Awka — History was yesterday made in the country as the president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo performed the foundation laying ceremony of Nigeria's first Private refinery, Orient Petroleum Refinery (OPR) at Nsugbe-Umuleri, Anambra East Council Area of Anambra State.
The parent company Orient Petroleum Resource ltd, (OPRL) was licensed in June, 2002, by the Federal Government to construct a Private refinery with a 55,000 b/d, while at the same time granting the company two petroleum prospecting license blocks to provide a dependable source of crude oil feed stock to Orient Refinery as a way of providing long term security for the huge investment in the refinery.
With the successful completion of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), the Federal Ministry of Environment presented an EIA certificate to OPRL to proceed with the construction of its refinery.
But while flagging - off the refinery project located on the bank of Anambra River, in Anambra State, the president represented by the President, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Edmund Daukoru said the establishment of refineries in the country will contribute towards improved quality of life while injecting massive capital inflow into the system and boost the nation's economy.
He said the establishment of private refineries in the country will stimulate the growth of ancillary industries and expand as it were the opportunity for employment and incubation of technical and business skills.
"For the entire Nigerian people, the establishment of private refineries like the one which foundation laying ceremony is being performed today (yesterday) has the capacity to inject massive private capital into the system, thus spur the nation's economic activities. More importantly, however, is the fact that Nigeria's future local consumption could be met through refined products from refineries located within our shores.
"These local refineries would also increase our earnings from oil as more revenues are found accruable from sale of finished products which are supposed to hasten sale of our crude oil in the international market", he said.
Government, the president said hoped that by attaining domestic self sufficiency in product supply would help Nigeria become the hub of petroleum products supply and distribution in the west coast of Africa, even as he urged the 28 host communities, within the location area to support the venture.
President Obasanjo assured that his administration will continue to formulate policies, that would consolidate the participation of Nigerians in the nation's oil and gas industry and said the Federal government deregulated the petroleum sector to break the monopoly enjoyed by the NNPC, while promoting private sector participation in the up and down stream sectors of the oil industry. This, he said gave birth to Orient Petroleum Resources Company.
Government, the president said has set up a committee for the operation of the open access common carrier which is expected to open up the PPMC and NNPC logistic viabilities and provide level playing ground of the down stream sector as part of the deregulation process.
He said that the high price of crude oil in the international market has posed enormous challenges in the attainment of full deregulation, nothing however that the implication would be to expose "our people to full impact of international parity in pricing of petroleum products".
The chairman, Board of Directrors of Orient Petroleum Resource, ltd, and former secretary of the Common Wealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku said the company was gratified to be the first privately owned one to embark on the practical step of constructing a refinery.
He said that the project would bring significant benefits to the 28 communities within the Anambra River basin, stresing that the company management had been holding regular dialogue with representatives of the youth,women, town union executives, presidents- General and Tradition rulers of the communities.
About 2,000 jobs, he said were envigaged to be created during the construction work of the first phase of the project estimated to cost N53.7billion (about $413 million) and a capacity of 45,000 bld. He said that about 60% of the jobs would be engaged in refinery, exploration and production operation related opportunities while about 5,000 inderect jobs would be created in the area of support services. He also said that the company would give rise to the creation of enterprenureship capacities while social benefits like roads, treated water, electricity and housing would readily accrue to the host communities, emphasing that the company has identified five possible locations within the Anambra River basin for the refineries. He urged the minister of state for petroleum resources, Dr. Edmund Daukoru to seek ways of bringing to an end the inexplicable paradox where Nigeria, though a major exporter of oil embarks on the importaion of over 70% its energy needs.