The upper chamber of Nigeria’s senate has mandated its petroleum committee to invite the ministry of petroleum and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to brief it on the status of existing refineries in the country.
It also asked the committee to ascertain the true position of things with the newly licensed modular refineries.
The decision followed a motion by Rose Oko, the Cross River PDP senator on a motion entitled, ‘Existing Petroleum Subsidy: Ensuring Self-Sufficiency in Domestic Refining of Petroleum Products’.
The motion had 42 other senators as sponsors.
Speaking on the motion at the plenary, Oko said although Nigeria was producing 1.7m barrels of crude oil per day, its moribund refineries had little refining capacity.
She lamented that the nation was importing about 90 percent of its fuel, negating much of the benefits accruing to oil producing nations from high crude prices.
She said despite the resources expended on turnaround maintenance, none of the NNPC’s four refineries currently functioned up to 50 percent of their combined capacity of 445,000 barrels per day.
She added that data from the Department of Petroleum Resources website indicated that a total of 633,000 barrels per day refining capacity had already been lost due to the expiration of licences of both conventional and modular refinery projects.
Oko, who also spoke on the fuel subsidy, said more than $160m was spent on subsidy in early 2017.
In his submission, Ifeanyi Ubah, another senator who is also a major player in the petroleum industry, asked the senate to invite other stakeholders for the parley.
He said the major oil marketers association of Nigeria, the depot and petroleum products marketers association, the independent petroleum marketers association of Nigeria and the department of petroleum resources should be part of the talks.
Ubah noted with regret that Federal Government’s policy of importing refined petroleum products while still trying to encourage local production would never encourage investors.
He said, “There is a reason many people are scared of investing in modular refinery. They are afraid that the Federal Government would continue to import fuel and that would affect their business.