By: Joy Odor/Abuja
Senate has directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC to brief it on the status of existing refineries including the status of newly licensed modular refineries in the country.
The upper legislative chamber also urged it’s Committee on Petroleum (Downstream and Upstream) Resources, when constituted to report back on the status of the refineries in eight weeks time.
These resolutions followed a motion, “Existing Petroleum Subsidy: Ensuring Self -Sufficiency in Domestic Refining of Petroleum Products”, by Senator Rose Oko (PDP Cross River) and 42 others during plenary.
Presenting the motion, Senator Oko said although Nigeria produces 1.7million barrels of crude oil per day, its moribund refineries had very little refining capacity.
She said the nation imports roughly 90 per cent of its fuel, negating much of the benefits accruing to oil producing nations from high crude prices.
The lawmaker said despite the resources expended on turn around maintenance, none of the NNPC’s four refineries currently functions up to 50,per cent of their combined capacity of 445,000 barrels per day.
She said the objectives of modular refineries was to overcome the huge capital requirement that impedes establishment and maintenance of large scale refineries .
This, she said would ensure self sufficiency in the production and supply of petroleum products.
Senator Oko said data from the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR website had indicated that a total of 633,000 barrels per day refining capacity had already been lost due to the expiration of licenses of both conventional and modular refinery projects.
The lawmaker, who also spoke on the fuel subsidy said more than 160 million dollars was spent on subsidy in early 2017.
She said Nigeria had introduced petroleum subsidy in the 1980s as a temple art measure to strengthen local refining industry and improve product affordability and domestic consumption.
She, however, said successive administrations had failed to make Nigeria self-sufficient in domestic production.
The lawmaker said despite the dire need to exit petroleum importation and subsidy, there was neither a comprehensive plan to ensue its actualisation.
She said there was no form of technical and financial aid for refinery license holders to ensure the refineries become operational.
Some senators in their contributions, said there was an urgent need to ensure the optimal performance of the refineries.
They also called for grants to support the actualisation of the 43 modular refineries in the country.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan said the motion was designed to ensure that the 43 licensed modular refineries became operational.