By Joan Nwagwu
The Federal Government said on Wednesday that it has no plans to concession or sell the refineries in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari said this while declaring open the 5th Triennial National Delegates’ Conference of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria(PENGASSAN) in Abuja.
The theme of the conference is: “Emerging Trends in the Oil and Gas Industry and its Impacts on Labour Movement in Nigeria.”
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Ibe Kachikwu said that it was imperative to make the clarification as there were rumours, especially from people who should know better.
According to him, there has been no attempt and there is no approval to concession or sell refineries.
“I keep hearing discussions all over the place, especially from people who should know better.
“What we have approval for is to bring in a financing mechanism that will enable us to finance and develop and upgrade the refineries as they are.
“The reality is that once private sector players begin to build their own refineries, whatever we are afraid of will disappear.
“And unless we begin to move very rapidly and quickly to position these refineries in such a way that they can compete, we will lose the refineries completely together withthe job scale that exist there right now.
“My drive is to see that those investments goes through a transparent process and the announcement that you hear about selection has not happened, ” he said.
The president, however, said there was need to bring in fund and best practices that would elevate the institutions to the level where they should work for the country as the nation was losing money.
Buhari decried the drop in the oil price, saying that the prices have tumbled and have continued to struggle in spite of all the works done in Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC) to stabilise price.
He also noted that that investments are declining at an alarming rate and there are new entrants into the industry.
According to him, only those who are able to look at their technology and new ways of doing business are going to survive the oil industry of tomorrow.
“As it concerns Nigeria, we must work inclusively hard to deal with some of the difficulties that we will continue to see in our production platforms.
“Whether it is the militants which is a key component or the slow speed of approvals or whether the fact that our policies are not even as fast as they should to catch up with changing times.
“We have to influence policies and we have got to work extremely hard to help drive the change that is imperative is the sector to survive.
“Infrastructural deficit is a key component.
“We lack infrastructure in the sector, whether it is downstream or upstream or oil and gas.
“The absence of infrastructure has made it impossible to have a holistic private sector participation.
“We have got to find policies that will encourage private sector participants to play a key role. coupled with that is the fact that countries are moving away from oil, ”he said.
The president called on the union to see other opportunities in terms of job creation and employment in the oil sector.
He also called on them to see gas as the future new horizon of opportunity for the country and urged them to take advantage it.
He stressed the need to end gas flaring within the next three years.