By Daniel Atayi
No doubt, for over three Decades (30yrs.) now, Nigeria’s oil refinery and pipeline mechanism have been obsolete and in shadows. Before each or past Ministers of Petroleum or Group Managing Director Of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) assumes official responsibilities, they usually brag in the campaign about how well they could handle the refineries and their antiquated state in Nigeria.
Perhaps to win favouritism from the past various Presidents and Heads of State in order to be placed in charge of the corporation, but none have been able to put the country’s refineries in an optimally efficient and dependable state of refining oil and gas in this country.
One wonders why a nation endowed with such volume of crude, could not afford to refine its crude domestically, despite having four (4) refineries. This wasn’t the case, though, when crude was first discovered in the late 50s to 70s, as oil and gas production were refined and byproducts harnessed domestically while generating huge Gross Domestic Income and non-competitive foreign exchange earnings.
Before this moment, several Petroleum Ministers and Group Managing came and left without a facelift to our refineries despite much ado about rebuilding them!
The worst of all, however, was under Deziani Madueke, the gold amazon, who was Minister of Petroleum under former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Nigerians had hoped that the advent of Ibe Kachukwu in President Muhammadu Buhari first stint, could see our refineries fixed for local production, but alas, same trend, same old stories and promises unachieved.
Today, the President himself is the Minister of and for Petroleum who have just appointed a Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, to replace Maikanti Baru. Kyari was said to have served the nation directly in the oil and gas sector over time and saved the nation of over $1 million in 2016 as a result of his handling of the crude oil SWAP arrangement with products.
Apart from his commitment to this sector, a Geologist that before now, was the group general manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division of the NNPC.
“He also doubled, since May 13, 2018, as Nigeria’s representative to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Therefore, the terrain should not be seen to be unfamiliar for him to tackle the following problems that have long bedevilled our oil sector:
- Obsolete refineries – at least, two out of the 4 refineries should be working efficiently for the refining of crude and its byproducts in Nigeria, before the end of 2023.
- Crude oil theft – it is assumed that a fish in the river, should know the route of meandering and fears no deep. It is therefore expected of him to have adequate knowledge of persons, groups, companies or conglomerate involved in oil theft; he should work with the appropriate Authorities to disengage these ecto and endoparasites that feasts on our nation’s biggest GDI resource and bring them to book!
- Inadequate infrastructure – in terms of productive capacity, in the oil and gas sector, it is important to ensure that all necessary mechanism and manpower required for efficient and effective home delivery, are provided. This would undo the idea of exporting crude to foreign countries to refine, thereby, exporting the job opportunities attached to its production. It is wrong to export crude and sells cheaply against other by-products within the crude that are of economic value.
- Fuel subsidy and Price regulations.
- The legislative framework that would make the sector autonomous and get all the support needed to produce locally to add to our economy.
To whom much is given, much is expected
I leave you with the fact that national complexity and foreign bureaucracy could be responsible for the dilapidated and obsolete state of our refineries, it is, therefore, time to revamp that sector as one of Nigeria’s enterprises!