A former top executive of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Paul Ajetunmobi, has called on the private investors jostling to take over the operation and management of the corporation’s refineries to build their own refineries and compete with the state-owned plants.
Speaking to media source at the weekend, the Lagos-based lawyer urged the investors to emulate Africa’s richest man and President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who opted to build 650,000 barrels per day refinery, instead of bidding to take over the ones built by the NNPC.
He said the investors should leave NNPC’s refineries in the hands of the staff of the corporation, further adding that NNPC has very competent hands that can effectively run the plants if given the required support by the federal government.
“My understanding of the whole thing is that people want to reap where they did not sow. They want ready-made food because the refineries are already there with all the structures and equipment in place. The private investors just want to come and take over just like they took over the EPCL – Eleme Petrochemical Company, where they are making millions of naira. The equipment were already there; so, they just took over and started reaping where they did not sow. Most of the investors want to reap where they did not sow. If they are genuinely interested in the oil and gas business; if they are genuinely interested in making money from refining, let them take the bull by the horns just like Dangote has done. Let them build their own refineries and operate them and leave NNPC’s refineries. Let them compete with the NNPC,” Ajetunmobi explained.
Ajetunmobi argued that the NNPC also has competent hands that were trained in some of the world’s best refineries, stressing that their challenges stemmed from inadequate support from the federal government.
According to him, the refineries are supposed to work without interruption, adding that the plant is not supposed to shut down.
“The government should empower NNPC workers and give them the wherewithal to operate the refineries. There should be no element of frustration. For instance, in the operational areas, there are certain things that are very critical and are needed urgently for them to work effectively. But when they make those requests, they are frustrated for one reason or the other. If they are not given what they need, they won’t put in their best,” Ajetunmobi added.
Speaking further on the Warri refinery, where he spent at least 10 years of his over three decades of meritorious service in the NNPC, Ajetunmobi described the refinery as the most strategic and well-run, adding that the plant is currently producing at over 65 per cent capacity.
“Why I said that is that it is from Warri refinery that you pump crude to Kaduna refinery. Without Warri Refinery, the Kaduna Refinery cannot exist. It is also from Warri Refinery that you pump refined products to the north. As of last week when I was at Warri Refinery, they were producing 3.644 million litres of petrol daily, 1.86 million litres of kerosene, and 3.102 million litres of diesel on a daily basis. They were also producing 55,000 litres of liquefied petroleum gas daily and 2.144 million litres of low pour fuel oil (LPFO) or black oil daily,” he explained.