EDITORIAL: Welcome to Modular Refineries

Among the steady stream of cheery news items coming out of Aso Rock in the dying days of 2017 was one indicating that Nigeria is making steady and measurable progress in the establishment of modular refineries – a key promise of the present Administration to the people of the Niger Delta in particular, and Nigeria as a whole.

After a meeting of stakeholders on Dec. 22, 2017, the Office of the Vice President announced that the construction of 10 of the approved refineries– in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Imo states (five of the nine states in the Niger Delta region)– had reached an advanced stage. These 10 are out of 38 licensed privately financed green field and mini-modular refineries which investors have so far indicated interest in establishing in the region.

Also, of these 10 refineries, two – the Amakpe Refinery in Akwa Ibom, and the OPAC Refinery in Delta State – have had their mini-refineries modules already fabricated, assembled and containerised overseas, ready for shipment to Nigeria for installation.

As we understand it, there are three phases in the process of refinery establishment – Licence to Establish (LTE), Authority to Construct (ATC) and Licence to Operate (LTO); and saying that the first 10 refineries approved for establishment have reached advanced stage of development means that the candidate refineries have passed all these three stages.

The combined refining capacities of the 10 refineries under reference stand at 300,000 barrels, according to a report issued after the Dec. 22, 2017 meeting between Federal Government officials led by Vice President Yomi Osinbajo and a delegation of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF). Others in attendance at the meeting include the Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Corporation, Mr. Nsima Ekere; and the Special Adviser to the President on the Presidential Amnesty Programme, retired Brig-General Paul Boroh.

Petroleum industry sources say that the estimated daily output of the 10 refineries is more than enough to meet Nigeria’s daily consumption, put by some sources at 214,000 barrels a day,

The Nigerian Expression commends the Federal Government for coming this far in actualising the establishment of modular refinery, and urges diligence in ensuring that this promise to the Nigerian people is kept to the letter. Efforts should be made to ensure that all the 38 modular refineries approved are functional by the end of 2018.

The benefits of establishing modular refineries are legion: profitable engagement of militants and other restive youth in the Niger Delta; employment of large numbers of people from among workers of the estimated 6,000 illegal refineries whose activities will be standardised and regulated; and a reduction in pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft and environmental degradation.

Also, given the problems of maintenance associated with existing bigger refineries, modular refineries will offer the Federal Government a breather from the usually capital-intensive indulgence in turn-around maintenance of the older refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna. Additionally, they will offer Nigeria the path to break free from irritation of fuel scarcity which, for instance, resurfaced across the land just before the Yuletide celebrations, and into the New Year.

Nigerians look forward to enjoying in full the benefits of modular refineries in 2018.

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