The Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN) has expressed its readiness to collaborate with the federal government in revamping the four non-functional refineries in the country if called upon by the federal government.
The National President of the organisation, Dr Billy Gillis-Harry, told journalists in Abuja that the $1.2 billion needed to fix the facilities would not constitute a huge problem for the retailers, saying that as businessmen, if engaged PETROAN will deliver without excuses.
He added that with the contacts and reach of the members of the association who have about 100,000 retail outlets throughout the country, they can get the best engineers and experts to resuscitate the refineries.
He said: "These outlets can easily come together and be a very successful offtake company or group for every refined product in Nigeria and that's a very guaranteed way of ensuring that petroleum products are available at all times.
"The cost of fixing the refineries as we are told, runs into about $1.8 billion or thereabouts. We are businessmen.
"So, if the federal government were to engage PETROAN, we will certainly make sure that refineries are built, we will make sure we get the best value for less amount of money.
"We will get the best engineers to work, but again, we have to look at the possibility of ensuring that the in-country refining capacity of Nigeria is enhanced," he said.
He maintained that if revamping the four refineries would cost Nigeria too much, then PETROAN can come together and partner the federal government to ensure that they establish modular refineries that are able to guarantee Nigeria's domestic consumption per day.
"There are so many ways that PETROAN can ensure that the project is done successfully. As for where the money is coming from, right now we buy products from PPMC.
"If we should spend that amount of money to bring in capacity, foreign partners, financial partners, technical partners, we should be able to invest that money in terms of debt financing with the federal government supporting us," he added.
He assured that the group would get the refineries up and running, insisting that it's not rocket science if allowed.
On the current debate over the pricing of petroleum products, Gillis-Harry argued that because of some exigencies happening in the market, prices of petroleum products was bound to increase soon.
"No doubt about that because we as an association support the government to ensure that subsidy is no longer the order of the day, but a full implementation deregulation of all prices of petroleum products should be enhanced and that's what we support," he noted.
He urged the government to free the market from the current interference, explaining that full liberalisation of petrol prices was the right thing to do.
He stressed: "Let the government start the process to ensure that the deregulation conversation that started in 2020 is now put into practice and certainly government should make sure we bring in petroleum products into Nigeria."
He insisted that if the market is deregulated, then the government can put in place measures to cushion the harsh impact on Nigerians in the form of inflationary pressures.
"N200 today is about forty something cents and of course without doing much economy of scale, we should already know that petroleum products will increase.
"But what we as an association is asking is let the government work together to ensure economic dynamics to cushion the shocks so inflation does not come in and we as an association also want to wear a human face," he stated.