Abuja – Sen. Ita Enang, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, says Nigeria should
Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari, had announced that the Federal Government would stop payment of subsidy due to the impact of COVID-19 on the global oil market.
“It is time for Nigeria to abandon the subsidy fully, increase and engage with these modular refineries.
“I want to say that subsidy in the petroleum product is not sustainable in any economy and it is worse now, because you subsidise imported refined petroleum products from the earnings you get from the crude oil sales.
“If the price of crude oil is very low, then you have very less income for which you can do other things, therefore, if you want to subside products, you have to think of many things,’’ he said.
According to him, Nigeria needs to focus on how to start local refining of products to enhance economic development.
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He said that the situation of government subsiding products was no more sustainable with the current development in the global oil market.
“Nigeria has the best chance now to grow its own industry, its own petroleum refining industry, there has never been a better time,’’ he added.
The Presidential aide noted that stakeholders in the industry had agreed to the need to support the Artisanal (illegal) refiners in the country to boost local refining in country,
He noted that his office had met with the major players in the industry and strategised to ensure that artisanal refineries were effectively captured to contribute to the growth of the sector.
“My office has related very seriously with stakeholders and we have had about four meetings before we arrived at a communiqué at the fifth meeting where we met with the Association of Artisanal Refiners, what we prefer to call illegal refineries.
“In our meeting with them, they said they have the capacity to produce Diesel, Petrol, Kerosene, the other materials for Bitumen, the other oils which are bye-products of refined petroleum products or crude production of the value chain,’’ he said.
He said that over the years, the artisanal refiners had not been given any opportunity to make impact, adding that it had led to continuous crude theft and destruction of the environment.
Enang said that the artisanal refiners had alleged that some of the petroleum products some companies claimed were imported were bought from them.
“They told me that most of the time we say that we are importing some of these refined petroleum products that it is not correct, that it is the illegal or artisanal refineries that produce this petrol and diesel.
“They take it in small quantities by batches and take it to the high sea to fill the ship or vessel which has a license to bring in this refined petroleum products,’’ he noted.
Enang noted that the development had made it imperative for government to go back and empower these artisanal refinery owners to reduce crude oil theft and revenue loss.
He noted that stakeholders had agreed to support these group but urged them to form cooperative groups to enable government to legalise their operations.
The Presidential aide named some of the stakeholders supporting the move to include the NNPC, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), among others.
He noted that