Story By Olabode Jegede
Analysts in the oil and gas sector are contemplating federal government aims to meet the 2023 petrol importation to the nation.
They noted that the downstream sector needed to be reformed, with full subsidy that will encourage investors to come and invest in the industry.
They added that the nation’s refineries should be adequately given correct turnaround maintenance and to start functioning optimally.
The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, had released a new date of 2023 from 2019 for the country to stop the importation of refined petroleum products.
Speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect, the Managing Consultant/CEO, RTC Advisory Services Limited, Dr. Vincent Nwani stated that the stoppage of petrol importation could still be shifted if necessary actions are not adequately taken care of.
According to Nwani, “I think the starting point of this conversation will be to know why we are importing fuel, refined petroleum while we have four refineries and we are one of the one of the notable exporters of crude oil, which is the starting point.
“It is not about when to stop or when to start. If things are put in place, you do not have to shift the stoppage of petroleum importation.
“What is important is that do we have petroleum and is it sufficient anytime we do not have, and the people making this type of comment, they are not building refinery, those available are not working.
“Everybody is banking on Dangote in which he decides to sell his own in a new market he chooses to sell it. So, anybody waiting for Dangote as a benchmark is making a mistake because He is a private man that will make his own profits where he thinks there will be profit.
“So, I think it is very wrong for any government agency to be talking about giving us the date when to start or when to stop. That date is just a number and I do not think it is necessary at all.
“What is important is that whenever a country has no fuel, they will import and we do not have fuel. Moreover, if things continue the way it is moving now, even 2025, we will still be importing because we need it. Until we reform the downstream petroleum, full subsidy where other people will be interested to come and invest, we will continue to import fuel.”
Also, another analyst in oil and gas sector who claimed anonymous expressed concern over the state of the country refineries, adding that proper maintenance needed to be put in place.
According to him, “Well, I do not know if the refineries are given correct turnaround maintenance. If the maintenance is done properly and the refineries start functioning optimally and for what they have done now which is the border closure really gave us an indication that most of the fuel we say we consume are taken outside the country.
“The statistics we have in the represent the actual consumption as a country. So, if other things are put in place, not only the refineries, the borders are put in place, I think our fuel consumption will come to a reasonable volume, quantity that the refineries can really give us.
“2023 is still a thing we cannot say what it will look like, and until we get there, we will know whether it is attainable.”
In February 2017, NNPC, through the immediate past Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had disclosed that Nigeria would stop importing refined petroleum products by 2019.
According to Kachikwu, “By 2019, we should be able to exit completely the importation of petroleum products in this country.”
However, the initial date announced seems unrealistic as the NNPC GMD stated on Friday while releasing a new date of 2023.
“For a country that has been producing oil for over 50 years, it is really a difficulty to explain why we are still importing petroleum products.
“We have a clear mandate of Mr. President to stop this and we believe this can be done between now and 2023. It is not a political deadline; it is a realistic technical deadline that we can deliver,” Kyari stated.
He also stressed that the delivery of functional refineries and support partners on projects that would make petrol available across the country within the projected time is important to the Buhari’s administration, adding that the plan is to deliver 20 million litres of petrol when completed.
According to Kyari, “First, we will deliver on our refineries to make them work and significant work has gone into that and we believe that we can deliver on this.
“Secondly, we will support our partners to deliver on their projects that will make gasoline (petrol) and other products available, which are essentially the many other refinery project interventions that are going on that we know and we support all of them.”