09 November 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The Director, Directorate of Modular Refineries, Mr. Pat Obiene, has accused the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, HOSTCOM, of making moves to displace artisanal refiners, more popularly known as illegal refiners, in the Federal Government’s plan of establishment of modular refineries in the Niger Delta.
He stated this in Port Harcourt, saying it was worrisome that some individuals in HOSTCOM had diverted the attention of the government away from the actual reason for the drive to establishing modular refineries.
Obiene noted that idea was to organise the artisanal or illegal refiners and give them a legal status to operate in the oil and gas industry and to stop attacks on oil installations, adding that the Ministry of Petroleum had already encouraged the artisanal refiners to form cooperatives.
He said: “The main vision and main objective for the establishment of modular refineries in the Niger Delta region have been blurred and defeated respectively.
“The idea of modular refineries was made in Port Harcourt by the Vice (then Acting) President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. The intention was to legally organize the many illegal refineries that dot the entire Niger Delta into profitable ventures and to end the repeated bursting of crude oil pipes.
“The Ministry of Petroleum resources designed a process whereby it asked the artisanal refiners to form co-operatives and to apply for licenses. It is evident that many co-operatives have done this.
“The idea of a central body in HOSTCOM applying for and intending to run all the artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta negates this principle and must be resisted.
“We therefore dismiss any claims by HOSTCOM and hereby call on the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to immediately issue a statement on these claims by HOSTCOM.”
Obiene, who is also a Niger Delta activist, said that the refuter of HOSTCOM was necessary because of the effect it was already having on the youths of the Niger Delta, noting that some of the youths have gone back to their ‘old trade’.
On the claim that HOSTCOM has monopolised the federal government planned Modular refineries to replace artisan crude oil refining in oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta, Obiene stated that the entire report was only misleading.
He stated that such claim was capable of causing a complete failure and disintegration of the lofty vision and effort of the vice president and the Minister of State for petroleum of a peaceful and calm Niger Delta.
Obiene stressed that no Memorandum of Understanding has been entered between in the FG and HOSTCOM, noting that the details of the signed agreements should be made public if in existence.
He said: “It is also to be seen as deflection, deception, diversion and denial against the people of the Niger Delta. The effect is already evident. Some of the artisanal refiners, dissatisfied with government foot dragging have gone back to the trade after an initial lull.”
“The Memoranda of Understanding HOSCOM claimed to have entered with communities should indicate to us those that constitute the communities. Are these communities drawn from the actual artisan refiners and those that crack the pipes?
“Also, HOSTCOM should be able to tell us the specific lands they surveyed and who are the communities that have signed Memoranda of Understanding with it. We will also wish to know if these memos include the artisanal refiners or is it composed of only greedy business men who have done so much harm to the youth of the Niger Delta,” Obiene said.