Worried by the frequent demand for functional refineries in the country as a way out of petroleum products’ importation, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has disclosed that Nigeria will this week sign a formal contract for the planned turn-around maintenance (TAM) of all its traditional refineries with their original builders.
She said in a statement in Abuja Tuesday that the contract or agreement for the TAM would be signed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the original builders of the refineries.
She also said that some other investors from China had also indicated interest to build more refineries in the country.
“In order to ensure that we get our refineries to 90 per cent utilisation and to show Nigerians that we are serious this time around, we actually went back and brought the original contractors that built our refineries in Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna.
“Already, they have given us an aggressive timetable and they have assured us that within 24 months all three major refineries will be producing up to 90 per cent capacity utilisation,” she said.
In the statement that was signed by the Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, the minister assured Nigerians that within the next 24 months Nigeria would become a net exporter of petroleum products, adding that with the removal of fuel subsidy, several investors are ready to invest in the nation’s economy.
The four refineries have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day (bpd) and a comprehensive network of pipelines and depots are strategically located throughout Nigeria to link them.
“With this policy in place, millions of jobs will be created and the economy will become very viable for investment,” Alison-Madueke stated.
The minister also explained how the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government would help curb the widely reported incidence of corruption in the downstream sector of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
She noted that apart from providing the flexibility for re-investment of key funds into the provision of critical social infrastructure, the removal of subsidy on premium motor spirit (PMS) would help erase corruption which has trailed subsidy claims and counter-claims.
According to her, “It is not possible to have petrol at N65 per litre at the pump in Nigeria; in Chad as much as N200, in Ghana at N175 and in Niger at N190 and yet you expect people not to move the product across our borders?
“It is simple economics especially when you consider the nature of our international borders. So in the last 16 months, while we have fought so hard to keep the country wet with petroleum products despite some level of disparity in prices, some people have taken the products to other neighbouring countries where they can sell it for as much as three times the price in Nigeria.”
Alison-Madueke added: “It is a matter of simple economics that when you have this massive differential in price between you and neighbouring countries, nothing can stop the smuggling of the product.”
She noted that it is impracticable for anybody to expect government to stop the incidence of corruption in the downstream sector which is largely due to the subsidy regime and yet expect government to do so without removing the incidence of subsidy which is the biggest incentive for corruption in the sub-sector in the first instance.
“In the bid to sustain the gains of the fuel subsidy removal, a massive transformation and re-organisation is taking place in the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to ensure uniformity of prices of petroleum products in the downstream sector.
“We have put in place a much more robust and aggressive transformation in the regulatory agencies of the downstream sector. PPPRA and DPR are being reformed as we speak. Sweeping changes are beginning to go across them as we speak. We have done this so as to tighten the regulatory indices in the oil and gas sector,” she said.
While suing for understanding from Nigerians, she called on organised labour to reconsider its decision on the strike and return to work.
Alison-Madueke added: “In fact, the policy is a transfer of negativity to positivity in such a way that funds will be put to better use. The subsidy transfer as I choose to call it will lead to a situation where international Trunk A roads will be built for Nigerians.
“Major roads such as Abuja-Abaji, Benin-Ore-Shagamu roads have already been earmarked, major railway lines that will help in the freighting of petroleum products and irrigation projects that will help to supply water to Nigerians have already been pencilled down