Imo Explosion: FG Begins Assessment Of Disaster To Provide Victims With Relief

 

This combination of photos created on April 23, 2022, shows the aftermath of an explosion that rocked an illegal refinery in Imo State.

 

The Federal Government has commenced an impact assessment to ascertain the level of disaster in the recent fire explosion at an illegal refinery located at Abaezi community in Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.

This is part of efforts to know the volume of relief to provide to families affected during the incident.

No fewer than 110 people lost their lives in the tragic incident on April 22 that sent the state and President Muhammadu Buhari into mourning.

A few days after the explosion, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq was in Owerri, the state capital.

Address a press conference on Sunday, she said the purpose of the impact assessment is to assist victims in building their lives back.

READ ALSO: Imo Govt Holds Mass Burial For Victims Of Illegal Refinery Explosion

The Minister, who was represented by the Director of Relief and Rehabilitation in the Ministry, Alhassan Nuhu, said that disaster risk management is first a local and collective endeavor before it becomes national.

He asked traditional and religious leaders, women, and youth groups to join hands with the federal and state government to serve as watchdogs and continuously advocate against the setup and safe use of refinery facilities in their communities.

“I implore community leaders, traditional and religious leaders, women and youth groups to join hands with NEMA to serve as watchdogs,” he said.

“In order to protect lives, properties, and the environment, it is obvious that disaster risk management is first a local and collective endeavour before it becomes national.

“Our visit today is not only to condole with the good people of Imo State but also to assess the extent of the disaster and also ascertain the volume of relief to provide for the victims for the purpose of assisting them to build them better.”

Imo Tragedy: Buhari Mourns Victims, Orders Clampdown On Illegal Refineries

A photo combination of President Muhammadu Buhari and the scene of an explosion that rocked an illegal refinery in Imo State.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has mourned the victims of an explosion that rocked an illegal refinery in Imo State and also ordered an intensified clampdown on illegal refining sites across the country.

About 100 people were killed on Friday after a fire engulfed an illegal crude oil refining site in the Abaezi forest, in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.

Two days after the tragic incident, President Buhari described the explosion as  a “catastrophe and a national disaster.”

READ ALSO: Many Burnt Beyond Recognition In Imo Illegal Refinery Explosion

In a statement issued on Sunday by his media aide, Garba Shehu, the Commander-in-Chief said the responsibility for the loss of lives and property must squarely lie with the sponsors of the illegal refinery, “who must all be caught and made to face justice”.

The President conveyed “the condolences and the full depth and range of the nation’s shock and trauma” to the families of the victims, the Ohaji Egbema community, and the government and people of Imo State.

To forestall a reoccurrence of the incident, the President ordered the armed forces, security, and intelligence agencies to intensify the clampdown on illegal refineries.

This is even as he urged community leaders, the police, and the secret service to never allow the occurrence of the heart-breaking incident in any part of the country again.

Meanwhile, the Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma has commiserated with the families of affected victims.

He, however, explained that running an illegal refinery in the area amounted to economic sabotage to the state and the nation and a criminal act that all should desist from.

The governor warned those still in the business of running illegal refineries in the state to stop forthwith or face the wrath of the law.

Illegal refineries have remained a menace, posing an environmental and economic threat to the nation and resulting in condemnation and crackdowns by the government – especially in the South-South.

Earlier this month, amid reports of widespread crude oil theft and the environmental impact of illegal refineries – evident in the soot problem in Rivers State, the Nigerian Navy launched an operation to combat the threat.

Five Family Members, 13 Others Arrested Over Illegal Refineries In Rivers

Some of the trucks intercepted by the police for oil bunkering in the Rivers State.

 

The Rivers State Police Command has arrested five members of the same family for allegedly operating an illegal refinery in the oil-rich state.

According to the police, the suspects are among the 18 persons said to be part of those aiding and abetting the operation of illegal crude oil refineries in Rivers.

They were nabbed in a remote community of Mgbu-Atafia in Emohua Local Government Area “for providing their land to persons for use in illegal oil refining and bunkering activities.”

The other suspects were apprehended in parts of the state for operating an artisanal refining site and taking part in the haulage of finished products within the state.

