By CrossRiverWatch Admin
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) have sealed off over 20 filling stations in the Central and Northern parts of Cross River State.
The agency says it was acting on special information by some of its agents that some petroleum product marketers in the Central and Northern parts of the State were dispensing fuel above the regulated pump price.
DPR has the statutory responsibility of ensuring compliance to petroleum laws, regulations and guidelines in the Oil and Gas Industry.
The operation which was coordinated by the Calabar field office and lasted for three days took the agency to about 10 LGAs within the Central and Northern parts of the State.
The agency said it also noticed a new dimension in the petroleum product marketing, where marketers sell at official rate of N145 per litre but actually adjust their meters to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.
DPR Operations Controller incharge of Cross River State, Engr. Philip Awulo who spoke with our reporter maintained that the operation was necessary to ensure compliance by all petroleum marketers, especially those in the northern and central parts of the State.
According Engr. Awulo “Although some of them were selling at the regulated pimp price of N145 per litre, some were selling at about N150 and above, while some actually adjusted their meters such that when you buy and pay for 10liter fuel, what you actually get will be say about 9liters or less even when the pump price is actually showing N145 per litre
“We have also noticed widespread proliferation of illegal stations including those stations that have not regularise their operational license.”
On how the agency intends to sustain such operation especially in those areas that are far away from the State capital. Mr. Awulo said “We will need to be doing this kind of operation time to time in order to keep the people in check. Those whose stations have been sealed will have to pay stipulated fine and thereafter adjust their pump before their stations will be unsealed.”
He warned those whose station has been sealed to refrain from attempting to unseal them as such offence comes with grievous consequences.
On the proliferation of illegal filling stations in the State, Engr. Frank Abuo who led the team for the operation said the agency have a database of such filling stations.
“We have been able to geo reference them. We have a data base of them and from available record, we have over 200 illegal filling stations in the state and we issuing them notice to come to the office and regularise their operational permit or face being shut down.”
Engr. Frank said the agency was also carrying out an audit of all gas facility across the State to ensure that they comply to the laws and operational guidelines.
He expressed worry at a situation where gas facilities are located close to churches and markets.
“In the case where an accident occur you know that the casualty will be so high. Gas is not like petrol, it is more dangerous. In a twinkle of an eye it can cause so much damage, so we need to take extra caution so we do not endanger the lives of people.”
At some of the gas stations visited, the agency frowned at the poor caution signs around their gas facilities.
The agency said the gas audit was necessitated by the Federal Government’s directive on the need to pay attention to gas. He said this has caused the sector to experience huge influx of new players into the business, which is why the agency is working hard to ensure compliance to set out standard.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government early this year disclosed that it was working on a legislation, through the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to compel petroleum products marketers to set up gas filling plants in all the petrol stations across the country to promote cleaner energy as well as create employment opportunities for unemployed Nigerians.
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