Barring any unforeseen development, Nigeria will stop importing refined petroleum products by 2019, so says the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.
Speaking at a public hearing on the review of petroleum pricing template for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), organised by the House of Representatives committee on Petroleum, Kachikwu said within two years, the Federal Government had carried out a major turnaround maintenance of its three major refineries located in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri for them to go into full capacity utilization.
According to him, this was the first time such a massive project was executed in the refineries in the past 15 years.
“As at today, from production of about eight million litres of PMS per day, the refineries are now in a position to put out over 20 million litres daily, meaning that in the next two years, they will be in condition to produce add more than double the volume, such that by the first quarter of 2019, Nigeria will have no business importing petroleum products.
“This feat was possible because the Federal Government initiated a model which attracted foreign investors to partner with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to repair the country’s refineries within the two years period, which is targeted to reach its peak December 2018,” the Minister stated.
He added that by the cognisant of the fact that Dangote is also building a refinery to complement the output of existing ones “the 2019 deadline for stoppage of importation of fuel would have been a fait accompli.”
According to him, there is the urgent need to make the country self reliant on petroleum products as the world is moving away from selling raw materials outside to other countries only to re-import their finished products, adding that even members of OPEC are now working towards laying much emphasis on the international market for crude, given the instability that has been in the trail of the sector.
But sources say this is a change in date of the 2018 earlier given by government as the deadline for stoppage of fuel importation into Nigeria.
They recalled that the heat of the debate over increase in price of fuel from N95 a litre to N145 in June 2016; government had assured stakeholders that Nigeria would stop importation of petroleum product before the end of 2018.
An analyst, Geoffrey Otuya said the persistent scarcity of kerosene and diesel in the market does not portray the picture of effective production of the refineries.
“The Kaduna Refinery was meant to roll out diesel and kerosene, but the two products are the costliest in the country, whereas NNPC and major marketers are still importing more than 80 per cent of the PMS in use in the country, so where is the 30 million litres that are being currently produced by the local refineries?” he said.
In its comments at the event, NNPC said it had concluded plans to license building of medium-sized refineries to about 60 applicants whose papers had passed all checks.
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