Members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) chapter have warned against outright sale of the energy sector to private investors.
The members equally called for the passage of the aspect of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to douse the lingering agitations and threats in the Niger Delta.
The General Executive Committee (GEC), Chairman of PENGASSAN, NNPC Group, Sale Abdullahi, spoke for the group during a one-day visit/ tour of Port Harcourt Refinary ahead of PENGASSAN’s national congress and election of new executives at Abuja, the Federal Capital territory today.
Abdullahi said: “We are not against privatization, concessioning of the refineries, but no responsible nation will like to too with the issue of energy at the moment especially considering the present condition of the country’s economy. We as Labour union are against 100% concessioning, we want to maintain a level of security. Thus is because energy is security and just like the country cannot give out security 100% to the private sector to manage we should equally not so that with the case of energy, that us the reason we are saying that when the government is bringing in investors, let them bring in those that will add values to the refineries.
“We talked about the maintenance that we have not been able to do for so many years, it is certainly because of finance, so we welcome those that will come with finance to help us in the area of maintenance, we partner together, make profits together but with the guarantee that the energy security of the nation is with the government the is the kind of concessioning we support.
“After all the PIB that us before the national assembly has a portion that reliefs 20% government equity of the oil and gas sector being in the hands of private investors, meaning that when the bill is passed, 20% will go off but what we are saying is that, it does not make any sense at the moment to sale the entire energy facility of the country outright to public investors; if that must be done then, it should be done bit by bit, to give room for monitoring and evaluation on its progress on the economy. This is necessary because of past experience.
“Nigeria Oil and Gas sector has numerous challenges, just as the country also does have. The way forward is to create a road map to give directions to the exact expectations of the country in the sector, and to also plan to diversify the economy away from oil and gas business with the view of developing and giving prominence to the newly identified economic resources, and little or no relevance to the energy sector.
“To achieving this, a road map will need to begin with building capacity in the identified new economy.
“We thought that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), is going to give succour to the areas if challenge to the sector…, other countries that have taken time to give legislation that could help them not just in achieving or tapping the potentials in oil and gas but equally allowing them to diversify into other areas, that is what we have not done in the moment; therefore that roadmap is very important and we need to have them urgently.
“Contrary to the media hype that Port Harcourt Refinery is not working and not producing, the facility is working.
“It was the media reports that informed the decision to invite you (the media), on a tour of the facility to see things for yourself with the view to confirming whether or not the equipments here (the Refinery), are working or not.
“Having gone round the facility and also gone to the control room, you (news men), have seen fir yourself that all the compartment of the facility are working, the only challenge is capacity utilization which at the moment is at 60 per cent. We will like to move it to at least 90% and then the supposed 100% utilization.
“Meanwhile we do not have what we are supposed to have because of some challenges, critical among the challenge is crude oil supply without which, there will be no Refinery.
“Another critical challenge of the facility as we have seen is evacuation. Even when we refine, we expect that they should be loading for the products to create room for new products that are coming. But we are having challenges in this area also.”