By Yemie Adeoye
LAGOSâ€”THE new board Chairman of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, yesterday said that the federal government has failed in the entire downstream sector of the petroleum industry and that was why private investors should invest in building new refineries.
Dr. Ali who dropped this hint on the sidelines of his inspection tour of oil depots in Lagos further opined that without a total overhaul of the downstream sector and the involvement of the private sector in the refining business, the problems bedeviling the downstream sub-sector would not cease.
The former National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also urged NIPCO Plc, the commercial arm of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, to invest in refineries as it was the only way the nation could get out of the problems of supply and distribution of products for domestic consumption.
He said: â€œThere is need for us to encourage private organizations which have done very well in their area of business, and NIPCO is one of such companies. The refineries are a problem and government can not run this business.
Government has failed! Let us call a spade a spade, government has failed!! And that is why this problem has continued. It is time for all these companies to start investing in the refining business in Nigeria because the country must refine its entire domestic products before it can get out of the problems of incessant scarcity of petroleum products.â€
Massive importation of products
Ali who went round facilities of NIPCO Plc in Apapa area of Lagos also noted that the only short term solution to the current scarcity of petrol in the country was massive importation of products by all those involved and licensed to import.
Also speaking, representative of the Managing Director of NIPCO, Mr. Tunji Adeniji said the company was willing to partner with any foreign technical partner who wished to invest in the refining business in Nigeria as the company was ready to take up the challenge and invest in refineries if there was a level playing ground. He said: â€œIf you give us what it takes we are prepared to partner with any technical partner in order to build a refinery in the country.â€
At the corporate headquarters of Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, where Ali was received by the Chairman and Managing Director of the company, Mr. Adetunji Oyebanji, he was told that the major problem facing the downstream sector of the petroleum industry was regulation.
Oyebanji said: â€œIn as much as deregulation may not be the total solution to the problems of the downstream, it is sure to take care of a major part of the problem. There is no enabling environment and that is affecting genuine business. Iâ€™ve always said that petrol is important but can not be more important than food!
â€œIf you regulate the price of beans in the country today you will automatically have the kind of crises you are presently having in the downstream sector facing the food sector as well.Â The enabling environment is lacking and that is why it is very difficult for you to see investments in the refineries even as we agree that it is a major panacea to the country perennial fuel problem.â€
The Ahmadu Ali led board of the PPPRA said it was on an on the spot assessment and inspection of major oil depots in the country as the PPPRA automatically becomes the sole regulator of the downstream sector when the Petroleum Industry Bill currently before the national assembly is passed.