By ‘Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the President.
The Buhari administration is committed to promoting the establishment of privately financed modular refineries so as to increase local refining capacity, create jobs, ensure peace and stability in the Niger delta region, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
The initiative which featured prominently in recent talks between the Federal Government and the oil-producing areas, as represented by PANDEF, will also reposition the petroleum industry and ensure self-sufficiency of petroleum products, while serving as a disincentive for illegal refineries and oil pollution.
At an end-of-the-year review meeting of the Niger Delta Inter-Ministerial Committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, before the holidays, Prof. Osinbajo noted that the Federal Government, in line with its Niger Delta New Vision, is targeting measurable objectives in its efforts towards implementing development projects in the region.
The December 22 meeting received a report that 38 licensed privately financed greenfield and mini-modular refineries investors have so far indicated interests in the establishment of refineries in the region, and at least ten (10) of the licensed refineries investors are at an advanced stage of development.
The advanced stage of development means that these projects have passed the Licence to Establish (LTE) stage, while some have the Authority to Construct (ATC) licence or close to having it because they have met some critical requirements in the Licensed stage.
There are three stages in the process of refinery establishment; Licence to Establish (LTE), Authority to Construct (ATC) and Licence to Operate (LTO).
So far, 10 modular refineries are located in five out of the nine states in the Niger Delta region; namely Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Imo states.
Also, two out of these 10 – Amakpe Refinery meant to be located in Akwa Ibom, and OPAC Refinery to be based in Delta State – have their mini-refineries modules already fabricated, assembled and containerized overseas, ready for shipment to Nigeria for installation. The total proposed refining capacities of the 10 licensed refineries stands at 300,000 barrels.
Noting the issue of funding as a major challenge to most of the investors, and the primary reason holding further progress of the refinery projects, the Vice President directed that the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources keep providing the necessary support and creating the enabling environment for positive investments in modular refineries by engaging key government agencies.
The agencies include the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board, NCDMB, and financial institutions, including the International Finance Corporation, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, Bank of Industry, amongst others.
The Vice President stressed the importance of ensuring that the oil communities have a stake in the modular refineries and directed that an appropriate model be developed to achieve that.
Other issues addressed at the end of the year meeting include the Maritime University, Ogoni Clean-up, and other related issues such as increasing support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the region.
On the Maritime University take-off, the Vice President noted that further support would be given by the Federal Government to ensure the training of staff to give the best to the incoming students of the institution.
On the Ogoni clean-up, the Project Coordinator for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil briefed the meeting that progress has been made in several areas of the clean-up.
He listed the evaluation of existing water facilities in the four local government areas in Ogoni land in the process of providing clean drinking water, demonstration of remediation technologies at sites in some of the impacted communities; hiring of and the technical training of Ogoni scientists. The Coordinator added that health impact assessment would be conducted in some communities in the coming weeks.
At the meeting were the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Unguru Usani; Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jubril.
Others include the Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside; Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Corporation, Mr. Nsima Ekere; and the Special Adviser to the President on the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig-General Paul Boroh (rtd).