READ ALSO: EFCC Re-Arrests Mompha For Alleged Money Laundering

Officers of the Rivers State Police Command also impounded two tankers and two large trucks used for the illegal storage and transportation of suspected illegally refined petroleum products.

While parading the 18 suspects at the Police Headquarters in Port Harcourt on Monday, the Commissioner of Police in Rivers, Eboka Friday, warned residents against getting involved in such economic sabotage or risk arrest and prosecution.

There is now an aggressive attempt by the Rivers State Government and the police authorities to tackle the menace of illegal refining of crude oil which is identified as a major contributor to the emission of soot in the state, apart from the economic loss to the nation.

In a New Year broadcast, Governor Nyesom Wike directed chairmen of local council authorities to identify and destroy illegal refining sites in their domain.

In his second broadcast a week later, the governor placed 19 persons on the wanted list for operating artisanal refining sites in parts of Obio/Akpor and Ikwerre Local Government Areas.

He had threatened to reveal more names from other parts of Rivers State if such illegal activities persist. None of those declared wanted has been arrested.

Management Of Port Harcourt Refinery Says Fire Incident Won’t Disrupt Rehabilitation Of Plants

 

The management of the Port Harcourt Refining Company says the recent fire incident at the plant in Eleme, Rivers State will not disrupt the ongoing rehabilitation of the two refineries at the complex to operate at full capacities.

The Managing Director of the Company, Ahmed Dikko stated this during an inspection of the site of the inferno on Monday.

He also allayed the fears of Rivers State residents, especially those in the host communities of Eleme and Okrika Local Government Areas, assuring that preventive plans are being made to avoid further occurrence, even though the recent one was a minor situation.

Read Also: [Soot Pollution] Wike Orders Shutdown Of Illegal Refining Sites

The incident occurred on Sunday at the plant which is currently undergoing rehabilitation for full capacity operation.

While initial reports suggested that the plant was completely gutted by the inferno, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) noted that it was a minor incident which was contained in less than two hours.

The incident occurred just hours after Governor Nyesom Wike ordered the shutdown of illegal crude oil refining sites in the state with immediate effect.

In his new year message released on Saturday by his spokesman, Kelvin Ebiri, the governor directed council chairmen and community leaders to report those behind illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities to his office for prosecution.

The move, according to the governor, became necessary to contain the menace of soot pollution which has continued to endanger public health in the state.

More Information Needed To Justify Port Harcourt Refinery Rehabilitation, Says Fayemi

Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi speaks during an interview on Channels TV’s Hard Copy in Abuja on March 19, 2021.

 

Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has said that more information is needed to justify the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.

The Federal Executive Council had on March 17 approved $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery which is said to commence immediately.

Timpre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum had told journalists in Abuja that the first phase will be completed in 18 months which takes the refinery to a production of 90 per cent of its capacity, the second phase will be completed in 24months, while the final phase will be completed in 44months.

But Fayemi who spoke on Friday during an interview on Channels Television’s Hard Copy, faulted the planned project, noting that a private refinery built by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote is underway.

READ ALSO: FEC Approves $1.5bn For Rehabilitation Of Port Harcourt Refinery

“I wouldn’t have taken that decision given the fact that we know that a big refinery, private-sector driven is coming on stream but I don’t have the information that led to that decision at first,” he stated.

“When you are outside a decision-making frame, there is some information that may not be available to you if you look at it at the pure face value. It may not be justifiable but we don’t have all the information responsible for that decision.”

The contractor approved by the Federal Government to repair tha ailing refinery is an Italian E and EPC company who won the bid to handle the rehabilitation project.

Channels Television gathered that the maintenance which is a recurring challenge for the nation’s refineries was elaborately discussed in the Federal Executive Council two days ago as the Federal Government intends employing a professional to manage the refinery after the rehabilitation.

$1.5bn Rehabilitation Of Port Harcourt Refinery: I Will Not Jubilate – Wike

 

Governor Nyesom Wike has said he will not rejoice over the approval of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.

The Rivers State governor who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today said it is not the first time the Federal Government is making promises, many of which he says are yet to see the light of day.

“We have had a lot of promises, we have had a lot of talks and nothing has materialized,” Wike stated.

On Wednesday, the Federal Executive Council approved the plan by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Refinery with $1.5bn.

