By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA – THEÂ Â Â Â IndependentÂ Â Â Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN) has said it plans to build a refinery in the country to reduce the challenges associated with importation of fuel and other petroleum products, a situation which it said has cost the nation millions of dollars in oil revenue.
The newly-elected President of IPMAN, Alhaji Aminu Abdulkadir, made this known on Wednesday, in an interview with journalists at the background of the maiden meeting of the Central Working Committee of the organisation.
He said the organisation was interested in building a refinery to maximize efficiency in the production and distribution of crude products but was waiting for the governmentâ€™s final white paper on the oil industry.
According to him, â€œConstructing a refinery is not a simple issue. You cannot construct a refinery without knowing the governmentâ€™s position on crude oil. Is the government going to give us crude at a concessionary rate, or are they going to say all private refineries will get the same incentives?â€
Abdulkadir also noted that the new leadership was also assessing the debts owed its members, and is in discussion with the Petroleum Equalisation Fund on how to get the bridging claims of members transporting imported products from coastal areas to inland depots.
He noted that the NNPC still owed the PEF about N9 billion being equalization payments that accumulated over a period of time and should have been transferred to the independent marketers.
â€œThe Managing Director of PPMC is taking the issue very seriously with the corporate headquarters. Between now and next week, we hope it will be paid so that our members can get their money,â€ he said.
He further noted that the union had over the years shown that it was committed to the development of the sector due to the nature of projects it had undertaken in cities like Lagos, Benin, and recently, efforts towards expanding farm tanks to the northern part of the country.
He said, â€œEverybody knows that NIPCO, our commercial arm, has one of the most modern terminals in Nigeria. We will continue with the expansion of our depots in the East, maybe in Port Harcourt and Calabar, in addition to the one in Lagos.â€
Meanwhile, IPMAN has thrown its weight behind Federal Governmentâ€™s plans to deregulate the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry, even as it urges for a â€œguided deregulationâ€, which would ensure that needs of the group are met.
He said as a trade union representing the interest of businessmen, IPMAN would demand favourable concessions from the government, if it must give its full backing to the planned deregulation.
He said, â€œWe are principally businessmen, and would seek policies and concessions that would favour our businesses as well as contribute to the growth and development of the sector. Therefore, we have said that we will only support guided deregulation which would not jeopardize our interests as a trade union.â€
Abdulkadir added, â€œIf government is ready to open up the downstream sector, what will be the position of independent marketers? We have signed bulk purchase agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and many of our members constructed several petrol stations because of that agreement.
â€œTherefore, there is a need for NNPC to sit with IPMAN and agree on modalities for the deregulation because IPMAN is a major factor in the oil industry and cannot be ignored in policy formulation.â€
According to the IPMAN boss, the group was ready to support full deregulation, but it would not settle for any policy that would harm the businesses of its members.
â€œWe are still talking with the ministry, NNPC, and members of the Oil and Gas Reforms Implementation Committee so that independent petroleum marketers will not be left out,â€ Abdulkadir remarked.