Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu has stated that there was no approval to sell the nation’s refineries or give them out to private investors as concessions. Kachikwu said that Federal Executive Council had only approved the National Gas Policy that would help unlock the gas sector for greater benefit to the country.
The minister was apparently reacting to the recent warning by Group Executive Chairman, NNPC Branch of PENGASSAN, Mr. Abdullahi Sale, against the full concession of the nation’s refineries. Speaking at the national conference of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Kachikwu said the nation’s refineries located in Kaduna, Warri and Port Harcourt were not up for sale. He said, “I like to see gas flare out exiting here over the next three years. I would like to see refineries, which have been embroiled in all sorts of confusion, finally kick off. There have been no attempt and there is no approval to concede or to sell the refineries. “What we have approved is to bring in a financing mechanism that will enable us finance, develop and upgrade the refineries as they are today. In their present epileptic performance levels, they will become obsolete over the next three, four years. The reality is that we want the private sector players to begin to build their own refineries. “Whatever it is we are protecting will disappear. Unless we begin to move very rapidly and very quickly to position these refineries in such a way that they can compete, we will lose the refineries completely, together with all the job skills that exist in those areas.”
He added, “What are we doing is to ensure that the policies we put in place have forceful, dramatic movements into the gas play. I am just coming from the Federal Executive Council, where we presented a memo on the gas policy and it has been approved today. “Unless we can build the twin engines of earnings between petroleum and gas, we are not likely to see an improvement in our economy. Gas is the future for this country, it is the place to be and we need to begin to look at that.”
On the importation of refined petroleum products, he said, “For me, the whole idea of continuing importation of petroleum products in this country is a shame. We are the only ones when we go for OPEC meetings that are still struggling to import petroleum products when we should be able to produce, even if it is only the petroleum products that we need in this country.”