President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, in Abuja directed the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to work more closely with the indigenous oil producers to boost domestic refining capacities.
Buhari said this at a meeting with members of the Independent Petroleum Producers Association (IPPA) at the Presidential Villa.
Led by its spokesperson and Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Oil, Mr. Austin Avuru, the association, which represents about 20 Nigerian companies operating mainly on onshore fields, intimated President Buhari of its resolve to build private refineries and increase local production to 1.2 million barrels per day by year 2020.
President Buhari commended the determination of the group to increase the participation of Nigerians in the country’s oil industry and pledged his administration’s support and assistance to the project.
“We have the manpower for a more effective participation in our oil industry. We will give you all possible encouragement. You certainly won’t be ignored under my leadership,” he said.
The president also assured the oil producers that the present administration will take appropriate actions to maintain and enhance security in their areas of operation. He noted that better security will help to lower production costs, which, he said, had become unnecessarily high in the country.
In a chat with State House correspondents after their meeting with President Buhari, Mr Avuru stated that the group is currently responsible for over 200,000 barrels of oil production and over 900 million cubic meters of gas production per day.
“It was one of the points we raised with the president. We think that by 2020 domestic refining capacity should not be less than one million barrels of oil per day in domestic refining. We actually put 1.2 million barrels domestic refining capacity per day and that falls on our doorstep as indigenous operators.
“It would be achieved. Some constructions are already ongoing by indigenous companies and between some others who are coming in with smaller sized refineries and in partnership with NNPC. We are confident that by 2020 we will deliver 1.2 million domestic refining capacity.
“That is 10 per cent today. Just in the past five years, up from near zero, and we anticipate that in the next five years by 2020 we will account for 30 per cent production of about three million barrels per day,” Avuru said.