The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has opposed the sale of the nation’s refineries as suggested by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.
The National Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Emmanuel Ojugbana, said in a statement on Sunday that the suggestion was a fraudulent way of stripping the country of its national assets.
He noted that the proof that the refineries were functional and profitable was revealed in the net profit of N11.2bn made by the Port Harcourt Refining Company in December 2014, which exceeded the November 2014 results by N8.2bn or 250 per cent.
He added that the improved financial performance was attributed to the phased rehabilitation programme embarked upon by the workers.
The union PRO lauded the efforts of the government in ensuring that the four state-owned refineries were back on stream.
Ojugbana said, “Nigerians need to ask the IPMAN leadership why they want the refineries, which can be said to be in good form now, sold as scrap. Even when the government has shown that the refineries can work and take care of 75 per cent of the nation’s local demand for refined products.
“The challenge confronting the functionality of the refineries is not the ownership. We have examples of countries even in West Africa such as Ghana and Chad Republic, just to mention a few, where refineries are owned by the government. The refineries in those countries are not only functioning, but Nigeria even imported from them in the past.”
Ojugbana pointed out that government’s ownership was not the major problem affecting the functionality of the refineries, but the irregular supply of crude oil to the plants.
He stressed, “IPMAN should know that aside from the challenge of turnaround maintenance of the refineries, adequate and regular supply of crude, which is the main feedstock, is another major impediment to the efficient and effective operation of the refineries.
“When the plant is idle for too long, this breeds residual faults and problems whenever there is an attempt to start up, since the design of a refinery is better when it is continuously operated. We are again demanding adequate and regular supply of crude oil to the four refineries to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians and reduce or eliminate subsidy payment, considering the plunge in global oil prices.”
He asked the government to grant the management of the refineries autonomy for effective accountability, while sustaining the rehabilitation process already initiated.