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“There are several issues that came with that, such as pricing issues, competition, quality, etc. Some of these issues will be ongoing, but all it requires will be continuous engagements and consultations.”

Responding to claims that the government was trying to force marketers to buy products from a refinery in Nigeria, the NMDPRA official said, “What we have in Nigeria is a deregulated market that remains open.

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“The law that governs us, which is the PIA, makes several provisions and the authority continues to work towards operationalising all of them. So that’s the guarantee we give, that in the fullness of time, all aspects of the PIA will be operationalised.”

Asked to state the refined product that was considered by parties at the meeting, Ukoha said, “Currently, the refiners locally are producing substantial volumes of AGO (diesel), ATK (aviation fuel) and we have assurances that shortly PMS will also kick in. There are also other intermediate products being produced.”

The Group Managing Director, RainOil Ltd, Gabriel Ogbeche, said marketers were free to source products anywhere, but noted that local refiners were being patronised.

One of the things we’ve agreed is that there’s going to continually be a level playing field between the marketers and refiners. We will continue to collaborate for the best interest of the industry,” he said.

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Asked to state the challenges faced by marketers operating in the downstream sector which they would want the government to address, Ogbeche replied, “Up till today we have options and I can assure you that all the major marketers have been patronising the local refineries and we will continue. We also have the option of getting products from other sources and to the best of our knowledge that has not changed, even though conversations around that are ongoing.”

On his part, the Group Chief Commercial Officer, of Dangote Group, Rabiu Umar, said, “It was a very production meeting. We believe that this meeting is just one of many to come that will move this industry in the right direction.”

There have been concerns lately that oil marketers were boycotting the Dangote refinery by importing diesel into Nigeria, despite its massive production locally by the $20bn refinery located in Lagos.
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CAC To Cancel Certificates Of BDCs With Revoked Licences

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The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has said it would cancel the certificates of incorporation of Bureaux De Change(BCDs) whose licences have been revoked by the Central Bank of Nigeria( CBN).

The Nation reported in February the CBN revoked the licences of 4,173 Bureau De Change operators over their failure to meet regulatory guidelines.

In a statement by its acting Director, Corporate Communications, Sidi Hakama, CBN explained that the regulatory provisions flouted include nonpayment of all necessary fees within the stipulated period.

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CBN said: “The affected institutions failed to observe at least one of the following regulatory provisions: Payment of all necessary fees, including licence renewal, within the stipulated period in line with the guidelines.

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“Rendition of returns in line with the guidelines; compliance with guidelines, directives, and circulars of the CBN, particularly Anti-Money Laundering, Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Counter-Proliferation Financing regulations.”

However, in line with the above directive by the CBN, the CAC in a notice on its website on Wednesday, said the certificates would be cancelled within three months if the affected companies do not change the names and objects of such companies.

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The general public is hereby informed that following the revocation of the operational licenses of 4,173 Bureau De Change companies by the Central Bank of Nigeria vide a Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette (Vol. 111) No. 37 of February 27, 2024 for noncompliance with Regulatory Standards, the Corporate Affairs Commission in the exercise of its powers under section 8(1)(e) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 advises these companies to within three months from the date of this publication, change the names and objects of such companies.

“Failure to change the names and objects within the stipulated time frame shall result in cancellation of certificate of incorporation and dissolution. It is to be noted that it is unlawful for a company whose certificate has been deemed dissolved to carry on business,” the CAC notice reads.

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FG Suspends Taxes On Maize, Wheat, Rice, Others

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The Federal Government has suspended duties, tariffs and taxes on some essential food items imported through land and sea borders.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, announced this at the National Press Centre, Abuja.

Kyari also said the Federal Government has also inaugurated the Renewed Hope National Livestock Transformation Implementation Committee to develop and implement policies that prioritize livestock development and align with the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

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He stated that the listed food items, which include maize, wheat, husked brown rice and cowpeas, will enjoy a 150-day Duty-Free Import Window.

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He added that the move is part of the Presidential Accelerated Stabilization and Advancement Plan, which is aimed at achieving food security and economic stability in the country.

According to him: “The Federal Government has announced a 150-day Duty-Free Import Window for Food Commodities, suspension of duties, tariffs and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities (through land and sea borders). These commodities include maize, husked brown rice, wheat and cowpeas.

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“Under this arrangement, imported food commodities will be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

“I am glad to reiterate that the Government’s position exemplifies standards that would not compromise the safety of the various food items for consumption.

“In addition to the importation by the private sector, the Federal Government will import 250,000MT of wheat and 250,000MT of maize. The imported food commodities in their semi-processed state will target supplies to the small-scale processors and millers across the country.”

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CAC Extends PoS Registration Deadline 

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The Corporate Affairs Commission has announced the approval to extend the mandatory Point of Sales agents, super agents and sole agents registration to September 5th, 2024.

The commission made the announcement in a statement signed by its management and posted on its Facebook page on Saturday, giving a 60-day extension.

It said the extension is to give sufficient time to operators particularly those in remote areas who might have encountered network challenges to so register and continue with their businesses.

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The statement read, “The Corporate Affairs Commission wishes to notify Fintech Operators also known as Point of Sales Operators that the initial deadline of 7th July 2024 given for the registration of sole Agents, Super Agents and Agents has been extended for sixty days beginning from 7th July 2024 to the 5th September 2024.

“This is to give sufficient time to Operators particularly those in remote areas who might have encountered network challenges to so register and continue with their businesses.”

It added operators who continue to disobey after the new deadline will risk losing their businesses and facing prosecution for assisting criminal activities.

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“Operators who fail or refuse to register at the end of the extended deadline run the risk of losing such businesses and prosecution for aiding and abetting criminal activities,” it said.

 

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