The Federal Government, yesterday, backpedalled on its modular refineries initiative, declaring that it would no longer allow the proliferation of such refineries across the Niger Delta.
The Federal Government had a few weeks ago, stated that it would encourage the setting up of modular crude oil refineries in oil-producing communities across the Niger Delta, while also planning to legalise illegal crude oil refiners and inculcate them into the modular refineries initiative.
Speaking in Abuja, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed that having small modular refineries scattered across the length and breadth of the Niger Delta would heighten environmental degradation, worsen gas flare and increase the problems of the region.
Kachikwu was speaking at the presentation of the report of the New Nigerian Oil and Gas Sector Governance Policy Consultation Workshop held in Aberdeen, Scotland, by Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, Europe, United Kingdom and North Aberdeen.
He was represented by his Senior Technical Adviser on Fiscals, Mr. Timothy Okon.
Kachikwu disclosed that government was considering a situation where modular refineries would be located only in areas where its products would be easily evacuated and where getting feedstock to them would not be cumbersome.
He said the Federal Government is commissioning a broad study that would lead to the development of an intelligent plan for the construction of modular refineries in the region.
He said, "It is important to clear a misconception, especially as it has to do with modular refineries." Setting up smaller modular refineries in so many places in the Niger Delta would worsen gas flares in the region and also bring about environmental challenges.
"It is critical to develop an integrated approach and plan to modular refineries construction in the Niger Delta, ensure that they are properly optimized and are not scattered everywhere. If the refineries are scattered everywhere they would not provide significant economic benefits to the country."