•Hopes to cut importation by 40 percent
Government said last week that repair works on two of its refineries in Kaduna and Warri have been completed and that they would be put work by December, 2009.
Fielding questions form reporters in Abuja last week, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia when fully operational, the two refineries will ensure that importation of refined petroleum products reduces by 40 per cent.
He however cautioned Nigerians not to jubiliate as the ability of the refineries to resume oil production still depends on the conclusion of repairs to damaged oil pipelines, which is expected to transport crude oil to the refineries.
“Kaduna and Warri have been rehabilitated and we are just trying to get crude to them. The pipelines are still bad and once the pipelines are repaired, and we are told that by the middle of December, the work would have been through, so crude will now go to Warri and Kaduna,” the minister said, “Once the refineries are working, we will reduce our importation by about 40 per cent”, he assured.
The minister however said that government was not in the position to dabble into building of new refineries saying that for any private investor t put his money in that kind of venture, he must be sure of return on the investments
“The government can’t afford it and no private investor would want to invest when he is not sure of getting returns on his investment. That is why we are pushing for deregulation and as soon as we deregulate the market, you will see new refineries and in fact you will see increased capacity. “Just like the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), you will see people who will build small refineries, say for 5,000 barrels to serve their community and so on, and there will be others who will build 500,000, one million, five million refinery capacity. Why, because they will dedicate part of it to local consumption and they will export the rest to make their money”, he explained.
Commenting on the recent queues at filling stations in parts of the country, the minister blamed oil marketers. “These people think there would be imminent hike in price so they hoard the product. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has brought the fuel and people are keeping it in their backyard, it means there is no fuel in the stations. We have supplied enough to the market and some people are hoarding it so that they can make extra money”.