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Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector yesterday faulted the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on reason advanced for the prolonged delay in fixing the nation’s dilapidated refineries.
The minister had, at the close of the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit in Abuja, said government was looking at the best way to overhaul the facilities.
He specifically stated that the NNPC was weighing options at making the oil infrastructure operational. Consequently, its management is meeting in the coming week on revamping the national assets.
Kachikwu also disclosed that over $50 billion investments had been attracted into the sector.
On his part, the national oil agency’s Chief Operating Officer, Refineries, Kragha Anibor, observed that the fundamental issues impacting the ability or inability of the refineries to deliver on their mandate had been lack of funds.
Reacting, the Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Chidi Izuwah, stated government must let go of its dominance in the downstream sector and bring in the private sector.
“This is the only way to go. When you bring in the private sector, you must change the incentive structure,” he said
He canvassed the concessioning of the oil installations, adding that unless that was done, the needed investments would not come.
“There is a huge opportunity in refining. The role of government is to create the enabling environment to attract investors into the sector, the way it was done for the telecommunications industry.
“The same thing for the infrastructure for distribution and reticulation. The entire depot system is not functional. There is no will. The depot system has to work. You should also at the same time concession it to the private sector. They would make the investment and then, those assets would start to earn revenue for government,” Iziwah added.
The Chief Executive Officer, OVH Energy Marketing, Huub Stillman, regretted that Nigeria remained one of the few Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members without operational refineries.
He noted: “Activities on revamping the existing refineries are a good one, you have to sustain them. You need to develop skills for maintenance.”