By Sebastine Obasi, Houston, Texas
Hope of reducing Nigeria’s export of its crude oil overseas for refining has been rekindled by the assurance of the Group Managing Director, GMD, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru that the nation will achieve at least 90 per cent refining capacity by the end of 2019.
Speaking at the 50th Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, in Houston, Texas, USA, Baru stated that achieving full capacity restoration of the nation’s four refineries will transform Nigeria from being a net exporter of crude oil to being a net exporter of petroleum products.
He said: “In terms of refining and production of local petroleum products, we have faced the challenge head-on and we are fully committed to the Ministerial directive of ending the importation of petroleum products before the end of 2019. “We are in talks with the original builders of the refineries to return them to at least 90 per cent capacity utilisation before the 2019 deadline. The expectation is for Nigeria to transform from being a net exporter of crude oil to being a net exporter of petroleum products.
“To this end, we proceeded with tendering of the rehabilitation programmes of our four refineries using a contractor- financing model. The process is almost complete and successful companies for the different projects will soon be announced. This model is expected to be a self-sustaining financial model with near zero reliance on the Federal Government funds.
“For smooth running and implementation, we are also changing the operating and commercial framework of the refineries to make them work efficiently and also be commercially viable.”
Available reports showed that Nigeria’s refineries operate far below their combined capacity of 445,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to years of neglect, as well as theft from pipelines and sabotage, thus forcing the country to import nearly all the fuel it consumes, a hefty burden because of price caps on petrol.