Information Minister, Labaran Maku, on Sunday called on Nigerians and other major players in the oil and gas sector to support the planned privatisation of the nation’s refineries in order to enthrone transparency and efficiency in the sector at the end of the exercise.
Maku made the submission when he led the good governance team to the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Limited.
He explained that the lingering crisis in the petroleum sector especially the frequent non availability of kerosene in the country necessitated the proposed privatisation by the Federal Government.
The minister also expressed worry that despite government’s subsidy on kerosene, some marketers had continued to sabotage the effort by selling it over the 50 Naira approved pump price.
He disclosed that in spite of the various policies introduced by government to sanitise the sector over the years, such policies were always frustrated by some group of individuals gaining from the crises in the oil and gas sector.
“Nigeria can overcome the perennial kerosene scarcity and other challenges in the oil sector if Nigerians support the deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector and privatisation of the refineries. This will encourage the establishment of more private refineries and also give way for transparency and efficiency,” Mr Maku said.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC), Mr Andrew Yakubu, who conducted the minister and his team round the company, said the Kaduna refinery currently functioned at about 60 per cent capacity but would operate at about 90 per cent capacity after a full turn around maintenance.
The GMD supported the proposed privatisation of the nation’s refineries and emphasised that the policy had become necessary to ensure efficiency and better result in the production capacity of the refineries.
On its part, the management of Kaduna refinery told the minister that the refinery could generate one trillion Naira (about 6.4 billion dollars) revenue annually to the Federal Government if the facilities were properly maintained.
He also attributed the decline in the refinery’s production capacity to non-maintenance of the equipment every three years.