• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Oil thieves cripple refinery, new boss cries to Amaechi


The two Israeli-made security helicopters just acquired by the Rivers State government may be immediately deployed to rescue the Port Harcourt Refinery which has been under threat by constant vandalism of crude supply lines as well as product supply pipelines.

The new managing director of the refinery, Ian G. Udoh, forced the hand of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on Wednesday when he visited the seat of power and cried out for help. The Port Harcourt Refining Company is a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Udoh said, “Our main mission here is to seek support. We need very strong support in securing the crude oil supply pipeline”.

He identified vandalism and crude theft as the problems confronting the Port Harcourt Refining Company, saying this has disrupted the normal supply of petroleum products. He sought the governor’s assistance to fight the menace.

The new MD said, “This is the greatest threat to the existence of refining in this country, also to this Port Harcourt Refining Company and its operations. The crude oil supply pipelines have been under a spate of unprecedented attacks in recent times and products evacuation pipelines suffer similar threats”.

Before the fresh attacks came, he said, the refinery was pumping out six million litres of petrol per day and 17 million litres of product daily collectively. He said there was no issue with the host communities.

Udoh also disclosed that all NNPC refineries in the country would in the next few years undergo an original builder-led rehabilitation that would increase their capacity utilisation to 90 percent.

Responding, Governor Amaechi suspected that those gaining from fuel importation may be behind the spate of sabotage of the Port Harcourt Refinery. He said, “So I will partner with you in that regard and I wish you success”.

He expressed readiness to secure crude oil supply pipelines in the state and urged the Port Harcourt Refining Company and other oil multinationals in the state to be truly involved to work with the state government to provide the needed security for oil pipelines.

On the deployment of the new bullet-proof choppers, the governor said, “You must then join the oil companies to bear the cost of operations and maintenance, yearly or monthly, I don’t want to know how, because we brought the money to be able to purchase those two helicopters. They are bullet-proof, they are equipped with sophisticated security gadgets and they record in real-time”.