Rising import bill: Oil workers ask FG to emergency on refineries

Following the rising bill incurred on importation of petroleum products to meet domestic demand, senior Nigerian oil workers have called on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on the nation’s refineries to find lasting solution.

The workers, under the umbrella body of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), in a communique issued at the end of its national executive council meeting in Warri, Delta state, at the weekend, described as worrisome and embarrassing that Nigeria remains the only OPEC member country importing fuel and the largest importer in the world.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer with output around 2.1 million barrels per day and oil reserves estimated at 37 billion barrels.

But the country imports around 1 million metric tonnes of petrol per month as the existing four refineries, owned and managed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), have not been operating up to a quarter of their combined nameplate capacity of 445,000 barrels a day.

“The [PENGASSAN] NEC-in-Session urges the Federal Government and NNPC to expedite the process of rehabilitating the refineries through the investors and financiers,” the union stated.

“The NEC-in-Session also notes the positive impact of the planned modular and other private refineries in the industry and the economy as a whole. The NEC-in-Session appeals to the Federal Government to encourage Private Sector Participation in this regard.”

The oil workers’ union said it condemned the recent directive by of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the state of the nation’s four refineries to halt the process of their proposed turn-around maintenance (TAM) by the Government/NNPC.

“The House Committee should provide an immediate alternative to the good proposal; otherwise the process should be allowed to continue in the best interest of the country,” PENGASSAN demanded.

SOURCE: The Cable