The reported concession of the Port Harcourt refinery is still shrouded in uncertainty and confusion as the Presidency on Monday denied knowledge of such a process.
The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) under the Presidency in a reply to enquiries by Keyamo Chambers, stated that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation never approached it “on any plan to grant a concession of the said refinery or any other arrangement with any private company for the repair, operation and maintenance of the said refinery”.
The commission further informed that “if there is such an arrangement, the NNPC is required under the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (Establishment Etc) Act 2005 (the Ad’) and National Policy on PPP 2009 to liaise with the Commission for regulatory guidance prior to entering into any contract”.
Director General of the ICRC, Amino Diko who signed the reply to Keyamo Chambers’ inquiry further stated that the Commission only read about the proposed transaction in a newspaper “which reported a decision by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to revitalize the nation’s refineries using Repair, Operate and Maintain financing mechanism”.
The commission emphasised, that “There is no concession on the Refinery and therefore, the Commission does not have any documentation regarding the mid concession”.
It would be recalled that the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources , Mr. Ibe Kachikwu had while on a trip to Houston, U.S.A in May stated that the Federal government had got bids from investors to revamp the three refineries, and would make known the preferred offers by September.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Oando Plc, Mr. Wale Tinubu, had subsequently disclosed that his firm, along with Nigeria Agip Oil had been selected to take over the Port Harcourt refinery, thus raising questions about the transparency of the selection process and the overall transaction.
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had also expressed ignorance of the proposed rehabilitation and operation under a concession arrangement of the 210,000 barrels per day (bpd) Port Harcourt Refinery by the two oil firms.
Although the BPE had listed the refinery along with Warri and Kaduna refineries on its privatisation schedule, it was gathered, that it has also not been involved in the alleged plans by the federal government to concession the said refinery to Agip and Oando, a transaction oil and gas business experts have faulted.
There are concerns that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the NNPC may have carried on the refinery concession plan without the involvement of other relevant agencies, who have been left in the dark on the concession arrangement.
The Senate had recently ordered immediate stoppage of all processes and transactions on the planned concession of the Port Harcourt Refinery to the firms with a contractual term of $15 billion.
The Senate also set up a seven-man ad-hoc committee to probe the $15 billion contract, and gave the members a mandate to inquest and reveal how and why such a deal was sealed and the criteria used to select Agip/ENI and Oando Plc as the beneficiaries of the concession agreement which is to maintain and operate the Port Harcourt Refinery.
The committee is also expected to find out the real cost of the concession to the nation as well as the real time frame of the concession.
Meanwhile, youths in the oil rich Niger Delta recently vowed to shut down all oil operations in the region over the controversial concession of the Port Harcourt Refinery.
The group under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum (PANDLEAF) in a statement by Famous Daunemigha, President and Michael Ekpo, Secretary, said they are not against privatisation of the ailing refineries towards reviving them, but accused Kachikwu, of double-speak to rationalize his determination to sell the refinery to the exclusion of host communities.
“We were shocked to hear him announcing sale of same refinery in disguise, playing on the semantics of concession to financiers, apparent euphemism for selling the refinery to Agip and Oando, which names have been favoured in an unpopular private bidding. It’s very unfortunate that our leaders speak from both sides”, they lamented.
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