By Prince Okafor
THE plan by the Federal Government of Nigeria and its Niger counterpart to establish a refinery has been attracting mixed reactions.
While some stakeholders in the industry commended the Ministry of Petroleum Resources for the initiative, others expressed worries and dismissed it as politically motivated.
Speaking, Chief Executive Officer, Matrix Petro-Chem Limited, Dr. John Erinne, said: “Nevertheless, several questions arise in respect of the project, as announced. Some of these are: How much crude oil is available from Niger? What refinery size, scope, and complexity are envisaged? What are the economics of the project like? Who will own the refinery? What operating model is proposed?
Bearing in mind our experience with the existing NNPC Refineries, it will be another economic catastrophe if government plans to build and operate the refinery. For success, competent private sector petroleum refiners must be involved. That is the only way to ensure that the economics are right and that the operating model will succeed.”
A former President of Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, Emeka Ene, said: “There is very little Intra Africa trade going on, and really for me, as far as African is trading among themselves, it better than drilling out commodities and shipping it across the ocean. I would rather suggest we trade with Niger, Cameroun, or Benin Republic, which add value on the side of the border. So I think we need to encourage Intra Africa trade and open up our border.
“The major strength Nigeria has is its population, and our dynamism, and for me whether it is a refinery, pipeline, gas project or a petrochemical plant, Nigeria has a lot to do in order to gain leadership across the region. We have to recognize that Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, but what people don’t realize is that you have to add the economies of the next two countries before they even come close to that of Nigeria.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had last week met with the President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, and the Energy Minister of the Republic of Niger, Mr. Foumakoye Gado.