Despite assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited will start refining crude oil by the end of last month, findings have shown that the plant has yet to start delivering on the target.
This is coming as civil society organisations have called on the Federal Government to cut down the volume of crude being supplied to the four refineries based on the fact that the facilities are producing far below the 445,000 barrels, which they get on a daily basis.
It was, however, learnt that the Port Harcourt refinery had started receiving crude oil through boats for commercial processing, but it had yet to commence the production of refined petroleum products.
The rehabilitation of the plant had reached an advanced stage, but sources explained that the refinery was far from being ready to refine crude.
Mid last month, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Joseph Dawha, disclosed that the PHRC would start refining crude oil and contribute to petroleum products’ availability by the end of June.
Dawha had said, “Presently, the refineries are undergoing rehabilitation and we are undertaking what we call a new strategy to carry out the turnaround maintenance on them. Basically, what this means is that we are carrying out phased implementation of the rehabilitation of the refineries. We are taking the refineries unit by unit and carrying out turnaround maintenance on them.
“Most of the refineries have advanced to a certain stage where they will be able to operate very soon. For example, the Port Harcourt refinery, which has reached an advanced stage, will start receiving crude by end of this month and then, of course, will start contributing to the available products in the country.”
The NNPC has four refineries, two in Port Harcourt, and one each in Kaduna and Warri. They have combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day. A comprehensive network of pipelines and depots strategically located throughout Nigeria links these refineries.
But sources confirmed to our correspondent that the pipelines were hardly being used to transport crude and refined products to and out of the refineries due to the activities of vandals who regularly rupture the pipelines.
The Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, stated that crude oil was being transported to the Port Harcourt refinery through boats, and noted that the natural resource would get to the facility by the end of this week.
“Crude is being supplied to the Port Harcourt refinery, and you know we are using marine to do the supply. Before the end of the week, they will get crude in Port Harcourt,” he said.
When asked if the refining process would start once the crude oil hit the refinery this weekend, Alegbe replied, “It is a long process. However, once they start production and get the crude, I will let you know.”
Meanwhile, the representative of civil societies on the Board of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives, Mrs. Faith Nwadishi, has argued that the four refineries combined are refining far below the 445,000 barrels of crude being supplied to them daily.
Nwadishi, who is the National Coordinator, Publish-What-You-Pay as well as the CSOs representative on the global EITI board said, “We all know that when the four refineries perform at optimum capacity, they can only produce at 50 per cent. They cannot deliver 100 per cent of the 445,000 barrels per day that they get.
“Now, even if the NNPC decides today that the four refineries will work at 100 per cent capacity, we know that their 100 per cent capacity can refine only 50 per cent of the 445,000 barrels that they get on daily basis.”
She added, “So, what we are saying is that the four refineries put together in Nigeria operate around 20 per cent average and by the time the Port Harcourt refinery is operating at 80 per cent capacity, it can only raise that average to about 25 or 30 per cent. So, the problem still persists.
“Therefore, what we are asking for is that there should be transparency in the turnaround maintenance of our refineries. Why should Nigeria to go to smaller countries like Chad to refine our crude? If we know that the NNPC does not have the capacity to refine 445,000 barrels per day, let us give them exactly what they can refine.”
The Managing Director, Pipelines Product Marketing Company, Mr. Haruna Momoh, had stated last month that the NNPC was importing 50 per cent of the refined petroleum products being consumed in the country.
He explained that when the ongoing rehabilitation and turnaround maintenance of the Port Harcourt refinery was completed, the plant would run at 80 per cent of its installed capacity and produce five million litres of petrol on a daily basis.