As the federal government relaxes conditions for construction of refineries in the country, the president of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Mr Babatunde Ogun, has said that the association will bid for a refinery licence in the country.
Ogun told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) last week that the union would collaborate with other unions like NUPENG, Trade Union Congress, and other interest groups to achieve the target.
According to him, the decision was borne out of the recent announcement by the Federal Government that it had removed the mandatory $1 million deposit placed on investors wishing to establish private refineries in the country.
NAN recalls that last year the union had expressed interest in one of the nation’s refineries, but its effort was scuttled when the Federal Government stopped the sale of the refineries. Ogun said the current effort of government had automatically paved the way for the unions to own a refinery with a view to solving the nation’s perennial shortage of petroleum products.
He said PENGASSAN, in collaboration with the other unions, would raise funds for the bid through the various union members.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to back its statement with action as the nation could not afford to be perpetually locked in energy crisis. Ogun said as a follow up to the removal of the $1 million deposit for potential private refinery owners, the government should fashion out laws that would make it a crime to import petroleum products into country, even as he added that the development would arrest the spate of importation as well as assure patronage for local refiners and marketers of petroleum products.
“The country currently imports over 90 per cent of petroleum products consumed due to the abysmal performance of Nigeria’s four refineries in recent time. “But the government says with effect from November this year deregulation of downstream sector would commence in full form, thereby giving room for the removal of petroleum subsidy, which government said had not been beneficial to all,’’ he said.