The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, says refineries in the country have not lived up to expectations because they are government-owned.
Osinbajo made this statement in Abuja on Thursday while speaking at the 2017 African Modular Refinery Discussion organised by the Modular Refiners Association of Nigeria (MRAN).
The acting president said the government should be creating an enabling environment for business not setting up refineries.
According to him, “Government cannot just go and be setting up refineries. If government sets up refineries and uses its people to run it, it won’t work. We have good examples in all the refineries that we have seen.
“If you look at the refineries we have today – Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna – the primary reason they are not working today is because they are government run.
“Government cannot do business. Government’s business is to create the enabling environment for business. And then government would put some investment into it.
“Government should not be in the business of setting up refineries all over the place; that is just a waste of time and resources.”
The acting president explained that while total deregulation of the oil sector would be cost effective for producers, it would have dire consequences on the economy.
“There are those who are saying we need to deregulate fully. Why are they saying that, it is because if we do not deregulate it will not be cost effective for those who are producing petrol to sell.
“At the same time, if you deregulate completely, prices of everything else are going to go up. So there are those complications, meaning we’ve got to moderate all those things.
“Government has to come in at a certain level and this is what is currently going on to try and balance things, because we cannot have, just overnight, another massive deregulation.
“If you do that, obviously, the consequences would be very dire for the economy.”
Osinbajo said oil producing communities would be made to acquire stakes in refineries set up in their communities under the new modular refineries initiative being pursued by the federal government.
He noted that private investors, state and federal government would have stakes in the refineries.
He said, “We do owe ourselves as a nation, the responsibility to exploit for ourselves, indigenously, the raw materials that we have. This is exactly the motive behind our trying to establish modular refineries across the Niger Delta particularly and wherever we can find oil and gas resources.
“There are very serious reason for the modular refineries initiative, such as environmental reason, and the reason of law and order to ensure that we regulate production. The second and possibly more important reason is the fact that the raw materials is there.
“There is no nation on the face of the earth that would have the sheer amount of oil and gas resources that we have and would not be innovative and creative about it in processing and production.”