FG Committed To Boosting Local Refining Of Petroleum Products-Minister

By Miriam Humbe

The Federal Government has renewed its commitment to boost local refining of petroleum products in the country.

Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa (Mrs.) made this known in a statement signed on Wednesday.

The statement said that Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri said 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 on Wednesday in Abuja.

Humsimedia gathered that this was part of efforts aimed at addressing the lingering challenge of fuel importation and its attendant impact on the country’s foreign exchange earnings,

The Minister told the delegation that the Federal Government would continue to partner with them in finding home-grown solutions to the various problems bedeviling their operations.

The Minister said: “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 promised that government would continue to engage with them as partners considering that the sector was critical to the economic survival of the country.

The Minister said that once the sector was taken care of, the country would seem to have solved the perennial problem of importation of petroleum products.

He said: “We will be partners in this journey, we want this sector to move forward”.

He assured 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 told the association to explore and leverage on 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.

The Chairman of CORAN, Mr. 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 said that if there could be self-sufficiency in oil refining in Nigeria, there might not be any reason to import refined products.

He said that about 30 to 40 percent 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.

These included 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, but the engagement had not yielded the desired results.

He said that they had also met the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) who said under the Domestic Crude Obligation which is stipulated in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and in synergy with their own 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 refineries 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 said: “If we are supported, it will bring value to the country and stem the tide of importing refined products”.

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