The Nigerian government says it has resolved to completely overhaul all the country’s refineries, and ensure their sustained maintenance through sourced financing from private oil firms operating in the country, under a new arrangement.
Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu confirmed this on Thursday at a meeting with the Senate, following accusations of a planned concessioning of the Port Harcourt refinery.
The Senate, had through its resolution passed on May 31, in a motion moved by Senator Mohammed Sabo from Jigawa State, alleging that the federal government had completed plans to concession Port Harcourt Refinery to AGIP/ENI and Oando Plc, without following the due process, set up an Ad-hoc committee to carry out a thorough investigation on the alleged move.
However, at a public hearing, the office of the Secretary to the government; the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu;the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru and others, denied allegations of any moves to concession the refinery.
In his submission, the Minister of State for Petroleum, explained to the Ad-hoc Committee, chaired by Senator Abubakar Kyari, that the alleged planned concession story on the refinery must have emanated from concerted efforts being made by his ministry and NNPC, to revamp all the refineries and not that of Port Harcourt alone.
According to him, what is in the pipeline for all the refineries by government, is an arrangement where private investors would bring in money for their repairs to optimal capacities, which will bring about expected incremental volume in their production, where their money would be recouped .
“The planned arrangement is the only viable alternative for the federal government as far as repair work on the refineries are concerned, since the turn around maintenance carried out over the years has failed”, he said.
He vehemently denied making any remarks credited to him on alleged planned concession as reported by some dailies .
Although the Chief Executive Officer of OANDO Plc, Mr Wale Tinubu also denied ever making any remark in the media on the alleged concession of Port Harcourt refinery to his company by the federal government, the Petroleum Minister accused him of jumping the gun even by his submission that the refinery had been packaged for Oando’s rehabilitation.
Addressing participants at the one day punlic hearing,the chairman of the committee said facts had emerged at the session that the arrangement being made for the repair of the refineries were not open to all stakeholders in the oil industry and were not in line with the laid down procedure.
He admonished the Minister and other policy makers in the industry to ensure that the planned arrangement for revamping, rehabilitation and maintenance of refineries should follow due process in line with extant laws.
The Senate President, Dr, Bukola Saraki while declaring the event open, urged the committee to leave no stone unturned to get to the root of the matter without fear nor favour, saying it was important to do things in the right manner in order not to send wrong signals to investors and international development partners.