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Rising investment in tank farms killing FG’s pipelines revival, Lagos

For sustainability, worldwide, petroleum products are moved in pipelines. The current but poorly maintained petroleum pipeline networks were constructed about 30 years ago when President Muhammadu Buhari was Military head of State.

Nevertheless, due to poor maintenance culture which also kept the refineries in their current bad shapes, the pipelines infrastructure are now almost out of use.

Observers also traced the collapse of the petroleum pipelines to rising vandalism along the routes of the facilities mainly from Niger Delta to other parts of the country.

However, an issue of worry is the speed and manner with which investors are developing tank farms along Nigerian coastal states of Lagos, Ogun, Rivers and others are beginning to elicit reactions on the chances of Nigeria reverting to moving products in the pipelines.

Only in Lagos, over 30 tank farms have been built in the last few years and the development is creating unbearable havocs on the available highways and even streets as petroleum tankers have taken over many roads including flyovers all in the name of waiting for supplies to distribute upcountry.

Having been filled up, indications have emerged that the tireless investors are shifting to Ogun coastlines with new tank farms rather than working with the government to see how the pipelines can be revived so that Nigerian highways can be free from tankers.

Only recently, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was on Ogun State to inaugurate a 300 million litres capacity tank farm built by Petrolex Oil and Gas in Ibefun, at Odogbolu Local Government Area of Ogun State.

The ultra-modern oil city is being built by Segun Adebutu, son of a business mogul, Sir Kessington Adebutu.

Osinbajo said Petrolex’s tank farm would ease traffic at tank farms in Apapa, improve retail distribution in Nigeria, increase domestic storage of petroleum products and create jobs for the teeming Nigerian youths.

He congratulated Petrolex for bringing to reality the vision of an integrated petroleum complex in Ogun State, describing the project as “an impressive testament to the power of vision and dedication.”

According to him, “From the point of view of government’s downstream objectives in the petroleum sector, this investment is of special significance; it ticks the boxes of strengthening our distribution infrastructure for petroleum products and meeting the target of the end of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019 for reducing importation of petroleum products to less than 20 per cent.

“We are delighted that this facility with a capacity to store 300 million litres of petroleum products, the largest of its kind in the country, and I’m told, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, and conveniently holding 4,000 trucks at a time and jetty capable of berthing about 30 million metric tonnes of cargo.”

Besides,  he hinted that “This facility is still a work-in-progress; the tank farm that we are inaugurating today represents only the first phase of a much bigger project, the mega oil city, which will include a 250,000 barrels per day refinery”.

“Significant local investment such as this sends the strongest possible signal to foreign investors that not only is the government saying that Nigeria is the investment destination in Africa but local smart money such as Petrolex is also saying the same thing.”

In his remarks, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, described the tank farm as a “perfect distribution centre, processing hub and a testimonial pipeline facility.”

Kachikwu added that the facility “portends great development of pipeline infrastructure and refinery in Nigeria.”

The minister said with the support and commitment of Petrolex and other local investors, delivery of local refining capability in 2019 “ is non-negotiable.”

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation, Maikanti Baru, said the new tank farm would complement the agency’s mandate to ensure availability of petroleum products to Nigerians, but was silent on how to revive the moribund pipelines.