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No concession of Port Harcourt refinery, Kachikwu says

The Senate and the federal government have resolved to revamp the Port Harcourt Refinery as against rumoured plans to concession the facility.

The Chairman, Senate’s Ad Hoc Committee on Planned Concession of the Refinery, Abubakar Kyari, made this known at a public hearing on the issue in Abuja on Thursday.

There had been reports that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources planned to concession the refinery to AGIP/ENI and Oando Plc.

Consequently, the Senate in May set up the seven-member ad-hoc committee to probe the issue, especially with the allegation that $15 billion was involved in the concession process.

At the hearing, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, debunked the claims, saying there was no such plan.

Mr. Kyari had during the hearing told Mr. Kachikwu that there was a media publication credited to him that “26 investors had indicated interest in the concession’’.

But, the minister said “as the driver of the policy of the petroleum industry, there has not been any approval from anybody or President Muhammadu Buhari to concession the refinery.

“I am worried that after about 50 years of oil production in this country, when I assumed office, NNPC was producing below 10 per cent.

“We have made it up to 30 per cent performance and this is still where we are today.

“The issue for the turn-around maintenance was that government was not going to put more money into the process of maintenance but we were going to seek private funding to achieve that objective.”

He stated that his position was that there was no concession.

“I have not given any policy to NNPC or directive for them to concession or to sell. I have conveyed the President’s approval for them to get financing and repair the refinery and bring it to template.

“That is the policy directive; that is what they are working on,” he said.

He added that his work was a policy work and that he was not the one running the refineries, explaining that the idea was for Nigerians to maintain the refineries “and that must be uppermost”.

In his submission, Group Chief Executive of Oando Plc, Wale Tinubu, said that there was “no concession, no privatisation and no sale of any assets.

“All that is happening is that responsible corporate bodies, responsible individuals and government were trying to find a solution to the perennial disgrace of exporting our crude and importing petroleum products.

“There are only three countries in the world that import petroleum products – Iran, Iraq and Nigeria.

“Nigeria exports copious amount of crude and still import petroleum products. This is a national disgrace that we need to find solutions to as quickly as possible,” Mr. Tinubu said.

He, however, urged all stakeholders to collaborate effectively to find solutions through private channels in fixing the existing refineries in the country.

In his remarks, chairman of the committee, said “after all deliberations, we have achieved a lot.

“Henceforth, all processes whether its revamping or concession, will be done in accordance with the extant laws and in accordance with due process and it will be transparent.

“It will be in an accountable manner, in line with this present administration’s change agenda.

“We are asking the executive to follow those laws and the policies and make it transparent and accountable.”

According to Mr. Kyari, NNPC did not commit any illegality; what they did is that they did not follow the right steps.

(NAN)

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