By Godfrey Bivbere
Former Minister of Interior and maritime operator, Emmanuel Iheanacho, has said that liberation and local refining of crude oil in the country is the solution to petroleum scarcity in the country.
Speaking with Vanguard, Iheanacho said liberalisation will result in more investors coming into the industry, a decision that will lead to a fall in prices as well as the availability of the products, especially Petroleum Motor Spirit, PMS.
He explained that with the increase in the production volume, the local demand will be met while the remaining can be exported to other countries.
Iheanacho also said that there is a need for the authorities to engage those involved in illegal refining in a bid to ascertain those that can help to commence refining legally.
His words: “I think that the lasting solution is for the government to liberalize and deregulate the sector. If we continue to regulate the sector, in terms of determining what volumes we are going to bring, there is going to see shortages all the time.
“If we allow that, market forces will intervene. So this is an opportunity to supply profitably because people will want to invest. If many investors pour into the market, the price will fall. So, we should really stop the business of providing subsidy in respect of PMS.
“Subsidy does not benefit poor people rather it creates greater difficulty for them. The people who really benefit from the administration of subsidy are people who can afford to buy fuel at market rates. So, we really need to consider deregulation as quickly as possible, complete removal of subsidy, the encouragement of free competition.
“The government’s role will be to regulate the quality that is supplied. The intervention of Nigerian refineries by being able to refine our crude, if the crude is down in the ground and we produce it and there are lots of Nigerians that have expressed their interest to become refiners and have made investments, it will be made possible for them to emerge as refiners. Therefore, there will be a surplus as regards the products that we can consume ourselves and the remaining we can sell to third parties.