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Nigeria will end fuel importation from mid-2023, says NNPC boss

By Terhemba Daka, Abuja 
31 August 2022   |   2:39 am
Nigeria will no longer import refined petroleum products from mid-2023, the Federal Government declared yesterday.
NNPC chairman

The CEO of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Mele Kyari. PHOTO: TWITTER/NNPC

Nigeria will no longer import refined petroleum products from mid-2023, the Federal Government declared yesterday.

This is based on the expected completion of ongoing maintenance of the nation’s refineries and the almost completed Dangote platform.

Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, who made the disclosure during the weekly Ministerial Media briefing anchored by the Presidential Media Team, Abuja, also lamented the phenomenon of oil theft bedevilling the society, with even churches, mosques, among others, serving as tapping points by oil thieves.

Speaking on achieving an end to petroleum products’ importation by the middle of 2023, the NNPC boss explained that with the total production from the national refineries, which are currently being refurbished and will be ready next year, and the products from Dangote Refinery, which Nigeria has a 20 per cent stake, the country should be able to meet domestic needs without any need for importation from mid-2023.

“NNPC owns 20 per cent equity in the Dangote refinery and not only that, we have the first right of refusal to supply crude oil to that plant. We saw this energy transition challenge coming, we knew that a time will come when you will look for people who will buy your crude oil but you won’t find it. That means we have locked down the ability to sell crude oil for 330,000 barrels minimum right for the next 20 years.

“Also, by right also we have access to 20 per cent of the production from that plant. That means that whatever it does, you know we have a right to take 20 per cent of that production as part of our equity and this refinery will come on stream by latest the middle of next year.”

The NNPC boss further defended the authority’s decision to hire private contractors, including the one belonging to a former militant commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, to man its oil pipeline network nationwide, saying that the decision was in the right direction.

He noted that it was not the first time that individuals within the Niger Delta region were awarded a contract for pipeline surveillance, noting that the decision was in the interest of the people.

“As you may be aware, because of the very unfortunate acts of vandals along our major pipelines from Atlas Cove all the way to Ibadan, and all others connecting all the 37 depots that we have across the country. You know, none of them can take delivery of products today.

“And the reason is very simple. For some of the lines, for instance, from Warri to Benin, we haven’t operated that line for 15 years. Every molecule of product that we put get lost. And of course, you remember the sad incident of fire incident very close to Warri, close to Sapele that killed so many people.

“So, we had to shut it down and as we speak, ladies and gentlemen, the level of losses that we have on our product pipeline, and I are sure you may have seen it and I’ll invite you at the right time so we can take a look at it jointly.

“You remember that Lagos area. When a fire outbreak happened in one of our pipelines, we discovered that some of the pipelines were actually connected to individuals’ homes. And not only that, and with all sensitivity to our religious beliefs, you know, some of the pipelines and some of the products that we found, are actually in churches and in mosques.

“That means that everybody is involved. There is no way you will take products, bring in trucks in populated neighbourhoods, load them and leave without everybody else knowing about it. That everybody includes members of the community, members of the religious leaders and also and most likely government officials of all natures, including security agencies personnel. They are everywhere. And I’ve seen this even in the Niger Delta. There’s no way you would deliver a volume and lose up to 30 per cent and you will continue to put that product in this line.”

Further on the decision to hire private contractors to provide surveillance for the oil pipeline network nationwide, Kyari argued that although the security agencies were doing their part, end-to-end pipeline monitoring would require private entities as well as other community stakeholders’ involvement.

“We need private contractors to man the right of way to these pipelines. So we put up a framework for contractors to come and bid and they were selected through a tender process. And we believe we made the right decision.”

Specifically on the contract, Kyari confirmed that although the FG was not dealing directly with the former militant, it has signed a contract with a company in which Tompolo has interests.

“We don’t have access to that and therefore, we put up a framework where contractors were selected through a tender process for people who can do it, not everyone can do it and Tompolo is just mentioned, we’re dealing with corporate entities.

“He may have interest in the company, we’re not dealing with Tompolo, but we know that he has an interest in that company. We know that we’re engaging all other individuals who will be of help to us in this situation. This has happened severally over time and the end result was that it was contained under a process like this and we believe that we are taking the right decision,” he explained.

Lamenting the losses from the nation’s pipelines, he said that the nefarious business of pipeline vandals cuts across different regions and religious organisations where the pipelines pass through, adding that some of the pipelines are illegally connected around Churches and Mosques.

He also revealed that the NNPC management was building the National Reserve Company.

Lamenting the issue of crude oil theft which, he said was real and happening, Kyari said the company was not helpless as its efforts were already paying off.

He said that 295 illegal connections were discovered in one line in less than 200 meters and that the company with the help of the security agencies and the directive of the Chief of Defense Staff, they were able to intervene.

He said so far, 30 Speed Boats, 179 Wooden Boats, and 37 trucks have been arrested but added that the authorities have taken the decision not to arrest any longer but to burn such confiscated products.

Besides, he said that 122 persons comprising highly placed individuals have been arrested between April and August and that some of them have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

He said 739 Ovens for the illegal crude oil theft have been discovered and some destroyed, 344 reservoirs were created and 355 Cooking Pots were also discovered, stressing that the level of the illegal business was enormous.

On why oil facilities had to be shut down, Kyari said, “as you may also be aware, because of the very unfortunate acts of vandals along our major pipelines from Atlas Cove all the to Ibadan, and all others connecting all the 37 depots that we have across the country. You know, none of them can take delivery of products today.

“And the reason is very simple. For some of the lines, for instance, from Warri to Benin, we haven’t operated that line for 15 years. Every molecule of product that we put get lost and, of course, you remember the sad incident of the fire incident very close to Warri, close to Sapele that killed so many people.

“So, we had to shut it down and as we speak, ladies and gentlemen, the level of losses that we have on our product pipeline, and I are sure you may have seen it and I’ll invite you at the right time so we can take a look at it jointly.

“You remember that Lagos area. When a fire outbreak happened in one of our pipelines, we discovered that some of the pipelines were actually connected to individuals’ homes and not only that, and with all sensitivity to our religious beliefs, you know, some of the pipelines and some of the products that we found, are actually in churches and in mosques.

“That means that everybody is involved. There is no way you will take products, bring in trucks in populated neighbourhoods, load them and leave without everybody else knowing about it.

“That everybody includes members of the community, members of the religious leaders and also and most likely government officials of all natures, including security agencies personnel. They are everywhere and I’ve seen this even in the Niger Delta. There’s no way you would deliver a volume and lose up to 30 per cent and you will continue to put products in this line,” he revealed.

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