NUPENG kicks over govt’s plan to hand over refineries to private investors

The disclosure by government that against all odds new investors will take over the management of Nigerian refineries, by September 2017, has started generating uneasy calm in the sector.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, at the end of the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, on Thursday revealed that already government had received investment proposals from reputable companies on how to revamp the nation’s refineries.

“The arrangement is such that they (the new investors) are expected to repair, revamp and maintain the refineries according to the terms and conditions of the contract that they have accepted to work under.

“All consultations towards achieving this have been done with all relevant agencies and other stakeholders”, Kachikwu told newsmen.

According to him, the need to achieve government targets of reducing importation of finished petroleum products into Nigeria in 2018 by 80 per cent was the driving force behind the plans to have the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Warri Refining and Petrochemicals Company (WRPC) and Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Company (KRPC) handed over to the private sector.

But both management and staff of the refineries were said to have some issues on what they called inconsistency of government policy on the downstream sub-sector of oil and gas as it affects refinery ownership and management.

The Chairman, NUPENG, Warri Refinery Chapter, Austin Prepibo, said the idea of selling the refineries runs opposite to the recent approval for major turnaround maintenance of the facilities, billed to be absorbed by the 2017 budget.

He said : “It is the same Minister, who while addressing the workers in 2016 assured us that our jobs are intact, it is the same with his being quoted as saying that the refineries will be taken over by private hands.

“As a union, we have offered several advice on how new investors could come into the system by building new refineries, but those given the licence were policians, who fronted for their supporters”.

But Managing Director, KRPC, Saidu Mohammed, told newsmen recently that the plan to have the diesel refining section of the refinery go into full capacity utilisation, before the end of 2017 is still in top gear.

He denied having any indication that the refinery would be taken over by private investors.

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