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A close surveillance on the official utterances of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on its plans for the three ageing refineries since this has shown policy summersaults for three times.
First was when the federal government planned to sale off the national assets along with the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) which was met with stiff opposition by Nigerians.
The second was when the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. Ibe Kachukwu met with investors of ENI group in Italy and narrowly completed a Repair-Operate-Own-Transfer (ROOT) deal.
The matter still ended up in dusts as Nigerians tactically saw the move as a strategic ploy to still rob off the national asset from ordinary Nigerians. The deal died a momentary death.
Only Wednesday afternoon, in Abuja, the Group Managing Director of the same Cooperation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, for the third ambush on the assets, said on the sidelines of the inaugural Nigerian Pipeline Security Conference and Exhibition, that government is to shut down all three refineries for comprehensive repairs.
The exhibition was put together by the Pipeline Association of Nigeria (PLAN).
This time, Baru changed the narrative to aver that “the comprehensive rehabilitation is aimed at bringing the refineries in Warri, Kaduna and Port Harcourt back to their nameplate production capacities”.
Continuing, he said “As you know, it has been the perception of the public that the repairs of the refineries are never done thoroughly; so this time, our intention is to shut down the refineries when we are ready”.
“We will then fully bring them back to what they should be as new refineries.
“Obviously, it is going to be a complex procedure; and as such, we have to breakdown the various work packages to ensure that all the various workforce have sufficient focus,’’ Baru said.
NNPC chief also revealed that the refineries would return as new facilities after the overhaul, noting that this particular move was to make assurance co ahead of Nigeria’s plan to stop the importation of petroleum products by 2019.
However, in an earlier statement from the NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, the corporation claimed that the latest twist is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s mandate to rehabilitate the three refineries.
But the statement added twist, saying more than 28 Expressions of Interest (EoIs) had been received so far by the corporation from private funding sources for the refineries’ rehabilitation project, adding it was expecting more EoIs by the end of the year.
The fear which NNPC statement failed to clear is what was driving the interest of the companies that want to fund the rehabilitation and how would the government pay them back if not veiled privatization”.
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