By Desmond Ejibas
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Friday shut down businesses in 33 filling stations in Port Harcourt over alleged sharp practices.
Mr Bassey Nkanga, Operations Controller, DPR, Port Harcourt Zone, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during a routine inspection of filling stations in the Rivers capital.
The department, he said, inspected 150 stations, and caught 33 under-dispensing and selling adulterated petroleum products to unsuspecting users.
NAN reports that the affected stations include Conoil Petroleum, Eterna, Forte Oil, Mobil and Oando, among others.
“The filling stations were sealed for cheating the public, in violation of stipulated rules guiding operations in the upstream and downstream petroleum industry.
“So far, of the 150 stations we visited in our ongoing surveillance in Port Harcourt, 33 stations have been sealed for selling adulterated products to the public.
“Other offences committed include operating without valid licence as well as selling products between N148 to N152 per litre, above the government’s approved pump price.
“Consequently, the 33 filling stations are presently under sanction of various fines.” he said.
Nkanga further said that the department shut filling stations which erroneously over-dispense their products, thereby incurring losses.
“For such filling stations, we found out that of every 10 litres dispensed, two litres are mistakenly given to customers free.
“So, we simply stopped them from dispensing products, pending when such pumps are re-calibrated.
“We took this measure because we want the marketers to remain in business,” he said.
According to the DPR boss, severe sanctions await marketers caught still dispensing products or tampering with evidence after their stations had been sealed by government.
The department, he said, was currently working with security agencies to end activities of illegal petroleum products refiners and peddlers of adulterated products in the old Port Harcourt town.
According to him, the synergy has led to many filling stations being sealed and operators put out of the illicit businesses.
“We will not relent in our efforts to ensure full compliance to rules as stipulated in the guidelines of the petroleum industry.
“Severe sanctions await any marketer caught flouting the rules by adjusting their meters; hoarding petroleum products and operating without valid licence,” he added.
Nkanga urged the public to report any erring filling station, to the department, promising that the department would always take prompt action.