Senate summons NNPC over oil refineries

Bukola Saraki, Senate President, Nigeria

The Nigerian Senate has summoned the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to examine the conditions of the nation’s four refineries.

The decision was taken following a motion urging the Senate to act in respect of incessant fuel tanker tragedies on Nigeria’s highways.

The motion was introduced by Gbenga Ashafa representing Lagos East senatorial district.

He recalled that there had been repeated fuel tankers crashes in the past weeks.

“Within the space of one week, four fuel tankers accidents that occurred in two major cities in Nigeria that claimed lives and destroying properties.

“The first incident which claimed over 70 lives at Upper Iweka Onitsha and Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos,” the lawmaker said.

Mr. Ashafa said if the refineries were functional, all the tragedies would have been avoided.

“If our refineries were functional, all the tankers in Nigeria would not have businesses coming to Lagos to lift fuel as refineries in port-Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna would have taken care of that,” he said.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the Senate will examine the situation with the refineries especially those under construction.

The NNPC had said Saturday that Nigeria’s four refineries are set to roll back to life in July.

Ohi Alegbe, the spokesperson for the NNPC told PREMIUM TIMES that the ongoing phased maintenance of the refineries was nearing completion and that the facilities would soon commence production.

“I think by July, the four refineries should begin to work,” Mr. Alegbe said.

He said the two refineries in Port Harcourt are scheduled to begin to receive crude next week while those in Warri and Port Harcourt would follow shortly after.

Mr. Alegbe said the turnaround maintenance of the refineries, which he said began in November 2014, was being undertaken by NNPC’s in-house engineers.

“We had to resort to in-house engineers after the original builders of the refineries, who were called in to do the job, kept coming up with outrageous bills,” he said.

He said parts of the problems with the Port Harcourt refineries had to do with lack of electricity to power the facility.

“We have now installed a mini power plant to solve that problem,” the NNPC spokesperson said.

The return of the refineries will however not put an end to fuel importation in the country.

Mr. Alegbe said even when the four refineries operate at full capacity, they would only be able to cumulatively refine 19 million litres of petrol per day.

Nigeria, he said, consumes 40 million litres of petrol per day.

“As you can see, that leaves us with a balance of 21 million litres per day, and we will still have to rely on importation to make up for that deficit,” Mr. Alegbe said.

Nigeria has for years depend on importation for its entire energy needs.

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