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Depressing News About Port Harcourt Refinery From Minister Of Petroleum

 Olushola Bello

Depressing News About Port Harcourt Refinery From Minister Of Petroleum

Minister of State, Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, on Channels Television’s May 29 Special programme on the first anniversary of President Bola Tinubu stated that the much-publicized mechanical completion of the Port Refinery will not translate to anything until September.

This was after giving Nigerians hope that the plant would start production anytime after December 2023. This was further reinforced by the NNPCL boss Mele Kyari who stated that by the first quarter of 2024,  the plant will start production.

The NNPCL boss even assured Nigerian legislators at the Senate that by April 2024 the refinery would be up and running, now,  the month of May ends tomorrow Friday, the 31st,  yet no drop of fuel is coming from the refinery.

Nigerians woke up yesterday Wednesday only to be told that until September,  nothing can be expected from the refinery.  Are there still men of honour in this administration?  A stakeholder asked.

He said both the legislators and the executives are speaking from both sides of their mouths, and it is difficult to trust them anymore. They have trust deficit which is dangerous for this administration.

According to the minister, a report by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has shown that the Port Harcourt refinery will start petrol production within the next quarter.

Lokpobiri stated this on Channels Television’s May 29 Special programme on the first anniversary of President Bola Tinubu.

“They (NNPC) give me reports weekly. The reports I have on my table before I come here is that hydrocarbon has been introduced which means that within the shortest possible time,” the minister said.

“Even when you introduce hydrocarbons, you need to check whether there are leaks. It is a very gigantic facility.

“The report available to me from the NNPC shows that within the next quarter, hydrocarbons will be refined and sold to the public,” he said.

Failed Deadlines

This was not the first time the minister would tell Nigerians the Port Harcourt refinery would come on stream. On the many previously failed deadlines given by the current administration for the operationalisation of the Port Harcourt refinery, the minister said he should not be blamed for the failed deadlines. “I met the rehabilitation works on ground and told Nigerians what I was briefed,” he said.

Last August, shortly after Lokpobiri was sworn in as minister, he pledged that the Port Harcourt refinery would be back on stream by December 2023. In December, the minister announced to Nigerians that the Port Harcourt refinery had “commenced operation after years of underperformance, closure, and turnaround maintenance” but not a drop of refined petroleum product was discharged at the refinery.

In March, NNPCL Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, said the Port Harcourt refinery would commence operations the following month, saying that mechanical works had been completed on the facility which had received over 450,000 barrels of crude.

However, no fuel was refined at the Port Harcourt refinery as well as the other national refineries in Kaduna and Warri, despite billions of naira spent on the rehabilitation of the state-owned refineries.

With the removal of petrol subsidy in his inaugural speech on May 29, 2023, the price per litre of petrol rose from N184 to over N600 in most parts of the country.

When operational, the national refineries are expected to cushion the biting effect of the removal of petrol subsidy by the President Bola Tinubu administration on Nigerians.

But despite being Africa’s number one oil producer, Nigeria has relied on imports of petroleum products because of a lack of domestic refining capacity. Fuel shortages are commonplace.

 businessstandardsng.com/a strategic cross-reporting initiative

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