From AMECHI OGBONNA, Abuja
As part of its strategies to enthrone a new dawn in the nation’s oil and gas sector, the federal government Tuesday indicated its intention to sell all of the nation’s four refineries over the next 18months to set stage for a more efficient downstream industry.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diazeni Alison- Madueke, who stated this in a panel discussion at the ongoing 18th Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja, said the decision was part of the fallouts of the Dr Kalu Idika Kalu Committee set up by the government to review the state of the nation’s refineries. The disclosure is coming as the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, stated at the opening ceremony of the NESG that government was still considering the options of embarking on Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the refineries or selling them outright to private investors.
Although she did not say how much equity government would be expected to retain in the companies after the sale, the minister explained that a special committee set up by her ministry to review the recommendation has already held very crucial meetings with President Goodluck Jonathan and that the implementation of the privatization programme of the refineries would be completed over the next 18 months. Alison-Madueke pointed out that though it was a very popular and easy decision, government was determined to proceed with the project of privatizing the refineries to make the downstream sector of the Nigerian petroleum industry more efficient and competitive.
She stated “Government wants to strike a balance in the privatization of these parastatals” According to her, a national oil company of Nigeria would be incorporated under CAMA to handle supervision and regulation of the downstream and upstream sector. The minister also pointed out that the assets of the industry would now be managed by a new national Asset Management Corporation (NAMC) that would specially be created for that purpose with two loans.
She stated that the passage of the Petroleum Industry (PIB) now before the National Assembly will turnaround the fortunes of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, as NNPC will be unbundled into three independent companies with two regulatory and supervisory entities Alison- Madueke also assured that the synergies arising from the exercise will increase Nigeria’s reserves through a robust and more efficient acreage management, adding that PIB will increase the participation of new players in the sector as the constraints that have impaired entry into the business.
She stated that the full deregulation of the downstream sector was imperative if Nigeria must sustain its aspiration to the becoming a leading economy not only in Africa but in the world at large.