Government Has No Business Running Oil Refineries – Says Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has restated the resolution of the Buhari administration that the Federal Government has no business running oil refineries in Nigeria.

Speaking at a virtual meeting organised for the All Progressives Congress (APC), social media bloggers and influencers at the ruling party’s secretariat in Abuja on Monday, the Vice President indicated that the Nigerian government sees the private sector as playing a bigger role in investing in and running oil refineries moving forward.

While arguing that the challenges confronting the government-owned refineries will persist if left in the hands of government, he said that government will continue to explore cheaper gas resources as an alternative.

The Vice President expressed confidence that the energy crisis in the country will ease by the first quarter of 2021 when most of the modular refineries would have come on stream.

‘If the refinery is left in the hands of government, it will continue to experience the same problem it is experiencing now. I do not think that it is the business of government to run the refinery. It should be the business of the private sector, which is why we are trying to focus on assisting the private sector to develop modular refineries,’ he argued.

Defending the decision of the Federal Government to hands off the running of refinery, Prof Osinbajo said: ‘There is a 100,000 barrel capacity refinery about to come on stream and we hope it will by the next year. It is completely private and closely located near the Port Harcourt refinery so that it can share the facilities of the Port Harcourt refinery. We are hopeful it will come on stream in the first quarter of next year.

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‘There are also six modular refineries that are almost ready. There is Niger Delta Petroleum refinery in Delta State, there is another one in Imo, there is also another modular refinery in Edo State.

‘We engaged the oil producing communities to find a new vision for the Niger Delta and we tried to encourage modular refinery that will give the people in the oil producing States a stake so that the modular refinery is not just private but the people there have some stake and equity.

‘The whole idea is to support as many private refineries as possible. We are also waiting for the Dangote Refinery with 250,000 barrels capacity which is bigger than all of the government refineries put together.

‘In the next two or three months, we will see the private sector playing a bigger role and things will quickly improve. We hope that this particular effort will complete the refurbishment of the refineries which will be completed soon but I am more hopeful of the private effort been the key to the future,’ he assured.

Speaking further, the Vice President said: ‘However, we have to focus more on our gas resources because there is no reason we should have a cheaper energy source and we should not use such cheaper energy source. I believe that this is really the way to go.’

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