The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu says the Port Harcourt Refining Company now produces five (5) million liters of Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as petrol and the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company also produces two (2) million liters of petrol per day.
The Minister made this statement while re-commissioning the Bonny-Port Harcourt Refinery crude pipeline that has just been rehabilitated after being out of use for so many years due to incessant pipeline vandalism.
Dr. Kachikwu stated that Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company is also scheduled to start production any moment from now adding that the coming on stream of the three refineries will go a long way to ensure sufficient supply and distribution of petrol across the country.
He stated that the NNPC under his watch has been able to recover the two critical crude supply pipelines which were Escravos to Warri and Bonny to Port Harcourt crude supply pipelines stressing that they are critical to the downstream sector of the industry.
“Port Harcourt is back in production, Warri is back in production, Kaduna as at today is receiving crude and will soon be back in production. Lagos is easing off now from fuel scarcity and Abuja is doing the same thing and once Kaduna begins production, the North will see a lot of improvement.
He added that for the first time in many years, the three refineries are going to be working and it will help in a great deal with the issue of fuel supply and distribution across the country.
He noted that the commercial governance model system was being introduced into the refineries so as to keep them in business and to enable them compete favourably in the hydrocarbon value chain.
“What we have done is to find a very creative way of bringing investors who will come in, work with our team here who have the skills, reactivate and upgrade facilities in these refineries’’, the minister disclosed.
According to him, the investors will also help us to provide technical support and they will be paid through the flow out of refined products over a period of time which is why we have also changed the refining model such that refineries pay for their crude so it goes into federation account.
He explained that whatever they produce is theirs and they sell to one huge customer which will be both Nigerian Petroleum Marketing Company (NPMC) and the marketers themselves and that enables them to keep the refineries going after the upgrade so that the problem we have in the past of not repairing the refineries will not reoccur.
Dr. Kachikwu noted that the misgivings going round that we are trying to hand over refineries is not true saying that the President was very clear from day one, that at this point in time he was not ready for that, so that is not the model we are pursuing now.
According to him, we are not inviting foreign partners to take over the refineries, we do not have the funds, even now that they are working, they are probably working at about 60 per cent or below capacity so you need to upgrade these refineries and get them to a level where they will operate at 90 per cent capacity or more.
“It requires money and total investment for that is in excess of about $700 million and we don’t have it’’, the minister stated.
He said that even at full capacity of the refineries, the country would still import petroleum products to augment the supply of petroleum products.
The minister said that going forward by 2019 when the co-location refineries become operational, the country will stop importation of petroleum products and become a net exporter.
The Minister reassured that he remains focused at finding solutions to the many problems confronting the petroleum sector adding that gradually the problems were being solved through innovative ways.
He called on Nigerians to own and protect the petroleum crude and products pipelines across their communities stressing that the Federal Government cannot do it alone without their cooperation.
He commended the security agencies for their efforts at safeguarding the pipelines and urged Nigerians to also protect the pipelines since they are national assets.
Speaking earlier, the Managing Director of the PHRC, Dr. Bafred Enjugu assured the Minister that the refineries will deliver on their new mandate of being commercial noting that the hard days of petroleum product scarcity are over for good.
On his part, the Team lead of the Escarvos-Warri and Bonny-Port Harcourt pipeline Task Force, Engr. Rabiu Suleiman stated that the team came up with robust strategies for security and community engagement which according to him if sustained will keep all the refineries working without coming down.
It would be recalled that the 46 km Escravos-Warri crude pipeline and the Bonny-Port Harcourt refinery crude pipelines were rendered inactive for many years by pipeline vandals and the refineries resorted to marine crude transport to the refineries.