o9 December 2015, Abuja – The House of Representatives on Wednesday mandated its Committees on Petroleum Resources, Upstream, and Downstream, to investigate the lingering crisis in the supply petroleum products in the country. This followed a motion moved by Rep. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama (PDP-Edo) which was unanimously adopted.
Leading the debate, Ogbeide-Ihama said that Nigerians were experiencing difficulties because of persistent problems confronting the oil and gas sector. He blamed the lingering scarcity of petroleum products on absence of functional refineries to serve local consumption.
“This is responsible for the dependence on imported products, hence the regular fuel crisis in the country which is causing untold hardship to Nigerians,’’ the lawmaker said. According to him, the Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri refining and petrochemical companies were reported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to have incurred debts amounting to about N120. 07 billion in August and September.
“While their revenue in August was N146.617billion, their expenditure was N207.287 billion; in September, the revenue generated by the refineries was N112.514 billion and expenditure was pegged at N171.914 billion,’’ he said. Ogbeide-Ihama said that in spite of the debts incurred by the refineries, “the capacity utilisation of Warri and Kaduna refineries in September was said to be zero per cent as both plants did not process crude in that month.
“The Port Harcourt Refining Company was reported to have produced at 4.15 per cent capacity which is a far cry from its installed capacity.’’ Rep. Nnamdi Agbo (PDP-Enugu) called on the Federal Government to deregulate the oil and gas sector.
“Rep. Sergius Oseasochie (APC-Edo) advocated that the refineries should be handed over to competent and reliable companies to handle on behalf of the government.
Contributing, Rep. Hassan Saleh (PDP-Benue) expressed worry that none of the companies issued licenses to establish refineries in the country had done something in that regard. “None of them could establish the smallest refinery; apart from few major cities, people are buying petrol more than N100,’’ he said.
However, Majority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos), said it was unfortunate that nobody had explained why the refineries had failed to function. According to him, nobody had answered why refineries work in other parts of the world but don’t work in Nigeria.
Gbajabiamila cautioned that removing oil subsidy now would affect living condition of Nigerians. “Let us first develop the political will to fix the refineries, then, we can begin to talk about the removal of subsidy. “If you remove the subsidy now, it will skyrocket the cost of living for the common man,’’ he said.