Senate demands to know status of modular refineries

The Senate, yesterday, urged its Petroleum Committee  on  downstream and upstream sectors of the oil industry, when constituted, to invite the Minister of Petroleum and the Managing Director of Nigerian  National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari, to brief it on the status of existing refineries, including the status of newly licensed  modular refineries in the country.

The decision followed a motion  by Rose Oko, tagged: Existing Petroleum Subsidy: Ensuring  Self -Sufficiency in Domestic Refining of Petroleum Products.

The motion had  42 other senators as sponsors.

In his contribution, Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, called on the Executive arm to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and give it to the Nigerian investors as collateral for building modular refineries.

He said if 10 modular refineries are established, it would automatically put an end to the fuel subsidy regime and also earn more income for the government.

Speaking on the motion, Oko said although Nigeria produces 1.7 million barrels of crude oil  per day, its moribund refineries had very little refining capacity.

She said the nation imports roughly 90 per cent of its fuel, negating much of the benefits accruing to oil producing nations from high crude prices.

She said despite the resources expended on turn around maintenance, none of the NNPC’s  four refineries  currently functions  up to 50 per cent of  their  combined capacity of 445,000 barrels per day.

She said that the  objective of modular refineries is to overcome the huge capital requirement that impedes establishment and maintenance of large scale refineries. This, she said, would  ensure self sufficiency in the production and supply of petroleum products.

Oko said data from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) website had  indicated that a total of 633,000 barrels per day refining capacity had already been lost due to the expiration of licenses of both conventional and modular refinery projects.

She said Nigeria had introduced petroleum subsidy in the 1980s as a measure to strengthen local refining industry and improve product affordability and domestic  consumption. She, however, said successive adminstrations had failed to make Nigeria self-sufficient in domestic production.

The senator said despite the dire need to exit petroleum importation and subsidy, there was neither a comprehensive plan to ensue its actualisation.

She said there was no form of technical and financial aid for refinery  licence holders to ensure the  refineries become operational. In his remark, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the motion was designed to ensure that the 43 licensed modular refineries become operational.

He said there is need to support them to become active. He said the senate must make it a duty to  ensure the   establishment of the modular refineries. He said the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was also key to the optimal utilisation of the refineries and emergence  of the modular refineries.

 

Source: The Sun

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