Business Hilights
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Nigerians want NNPC’s instant answers to scarcity of products, not 2018 targets

Across session of Nigerians have described all the recent forecasts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that it plans to increase the capacity utilisation of its refineries to 60 per cent this year, and to 80 percent by the end of 2018 as diversionary, arguing that it means the agency has no remedy to the current scarcity of major products including fuel and kerosene.

Nigeria has five refineries in two in Port Harcourt, Warri, Kaduna and Ogbelle, with combined capacity of 446,000 barrels daily. Four these refineries (445,000bpd combined capacity) are operated by NNPC subsidiaries, while the Ogbelle, a 1,000-barrel capacity private diesel topping refinery in Rivers State is run by the Niger Delta Petroleum Resources NDPR).

However, in the last decades, none of the refining plants had worked to installed capacity, thus casting doubts on the managerial capabilities of top officials and issues of corruption.

To many Nigerians, this is no more time when the government or its agencies will keep shifting the goal posts of service delivery deadlines.

Currently, the prices of fuel and kerosene have gone almost beyond the reach of many Nigerians even though government has not made any announcement of official increment but virtually many pumps in more than 29 states have hiked their fuel prices.

Nigerians say it is a monumental shame if since 2010, data from industry Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), indicate that all the refineries combined had worked at an average of 20 percent.

Moreover, checks by Business Hilights show that the cost of the possible repairs or upgrade that will lead to the rise in output was not captured in the 2017 budget, thus casting more doubt on how the NNPC target shall be met.

But the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said in a statement, that the Corporation is keen on ending products importation in a few years, and that concrete plans are on ground to achieve this.

According to him, “it is the procedure or methodology that we are changing a little bit, we are focusing on the process licensors to come and audit our processes and they have already started auditing most of our process units in the various refineries.

“We hope if we do all these systematically, we should be able to get about 60 per cent level of capacity utilisation by the end of this year or at worst by the first quarter of 2018 and get to 80 per cent by the end of 2018 so that we could locally be able to supply half of our Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) requirements.

“Also, with other efforts in terms of other refineries coming in place, we should be able to quit importation in a few years,” the GMD said.

The pronouncement comes as the country recorded a total of 2,978 vandalised pipeline points between November 2015 and October 2016, prompting the Corporation to propose the establishment of a Security Advisory Council.