Wale Tinubu, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Oando PLC, the leading indigenous energy player in Nigeria, appeared before the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources weekend, to correct allegations regarding Oando’s supposed role in the privatisation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
“As indicated in the rejoinder statement we published, I must explicitly state that no mandate for the concession, sale, equity transfer or privatization of the Port Harcourt refinery or any of the nation’s refineries has been signed with Oando.
As a crude exporter and supplier of refined products to the country, it is intuitive and patriotic for us to be interested in the refurbishment and upgrade of the refineries.
Our proposed participation as a local partner in this effort is an opportunity to drive the country forward and accelerate the process to see product security realized in this dispensation.
We share the vision of the Nigerian Government to become a petroleum product self-sufficient country in the short to medium term, and ultimately be a net exporter.
The Port Harcourt refinery remains a national asset, under the full control of the NNPC as far as we are aware,” Tinubu said in a statement to the Committee Chairman Senator Kabir Garba Marafa of Zamfara state
Nigeria’s refineries have continued to lie in a perpetual state of disrepair and encounter capacity utilization challenges due to sporadic crude supply, lack of funding, challenged maintenance execution, and bureaucracy.
The Senate initiated a hearing following misleading reports which indicated that the Port Harcourt refinery was due to be sold via a privatization or concession exercise with Oando and Eni as the preferred consortium.
Initial findings from the Upper Legislative Chamber show that the NNPC is still at a preliminary stage of information gathering regarding the proposed refurbishment and highlights Aniebor Kragha’s, the NNPC’s Chief Operating Officer, Refineries, indication that President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive has always been a non-privatization of the country’s refineries.
However, President Buhari has always supported the potential engagement of strategic investors with refining experience and funding capacity to partner local players who understand Nigeria’s downstream oil market to revamp the refineries.
In a bid to strengthen international relations, ENI (an Italian oil and gas company), committed to support the rehabilitation of the country’s refineries, specifically the Port Harcourt refinery in which it has a long history of technical involvement.
Earlier this year, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Chairman of the Board of the NNPC, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu met with ENI CEO, Claudio Descalzi, to discuss further cooperation between ENI and the Nigerian government within the energy sector.
The NNPC and ENI, through its local subsidiaries, Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and Nigerian Agip Exploration (NAE), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote new activities which would significantly boost Nigeria’s social and economic development.
In the upstream sector, oil and gas production operations would increase with an increased focus on development and exploration activities in the onshore, offshore and Ultra Deep Water operated areas. The parties also agreed to explore a potential collaboration on refined product security via technical services for the rehabilitation and enhancement of Port Harcourt refinery, while power generation and access to energy would be further enhanced by doubling the power generation capacity in Okpai IPP through the fast track development of its Phase II, making it one of the largest combined cycle power plants in Africa.
The MoU also set the basis for the assessment of the electricity national grid reliability alongside efficient renewable energy projects, to secure energy accessibility in Nigeria’s most remote areas.