The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Monday reopened eight petroleum products depots shut down by the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) in Ijegun-Egba, Satellite Town area of the state.
Mr Ayorinde Cardoso, Zonal Operations Controller, DPR, Lagos Zone, told newsmen in Lagos that the sealing of the tank farms could have led to huge disruption to the supply of petroleum products across the country.
He said the depots affected were Wosbab Energy Solutions, Emadeb Energy Services Ltd., Mao Petroleum Ltd., Menj Oil Ltd., Oceanpride Energy Services Ltd., A.A. Rano Nigeria Ltd., AIPEC Oil and Gas Ltd. and First Royal Oil Ltd.
According to him, Ijegun-Egba has 13 tank farm operators which receive between 35 per cent to 40 per cent of petroleum products coming to Lagos before being transported to other areas.
Cardoso said: “We were told that LASPPPA sealed the depots today (Monday) for not having their planning permits.
“We don’t believe that is the right approach because these people are providing service to the nation and if you disrupt that service there will be fuel scarcity everywhere.
“This is why we are taking proactive action to immediately reopen the tank farms and if LASPPPA have any issue with the operators they should come to us to see how it can be resolved.”
He maintained that the agency lacked the constitutional power to shut the depots because the industry was clearly under the Exclusive List.
Cardoso said: “Oil and gas business is a regulated environment and we know from the 1999 Constitution that oil and gas are matters within the exclusive legislative list.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Assembly is endowed with exclusive power to execute on any item on the exclusive list.
“And arising from that constitutional power, the National Assembly enacted the Petroleum Act of 1969.
“This act regulates all matters relating to petroleum such as importation, handling, storage, distribution of petroleum and petroleum products and other flammable oils.
“This act also provides the granting of licence to import, handle, store, sell, distribute any petroleum product in Nigeria.”
He said as a result of this, all persons that engage in the business are licensed by the Minister of Petroleum Resources through DPR.
According to him, the DPR collaborates with other relevant Federal and State Government agencies for requisite permits and approvals before the issuance of the licences.
“So, any issue arising from the licensee you need to call on the licensor who is the federal government; then we will look at the issue and see how we can resolve it,” he said.
Cardoso also emphasised that the revenue collected by DPR on the licences would be shared by the three tiers of government.
However, a LASPPPA source who spoke to newsmen on condition of anonymity, said the agency carried out a similar exercise in the area in 2020.
“We have also had several stakeholders discussion with the tank farm operators over the issue before taking this action, ” the source added.