The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has lamented the federal government’s attitude to the building of new refineries, describing as flimsy any excuses given on funding.
The umbrella body for oil workers in the country stated that the federal government could have built new refineries if it wanted to as Nigeria’s crude output for 16 days can fund the building of a new refinery.
“To build a refinery today is about US$4 billion (N640 billion). We produce not less than 2.4 million barrel of crude oil on a daily basis and we sell at $108, which is the price all over the world. Going by that calculation, we are making about N41.2 billion daily,” Mr. Folorunsho Ogini, Chairman, PENGASSAN, Lagos Zone told Vanguard in an interview.
Ogini also decried the in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, a bill he noted would address some of the challenges Nigeria’s oil and gas sector faces.
“The question is; why is the PIB not signed into law? Who is afraid of the PIB? These people know quite well that if PIB is signed into law, all these problems confronting the nation’s oil and gas sector have been addressed by the bill.
“These refineries we are talking about, they were built pre-1989 and those who built the refineries recently declared that the technologies used in those refineries had been phased out. What is stopping us from building more refineries?
“The next question you will ask is, where is this money going? When you look at our roads, it is nothing to write home about. In the issue of Education, you are living witnesses to when lecturers went on strike for over five months. Electricity; we do not have and infrastructure generally, in every ramification, you cannot equate us with ordinary Ghana.
“The question that is begging for an answer is, if you are making over N41 billion daily, why is poverty still ravaging the country? We have the capacity to produce more than 2.4 million barrels per day, but because of the ceiling by the Organisation of Petroleum Export Countries, OPEC, which we are a member,” said Ogini.
“Singapore is a country that does not have crude oil, they import, yet they have about 62 refineries. They buy the crude, refine and make huge profit. Why is that Nigeria, that has the crude and the manpower is wasting because we cannot build refineries.”
The PIB if passed, according to Ogini will also address the problems confronting the nation’s refineries and how to make the refineries work, with a Turn Around Maintenance, TAM already scheduled.
The contents of the PIB which portrays a great future for the country’s oil and gas sector informed PENGASSAN’s decision to kick against the sale of the refineries, according to Ogini.
“What many people do not know is that, the PIB has already taken into consideration all that is needed for our refineries to work and be a success story. Do you know what, we discovered that government wanted to rush the sale of the refineries because all the spare parts for the TAM are already in the ship coming to Nigeria and will arrive at any moment?
“That was why some people were pressuring government to sell the refineries as scraps so that when the spare parts come, they would take the spare parts to do the TAM and tell Nigerians that they have done the magic and that the refineries are now working.
“We have been talking about TAM for more than 10 years. Late General Sani Abacha awarded the contract twice for the TAM, but nobody did anything in spite the fact that the contract sum was paid. Till today, government has not apprehended anybody.
“We insisted that no, you cannot sell the refineries, you must wait for the spare parts to come, do the TAM and let us see what would happen next. Because they are people that want to rip off the nation from the sale, they were pressuring the government,” the Lagos PENGASSAN chairman said.