The Federal Government has said it has no plan to sell any of the refineries, but may encourage joint venture investments in the facilities.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, made this statement last week shortly after inspecting the Port Harcourt refinery in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Nigeria currently has four refineries in Rivers, Delta and Kaduna states with two of them in Eleme.
Kachikwu explained that rather than sell the nation’s refineries, government would embrace the option of increasing their capacity by making them 100 per cent efficient.
“There will never be a plan to sell the refineries. There might be a plan to have joint venture investors, but that is going to depend on how the refineries are going to work on their own. Obviously, we are going to be looking at all options to make the refineries 100 per cent efficient,” he said.
He expressed the government’s readiness to make the pipelines and other oil installations to work at full capacity, maintaining that the excuse that pipelines were sabotaged was no longer tenable.
Explaining that the Federal Government was going to be tough on pipeline vandals, Kachikwu pointed out that measures had been put in place to ensure that the pipelines were protected.
“In terms of crude supply, you know we have cancelled the crude supply by vessel contracts. We are going to use some stop-gap measures to use our own internal supplies from now till when the new contracts are looked at. The intent is to have the pipelines work.
“I am very focused on the pipelines; it is no longer a good enough excuse that people are sabotaging the pipelines. We have got to deal with those saboteurs and we are going to go extremely tough on this. If we can make the pipelines work, we will get crude supply and get higher volume easier.
“We are on the verge of bringing in a lot of engineers to help with pipeline protection. We should be looking at aerial surveillance by helicopters, surveillance by the military and obviously naval surveillance as long as we can. But we have to also engage the communities,” the NNPC GMD said.
Kachikwu, however promised not to allow fuel scarcity in the country during his tenure as the GMD of the NNPC, adding that though he would try and refine crude oil locally, the corporation would also import when necessary.
He said, “I will not allow scarcity to happen in the country. I will import as much as I need. I will try and refine as much as I can and I will keep looking at those comparative dynamics and see where we will land. I certainly would hope that someday in my tenure, we would stop importing.
“But it is not going to happen on a 100 per cent basis unless you build new refineries. The total capacity anywhere, even if we are doing a 100 per cent is about 20 million litres. Consumption today is 40 million litres.”
On why the Warri refinery was shut down, Kachikwu attributed the development to the failure to invest in the turnaround maintenance of refineries in the country for a long time.
Meanwhile, the restructuring of the NNPC and its subsidiaries into a lean and efficient venture continued on Wednesday as the oil firm announced that it would commence the unbundling of its Pipelines and Products Marketing Company Limited into three different companies.
Kachikwu said this during an official tour of the Okrika Jetty and the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited.
He said the PPMC would be split into a pipelines company that would focus primarily on the maintenance of the over 5000km pipelines of the corporation, a storage company that would maintain all the over 23 depots, and a products marketing company that would market and sell petroleum products.
The GMD, in a statement issued by the firm’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, explained that the move would ensure that right set of skills were adequately positioned and the number of leakages in terms of pipelines break and product loss were reduced to the barest minimum.
Kachikwu noted that the ongoing phased rehabilitation of all the state-owned refineries would be given an accelerated vigour with the aim of reducing petroleum products importation into the country, adding that at full capacity, all the refineries could supply only 20 million litres of premium motor spirit otherwise known as petrol on a daily basis.
The corporation’s boss stated that efforts were in top gear to fix all the crude and petroleum products pipelines across the country as he noted that the Nigerian Air Force would be engaged to provide aerial surveillance of the pipelines.