07 March 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA- Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Maduekwe says the Nigerian government would not force producing companies in the country to go into refining of petroleum products in order to meet local demand.
Speaking with State House Correspondents after the meeting of refineries’ top executives officers with President Goodluck Jonathan in the Aso Rock Villa, Tuesday, she said that government has no plan to attach the building of refineries to granting of future oil prospecting licenses as a way to ensure the construction of new refineries in the country, as such measure was not a commercially viable option.
“For every acreage that is allocated to be attached to a refinery is impossible. For instance, if you give 25 licenses, we cannot be expecting 25 refineries to be built. What we we are trying to do is to rationally determine the commercial viability and the quantum of refineries that will be needed in the country over and beyond the traditional national refineries, and to attract that green field investment with private equity and the least government equity involved.”
Mrs. Alison-Maduekwe led top executives of the nation’s existing four refineries to meet Mr. President with a view to briefing him on efforts towards optimising the refineries’ output.
The minister regretted that the nation’s refineries could not meet local fuel demand due to out-modeled plants.
“A lot of crude,” she said, is lost s lost “through incessant vandalism and infrastructural problems.,” noting that some of the refineries were out modeled and with out dated equipment and instrumentation.
According to her, the refineries top-notch had to brief the President on the realities on ground to place the nation’s number one man on a sound footing on the current state of affairs in the sub-sector which she said was necessary for sound policy formulation and implementation in the industry.
She added that the President was also briefed on the greenfield refines, turn around maintenance and governance structure and a general overview of what came out from the retreat.
The Minister remarked that in spite of the global economic downtown which ensured that refineries were making marginal profits, government would ensure that it’s refineries were brought to at least 80-90 percent capacity utilisation range.
“Whether we like it or not, we must improve and maintain continuous improvement in the ability to refine our own products and supply at least the higher quantum of refined products for the country’s use. That is a critical necessity and that is what we have to do,” she said.
“We are looking not just at the challenges but fashioning a strategy framework, very robust and aggressive one for moving forward, making a major step change in the way our national refineries are addressed,” she said.