As part of efforts aimed at addressing the lingering challenge of fuel importation and its attendant impact on Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, the Nigerian Government has renewed its commitment to boost local refining of petroleum products in the country.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri disclosed this during a courtesy visit to him by a delegation from the Crude Oil Refineries Owners Association of Nigeria (CORAN), led by its Chairman, Momoh Oyarekhua in Abuja.
In a statement issued by the Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Petroleum, Resources, Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa, in Abuja,
The minister told the delegation that the Federal Government of Nigeria would continue to partner with them in finding home-grown solutions to the various problems bedevilling their operations.
He noted, “As a government, we would continue to partner with you to find home-grown solutions to the problems. We will try whatever we can to see how we can provide a better environment for you to thrive,” he said.
The Minister further promised that the government would continue to engage with them as partners considering that the sector was critical to the economic survival of the country, adding that, once the sector was taken care of, the country would seem to have solved the perennial problem of importation of petroleum products, saying that, “We will be partners in this journey, we want this sector to move forward,” he added.
He stated that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources would engage with other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies like the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on how to access funds.
Lokpobiri implored the association to explore and leverage other alternative sources of funding available within the country like the Development Bank established by the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Industry (BOI) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) among others.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Crude Oil Refineries Owners Association of Nigeria (CORAN), Momoh Oyarekhua said that the association was established to upscale local refining of crude oil in Nigeria and to place the country on the path of local production of refined products.
He noted that if there could be self-sufficiency in oil refining in Nigeria, there might not be any reason to import refined products.
He mentioned that about 30 to 40 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings went into the importation of refined petroleum products.
The Chairman enumerated various challenges militating against the operations of CORAN such as inadequate supply of feed-stock of crude from the local producers into the refineries, multiple charges and access to funding, among others.
In finding a way out of this, he said they had in the past engaged the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) on this development who had agreed on selling crude to them, noting that, the engagement has not yielded the desired results.
He added that they had also met the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and said under the Domestic Crude Obligation which is stipulated in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and synergy with their regulations, they would interface with the crude producers in the country to know the quantity of crude produced and seek their commitment to the Domestic Crude Obligation to all local refineries.
On prospective modular refinery investors, Momoh told the Minister they were being confronted by the challenge of crude guarantee as their creditors and financiers would want to know where their crude would be coming from, he appealed to the government to support them in expanding their capacity to produce Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) locally through a refinery intervention fund.
He noted, “If we are supported, it will bring value to the country and stem the tide of importing refined products.”