…Vows To End Fuel Importation Soon
The Federal Government has disclosed that the Port Harcourt refinery would be back on stream in December this year.
NNPCL’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Garba Deen Muhammad in a statement quoted the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, to have given the new date during an inspection tour of the rehabilitation work progress at the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) Ltd. plant, in Port Harcourt on Friday.
TheFact Daily reports that this is not the first time the federal government has promised to fix the nation’s refineries. Successive administrations had promised to fix the refineries but failed.
For instance, former President Muhammadu Buhari promised to fix the refineries when he was elected in 2015.
In 2018, under his leadership, the former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu promised to fix the refineries and declared that the refineries would be fully functional before the end of 2019.
In April 2019, Dr. Kachikwu disclosed that it would be difficult for Nigeria to fund the $2.5 billion needed to repair the refineries.
In an interview in 2019, he admitted that they failed to give Nigerians refineries as promised.
Two years ago, Timipre Sylva, who replaced Dr. Kachikwu as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources under former President Muhammadu Buhari, stated in an interview that the Port Harcourt Refinery would become operational by the end of the year.
As of August 2023, the refineries remain in a state of disrepair and have not been fixed for Eight years.
It was gathered that the federal government had spent about $6.065 billion on their rehabilitation between 1993 and 2016.
In March 2021, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved $1.5 billion to the defunct Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the rehabilitation of the refineries.
The Port Harcourt refinery in particular was expected to have started operations in Q1 2023, but that has not been achieved.
Meanwhile, the new Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, under the leadership of President Tinubu, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has said, considering the level of progress recorded in the PHRC rehabilitation project, the plant would come back on stream by December this year.
“Our objective in coming here today is to ensure that in the next few years, Nigeria stops fuel importation. From what we have seen here today, Port Harcourt Refinery will come on board by the end of the year, Warri will come on stream by the end of the first quarter of next year, and Kaduna will also come on board towards the end of next year. If you add that to the Dangote Refinery, we will be able to stop fuel importation, and Nigerians will enjoy the full benefits of deregulation,” the Minister assured.
The Minister who expressed satisfaction with the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Port Harcourt refinery, noted that once all the refineries are back on stream, Nigerians would enjoy a better supply of petroleum products, and foreign exchange would be domesticated, leading to an improved economy.
Earlier in his remarks, the Group CEO, NNPC Ltd., Mr. Mele Kyari, said that bringing back the refineries to their optimal levels is a national aspiration, and the Company remains focused on delivering that.
“We are aware of our nation’s challenges in terms of fuel supply. But we are not here to give excuses. We are focused on delivering this rehabilitation project, our two other refineries, and all other investments towards revamping the nation’s refining capacity. We are hopeful that in 2024, this country will be a net exporter of petroleum products,” Kyari stated.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Petroleum (Gas), Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo said: “We are here to go into the field. Yesterday was the era of subsidies. Today, we don’t have subsidies. Today, people are in a desperate situation to heave a sigh of relief; and see how to live. You all know that petrol is very vital to our economy. All hands must be on deck to ensure that the refineries are working,” he stated.
During the visit, the two Ministers also participated in the Refineries’ Rehabilitation Steering Committee meeting and held a meeting with the refinery’s Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) Contractors.
The Minister was in the company of his counterpart, the Minister of State for Petroleum (Gas), Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ambassador Gabriel T. Aduda, and the Group CEO, NNPC Ltd., Mr. Mele Kyari.