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Conversion of illegal refineries to modular may worsen environmental crisis in N/Delta if…

Petroleum products refining experts have warned the federal government to be very careful in setting out the guidelines for the conversion of hundreds of illegal refineries popularly called ‘Kpor-Fire’ in the oil rich Niger Delta for the sake of associated pollution multiplier effects.

It would be recalled that the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo had given the hint after a tour of the region, saying the best option on the illegality is to see how they can be converted to create jobs and reduce militancy.

Minister of State for Petroleum Respources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, was on Osinbajo’s entourage to the Niger Delta and he took aggressive pursuit for investments in modular refining sub-sector outside the country.

Analysts say it is easy to convert illegal refineries to modular refineries with technology and get better result and minimal pollution.

Already, the minister is shopping for foreign investors even at the just concluded Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, United States of America, the minister declared incentives for investors with a promise of more support to investment opportunities in the sub-sector.

According to him, Modular refineries have guarantees of quick returns on investment, showing funding for the refineries built in modules as the next big thing in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. Kachikwu was not alone in efforts to woo investors for modular refineries investments.

Besides, several core oil states have started buying into the new modular scheme including Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta States.

Only recently, Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, told investors at the OTC the establishment of modular refineries and other oil and gas-related businesses, would end the tide of militancy and illegal refineries in the Niger Delta region.

He said: “The policy I want to appreciate the Federal Government for and, which is also why I am here, is the issue of modular refinery.

“Some of these young people are engaged in illegal refineries. We know that is not the right thing to do, but somehow, they are doing it.

Continuing, he said “We want to establish three modular refineries – one in each senatorial district, so that some of these young people who engage in illegal refineries can be brought together in an organised manner, working with our partners”.

“We have the feedstock, though we don’t control petroleum because it is in the exclusive list, we have goodwill. Bayelsa already has an oil well, which we are operating. We have struck our first oil.

“We intend to take our case to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, (NNPC) and oil producing companies, to make feedstock available for the modular refineries to take off.” His speech, however, showed that all might not, after all, be well with the investments except certain issues are addressed,” Dickson said.

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