The federal government has said it will cancel modular refinery licences that are idle.
Heineken Lokpobiri, minister of state for petroleum resources (oil), said that Nigeria has a lot of modular refineries that have been given licences but the challenge has been the feedstock. “Even if you have the modular refinery do you have the crude to be able to refine?”
He said these in Abuja while fielding questions from journalists at the end of the three-day ministerial retreat at the State House Conference Centre.
Lokpobiri said: “That’s why I said unless we produce sufficient quantities, even if the refineries are rehabilitated, there will be no feedstock. So my challenge is to ramp up production so that we can see how we can feed not only the big refineries but also the modular refineries; these are the real employers of labour and they will do the magic.
“What I have done is also liberalise the process to acquire licences. Before I came, they said sometimes it takes so long to acquire licences; so I said I don’t want to know your face provided the requirements are met, bring them to me, I will sign them within 24 hours and I have signed them.
“I have also said I don’t want to give people licences and they use them as souvenirs; if you are given a licence, you must use it within the terms, or else I will cancel it. Just like t didn’t know you before signing the licence, I will also cancel without blinking an eye.”
According to the minister, the easiest way to get out of the country’s petrol crisis is to increase production.
He said: “If we don’t, the midstream and downstream will also fail. We must produce the crude to refine before distribution.
“But our problem right now which we inherited is the low level of production which was as a result of insecurity issues, lack of investments and all other concerns.
“But we are addressing all those issues and I believe that in the next few months, we will be able to come up with a different report. But we have addressed the issue of insecurity; we have rekindled the confidence of international oil companies to come back and begin to reinvest.”
On the rehabilitation of the country’s refineries, he said the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited will be held accountable for it.
The administration of President Bola Tinubu has reiterated its commitment to revamping the refineries in Port Harcourt. Kaduna, and Warri. Providing details on rehabilitating the refineries, Lokpobiri said the project was on course.
“Yes, the rehabilitation of the refineries, if you could remember, was started by the previous administration,” he said. “And as part of the President’s directive, I have gone round all the refineries and from what they have briefed me, Port Harcourt has three phases; so phase 1 will be ready by the end of this year.”
Lokpobiri added: “For the Warri refinery, they said phase 1 will be ready by the end of the year. Phase 2 and 3 in Port Harcourt will be ready next year and the whole of Kaduna refinery will be ready by the end of next year. That is what they said and I am holding them accountable to their own words.
“I will be going there in the next few weeks. I go there regularly and sometimes without a schedule so that nobody plans for me. I just appear to see what is going on.
“I believe that those refineries, if we can achieve some level of rehabilitation by the end of this year, will also improve our domestic refining capacity. But that is not even the problem, Dangote refinery too is coming.”