…uncover extra-budgetary expenditures

…Port Harcourt facility to be ready in March, 2023 – NNPC

…$1.5 billion spent onnehabilitation-Refinery MD

By Levinus Nwabughiogu, Abuja

House of Representatives, Friday, said that its resolution to probe the state of four refineries was to ascertain their viability and the need to stop monetary approval for subsidy payments.

The House spoke through its ad-hoc committee set up for the investigation.

Speaking at the resumed investigative hearing of the committee chaired by Hon. Ganiyu Johnson, a member of the Committee, Hon. Johnson Ogumah told journalists that Nigerians needed to know why the country had continued to import fuel when it can refine crude locally.

The committee had engaged the Nigerian National Petroleum Company NNPC and Sapien engineering company handling the contract for the $1.3 billion rehabilitation exercise of the refinery.

 Ogumah said: “The facts are there. You know this exercise is investigative. We cannot conclude now. I cannot come to the conclusion now. At the appropriate time, Nigerians will know. This exercise came as a result of the oil subsidy money that we are supposed to appropriate for again. We now say with this huge amount of money, we need to know what is happening to our refineries. Also, another committee was set up to verify the number of litres that we consume per day. Everything is working to arrive at a solution that will benefit Nigerians.”

Similarly, another member of the committee, Hon. Ibrahim Isiaka who later served held brief for the substantive chairman in the course of the hearing said that the committee was fact finding one. 

He said that the committee will embark on a physical inspection of the refineries especially Port Harcourt facility there a rehabilitation exercise was ongoing to ascertain the level of investment already made in them. 

He said “We need to put so many things in their right perspectives and allow Nigerians to know the challenges we are having and we put heads together to know how we are going to solve them. It’s so unfortunate that we have left what we are supposed to do undone and we have come to this level. But nothing is spoiled yet. We are on what we called damage control. The committee is a kind of fact finding so that we can have legislative input on how to assist the NNPC and the refineries managers on how we can come back on stream. 

“We want to assure you that whatever that is going to be our recommendation at the end of the day will be you on that side and we on the side as legislators have come to agree on the round table.

“We want to appeal by Thursday, June 9, 2022, we are going converge again here. Lee and other contractors, those that are not even here, we will write to them, please, honor is again. 

“It is not a witch hunting programme. It’s an exercise. Of course, you have how majority of us turned up. It’s all in the interest of the nation. 

“What actually are we trying to find out? It is about our refineries. We have 4 refineries and we have an allocation of about 420 to 450, 000 barrels of crude for local refining and utilization, yet we are importing fuel, paying for subsidy, yet the refineries are not willing. We are paying salaries, many of the equipment, we cannot maintain them and in the last how many months or years, we cannot process even one barrel of crude. So it’s funny.

“There have been so many petitions to National assembly about how much has been spent in the last 10 years about rehabilitation, turnaround maintenance, overhauling, all sorts of names of our refineries and yet we can’t get them works. 

“Then, again, you can see the revelations. Even Warri and Kaduna refineries, as you can see, if you pump money to put the refineries back in place, how do we get crude because the pipeline networks are already in bad shape.

“And Port Harcourt refinery, the old and new they are trying to fix, we equally advised them, if you have old and new and you are to move at certain stage to get your engineering procurement, installation for the new one, at least one aspect, get it running. Let’s see. All Nigerians are eager to see that petroleum produced here.

“We are going to the field. It is just going to be a class room academic exercise. We are going to verify. We are going there to have physical checks. We just want to establish our facts, arm ourselves with what we are able to extract from their documents and then, when we go there, you are asking specific questions to get specific answers.”

Earlier, the committee had enquired to know when the ongoing rehabilitation exercise of Port Harcourt refinery will be completed to which the group managing director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari represented by the General Manager, Refineries & Petrochemicals, Mustapha Yakubu said it will be ready by March, 2023.

In his remarks, the Managing Director of Port Harcourt refinery, Ahmed Dikko told the Committee that a total of 1.5 dollars was spent on the two Port Harcourt refineries.

He also confirmed the technical survey of the nation’s refineries by Sapien engineering company.

He could not however say amount expended on the turnaround maintenance of the refineries in the last 10 years when asked just as he said that the value of Port Harcourt refinery was running into billions of dollars.

He stated that the last Turn Around Maintenance on Port Harcourt Refinery was done in 2000, adding that up till 2018 the Refinery was not operating optimally hence shutdown deliberately for the purpose of the ongoing rehabilitation.

The lawmakers also engaged on the representative of Sapien Company which got the contract of $135 million for the comprehensive technical survey of Port Harcourt refineries on the rehabilitation contract.

To this end, the Committee requested for FEC approval of the $1.3 billion, approval of various expenditures incurred on the 26th July, 2017 worth $5.321 million for comprehensive technical plants as well as another $55 million paid on the same day.

Reeding through the documents submitted by NNPC to the Committee, the lawmakers also observed that similar contracts for the three refineries were awarded to another company (Technomont) in 2019.

They demanded that all relevant documents to made available to the committee for further investigation.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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