The pump price of petrol could drop further by between N5 and N8 per litre, operators in the downstream oil sector have said. According to oil marketers, the crash in crude oil price warranted the recent slashes in petrol price by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency.

They noted that the current PMS cost of N123.5/litre to N125/litre could drop further when other operators join the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to start importing products.

Senior officials of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria and the Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, however, noted that this would happen when every downstream petrol importer begins to access the dollar at the same rate with NNPC.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees, IPMAN, who doubles as Group Executive Director, Nipco Plc, Aminu Abdulkadir, said that the price band for petrol would go down as far as crude oil prices stayed low.

Abulkadir, who said this in a television interview monitored by our correspondent in Abuja, noted that PPPRA would always provide a band because the price of the commodity was not definite.

He said, “Dealing with pump products is something that is not definite and that is why the PPPRA provides a band. A band is a range.

“Today, as the price is at N123.5/litre, I believe that by the time the market is totally free for marketers to import on their own, the band could still come lower than what it is by at least N5 to N8.”

On whether PPPRA would still determine the price of petrol for all dealers, he stated that the agency would mainly be saddled with the duty of providing a price band.

The IPMAN boss observed that the fluctuation in global crude oil prices would cause changes in petrol price in Nigeria.

Abdulkadir said, “They (PPPRA) will always partake in determining a band and not to give a fixed price. As the price of crude oil increases, the price of petroleum products will also increase but not as sharply as in an under-deregulated market.

“Different filling stations will sell at different prices and that is the essence of freeing the market. Definitely you will not get a fixed price but as the deregulation matures, the difference in the prices of retail outlets will not be up to N1.

He added, “By the time the industry understands the deregulation very well, you will find out that the difference between one retail outlet and the other will not be more than 50k to 80k because efficiency will come to play.”

On his part, the National President, PETROAN, Billy Gillis-Harry, told our correspondent that marketers would also want to see policy stability as the downstream sector sets for full deregulation.

Gillis-Harry, who admitted that petrol price would drop in a fully deregulated market, canvassed the domestic refining of petroleum products as against the massive dependence on imports.

He further noted that it was important for marketers to have access to loans in order to ensure the availability of products in all geographical zones of Nigeria to drive economic development.