For the umpteenth time, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has announced that a local refinery has begun operations.
According to the NNPC boss, the Port Harcourt Refining Company and the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company are now producing a combined volume of seven million litres of petrol daily.
Speaking through a statement on Sunday while reopening the Bonny-Port Harcourt crude pipeline, Kachikwu explained that the government was doing all it could to clear fuel queues, as he noted that the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company was also scheduled to start production any moment from now.
Kachikwu said the coming on stream of the three refineries would go a long way in ensuring sufficient supply and distribution of petrol across the country.
The minister said the NNPC had been able to recover the Escravos to Warri and Bonny to Port Harcourt crude supply pipelines, stressing that they were critical to the downstream oil sector.
“Port Harcourt is back in production; Warri is back in production; Kaduna, as of today, is receiving crude and will soon be back in production. Lagos is easing off now from fuel scarcity and Abuja is doing the same thing; and once Kaduna begins production, the North will see a lot of improvement,” Kachikwu stated.
The minister said a commercial governance model system had been introduced into the management of the refineries to enable them to compete favourably in the hydrocarbon value chain.
He explained, “What we have done is to find a very creative way of bringing investors who will come in, work with our team here who have the skills, reactivate and upgrade facilities in these refineries.
“The investors will also help us to provide technical support and they will be paid through the flow out of refined products over a period of time, which is why we have also changed the refining model such that the refineries pay for their crude, so it goes into the Federation Account.”
Kachikwu added that the refineries would sell their products to both the Nigerian Petroleum Marketing Company and the marketers.
He insisted that the government would not sell the refineries contrary to claims in some quarters.
“We are not inviting foreign partners to take over the refineries; we do not have the funds. Even now that they are working, they are probably working at about 60 per cent or below capacity; so, you need to upgrade these refineries and get them to a level where they will operate at 90 per cent capacity or more,” the minister said.