Nigeria to seek damages from suppliers of gasoline with too much methanol

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Cars queue to buy petrol at the NNPC Mega petrol station in Abuja, Nigeria March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

ABUJA, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) will seek damages from suppliers of gasoline with levels of methanol that were too high, its managing director has told a House of Representatives committee meeting.

Five vessels with fuel that didn’t meet requirements on methanol levels had been rejected by NNPC, Mele Kyari, chief executive of the state oil firm, also said, helping create shortages with motorists queuing for hours in the country’s two biggest cities.

The latest fuel shortages have angered Nigerians, who have been spending hours queuing to fill their tanks while some public transport owners have taken advantage to hike fares.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest producer of crude oil but depends entirely on imports to meet its domestic gasoline needs, largely because its refineries have produced little or no fuel over the past decade due to poor maintenance.

The normal methanol level is 2-3% but the off-spec fuel had levels of 20%, which can damage engines. There have been reports to this effect and the Nigerian government has promised to assess the vehicles.

“We have put all our suppliers … on notice that there would be … damages that will come from this,” Kyari told the committee, according to transcripts of the meeting held on Wednesday.

“I do not know how many people are in the (supply) chain because this PMS (premium motor spirit) supply business, in one cargo you can have three sellers, you can have two, and you may have only one.”

Two tankers carrying gasoline loaded in Antwerp, Belgium, turned back to their loading port after initially being destined for Lagos, Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking and sources said last week.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe in Lagos and Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Editing by David Holmes


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