The Nigerian government has disclosed that 26 firms have shown interest in the plan to overhaul the nation’s oil refineries.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, made this known at an oil conference in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Mr. Kachikwu said the 26 firms had indicated their interest in the project that will require investment of $2 billion.
He explained further that Nigeria was close to finalising the process for the overhaul of the three existing refineries, adding 450,000 bpd as part of the effort by Africa’s biggest economy to reduce its reliance on imports.
“We are almost at a threshold of finalising the process of selection,” he said, adding that it could announce its selection by January or February.
Similarly, the minister said that the Dangote Refinery with capacity to process 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil being built in Nigeria is due to come on stream by the end of 2019.
“That should be enough to meet local needs,” Mr. Kachikwu said, according to Reuters.
In 2016, the NNPC launched bidding to find partners to overhaul its ailing refineries, which hardly produce any petrol due to decades of mismanagement, a development that forces the nation to rely on imported oil products.
The government had previously said it was in talks with Chevron, Total and ENI.
On Tuesday, Mr. Kachikwu told reporters that Nigeria aimed to lift oil output in January to 1.8 million bpd from about 1.6 million to 1.7 million bpd.
He, however, noted that the nation would not breach a ceiling agreed with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
OPEC, Russia and other producers cut oil output by about 1.8 million bpd since January, with Nigeria and two other oil producers granted exemption.
“If we get to 1.8 (million), then we need to say ‘hey, close off the taps, because we need to comply,” Mr. Kachikwu said, adding that oil prices were now encouraging but OPEC had not ruled out further cuts to shore up the market.