Monday, 10 August 2015

Why Buhari won’t sell refineries

Port Harcourt refineries• Stakeholders’ expectations from new NNPC’s directors
• Want focus on self-sufficiency in petroleum products
STRONG indications have emerged in Abuja that President Muhammadu Buhari may not be in a hurry to sell Nigeria’s three refineries.
It was understood he may not do so because it may place the economy in the hands of the private sector and lay it open for possible exploitation which may bring hardship to poor Nigerians.
Meanwhile, expectations are soaring that Nigeria may begin to enjoy the benefits of crude oil resources following the leadership change and restructuring at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Stakeholders in the oil and gas industry are of the opinion that in order to make a remarkable impact, the new heads at the NNPC would have to vigorously pursue the Federal Government’s aspiration to transform the industry, especially the NNPC into an integrated oil and gas company by introducing policies and strategies that will improve crude oil production.
A source told The Guardian: “The thinking of this present government is to minimise waste through prudent management of resources and tame corruption. The appointment of Dr Emmanuel Kachikwu as Group Managing Director of the NNPC is meant to achieve his aim of zero tolerance for corruption in the operations of subsidiaries of the NNPC.”
The Guardian gathered that the President’s decision might have been buoyed by the feat of local engineers who successfully carried out the Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the ailing refineries after the original manufacturer turned down an offer to rehabilitate them.
It was gathered that the President is convinced that corruption is at heart of the ailing refineries and that good and efficient management could return them to summit of their installed capacity. may be avoiding an early collision with Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), which has continually opposed the sale or outright privatization of the refineries.
Stakeholders fault past management of refineries
Speaking recently, the National President of Nigerian Association of Energy Economics (NAEE), Prof Wumi Iledare said the approach government has adopted to manage the refineries or seek investment have been wrong.
He explained that government ought to issue simple ‘permits’ as against making them buy licenses, which cost so much money.
Specifically, Iledare argued that building of new refineries would have a multi-dimensional layer in creation of jobs and business opportunities .
His words: “Government should not give license for building of refineries, but should give permits instead to people that want to build refineries based on environmental impact assessment, technical capabilities and financial resources. There should be a tenders board to evaluate the claims for that purpose and the Nigerian people must also know the owners of the planned refineries.
Above all, there must be consistency in policy by the Federal Government.
Those who got licenses did so because government said it was selling off the refineries and efforts were on to remove the subsidy, which was an incentive for the private sector to move in and take advantage of the liberalized environment.

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