Port Harcourt — The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has called on people from oil producing states to persevere over the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari, to sign into law the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
He said the delay did not mean the president did not want the bill to see the light of the day but that he was only being careful to ensure that areas of concerns were addressed to make the law work.
Kachikwu spoke yesterday at Ibigwe, Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State at the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the first modular refinery in the state being built by Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemical Company Limited.
This came as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said it would also roll out two modular refineries in two years to boost local refining of crude in the country.
While calling on Nigerians not to lose hope on the PIB, Kachikwu called on the National Assembly to continue to work on the bill to make it "comfortable" for the president to assent to.
His words: "The president's disposition is not that the PIB will not see the light of the day. That is not true. His position is that there are concerns that it works; that we need to make it comfortable.
"We therefore need to persevere and encourage the National Assembly to continue to work on it to make it comfortable for the 'Big Man' to sign."
He also said it would be a shame if by the end of 2019 Nigeria would still be gallivanting round the world importing petroleum products.
He said the federal government would revamp the existing four major refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna before the end of 2019 to stem the importation of petroleum products.
"The federal government is interested in revamping the existing four refineries in the country in 2019 not because of elections but because it will be a shame if by the end of 2019 we are still hopping around the globe searching for where to import petroleum products. It costs us a lot of money and vital resources that can be applied to other sectors of the economy," he said.
While commending Waltersmith for embarking on the project, Kachikwu said government's policy was to encourage communities in the Niger Delta to come together to establish small refineries to check illegal activities of youths in the area.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has reiterated its determination to establish two condensate refineries in the country within two years.
Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony of Waltersmith's 5,000 barrel per day modular refinery, the Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the refineries would be located in Imo and Delta States.
He said it was the desire of the corporation to encourage the building of modular refineries especially in the oil producing areas of the country to supplement the production of the major refineries.
"That is why we will support Waltersmith not only for the initial 5,000bpd but for the expansion to 30,000bpd and the power plant," he said.
The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr. Simbi Wabote, also said the board has a 30 per cent equity in the refinery as a way to encourage local participation in the industry.
He encouraged other local investors in the industry to take advantage of the funds provided by the NCDMB to replicate the efforts of Waltersmith in the industry.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited, Abdulrazaq Isa, earlier in his welcome address said the company would in 18 months complete the building of the 5,000 bpd capacity refinery and would ultimately expand it to 30,000 bpd.
His words: "The 5,000 bopd refinery was conceptualised in 2011 to mitigate the frequent outage of the third-party export Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) and to optimise the full value of our produced crude through in-country refining and providing the petrels products for the domestic market.
"Waltersmith would be in a position to contribute about 271 million litres of refined products (diesel, kerosene, HPFO and naphta) annually to the Nigerian economy, serve as an import substitution for meeting domestic demand for foreign exchange from the country's treasury to import these products.
"The 5,000bopd refinery which we are breaking ground today is the first phase of a much larger development. Ultimately, we plan to increase the capacity to 30,000bopd to process additional products including petrol (PMS) and jet fuel. We have already executed an MoU with PCC of China towards the installation of the additional capacity within 3 years, after startup of the 5,000bopd modular refinery in December 2020."
He commended the federal government and NNPC for encouraging and promoting indigenous participation in the entire value chain of the oil and gas industry.