In reaction to the development, Governor Wike said the news was nothing to make anyone jubilate. According to him, promises of this nature are only pointers to the fact that elections are around the corner.

“We have heard these promises and nothing has happened,” Wike stated.

READ ALSO: Kaduna Security: Bandits Attack Emir’s Convoy, Two Killed In Igabi, Kauru LGAs

File photo of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike speaking at the Government House in Port Harcourt.

 

He further opined that “If the refinery is going to work, it will improve a lot of economic activities, there will be employment for the people of the state. We will be happy but I am saying that we have had these promises and promises and nothing has happened. So, I don’t want to begin to say hallelujah. Let us wait and see what will happen based on the approval and the statement made by the minister of state, petroleum. We will hold him accountable for it.

“We know, even before the (APC) government came into being, they have promised a lot of things and later they come up to say because of these challenges and that, they are not able to fulfill them.

“We are going into 2023, so many promises will be made, so many approvals will be made.”

The governor said rather than jump in excitement regarding the approval by the Federal Executive Council, Nigerians must wait and see how the government acts on the rehabilitation exercise as promised.

FEC Approves $1.5bn For Rehabilitation Of Port Harcourt Refinery

 

The Federal Executive Council has approved $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery which is said to commence immediately.

Briefing State House Correspondents on Wednesday after the FEC meeting in Abuja, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said the rehabilitation will be carried out in three phases.

File photo of the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja.

 

The first phase will be completed in 18 months which takes the refinery to a production of 90 percent of its capacity, the second phase will be completed in 24months, while the final phase will be completed in 44months.

READ ALSO: Kano Govt Confirms Four Dead, 284 Hospitalised Over ‘Strange Disease’

The contractor approved by council is an Italian E and EPC company who won the bid to handle the rehabilitation project.

Sylva assured that the maintenance which is a recurring challenge for the nation’s refineries was elaborately discussed in council, adding that a professional will be employed to manage the refinery after the rehabilitation.

On his part, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, presented a memo approved by the council to the tune of ₦3.70billion for the supply of various equipment to strengthen the Nigeria Centre for disease control (NCDC) across the federation, to respond effectively not only to COVID-19 issues but to other diagnostic issues.

Nigeria To Become Major Exporter Of Petroleum Products In Two Years, Says DPR

 

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has said that with the five refinery plants under construction across the country and seven others, Nigeria will be a net exporter of petroleum products in the next two years.

The Director and Chief Executive Officer of DPR, Sarki Auwalu disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr Auwalu stated that the flow of imports will be reversed when the new refineries come on stream in the next two years.

He added that the feat would be achieved through the combined capacity of 375,000 barrels per day from 27 modular refineries, 650,000 barrels from the Dangote refinery, and the 450,000 barrels from the government refineries.

READ ALSO: Ex-Depot Price For Petrol Increased To N151 – Reports

Specifically, he said the Dangote integrated refinery and petrochemical project with 650,000 barrels per day, the biggest in Africa, the Waltersmith refinery with 7,000 capacity per day, and others that were almost near completion would come on stream.

The existing five included the four plants owned by the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the one owned and operated by Niger Delta Petroleum Resources.

Auwalu said that the aspiration of DPR was to grow the oil reserve to 40 billion barrels and gas to 210 trillion cubic feet.

He added that the department would also grow oil production from its current 2.4 million capacity to three million production capacity and as well reduced cost of production.

“Currently, we have oil prospective license about 61, more than 2, 000 wells that are producing crude oil and condensate, we have about 125 wells producing gas.

“We equally have 20 floating, loading, and offloading vessels. 28 oil terminals, several float stations, and oil and gas processing factories,” he said.

The director said that none of the functional oil facilities stopped work because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the country maintained production and export.

NUPENG, PENGASSAN Accuse NNPC Of Sacking 850 Oil Workers

Oil Output
A file photo of the refinery in Kaduna, a state in north-west Nigeria.

 

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is alleged to have sacked 850 contract staff working in the nation’s refineries.

This is according to a statement jointly signed by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN).

It was signed by Williams Akporeha (NUPENG National President), Ndukaku Ohaeri (PENGASSAN National President), Afolabi Olawale (NUPENG General Secretary), and Lumumba Okugbawa (PENGASSAN General Secretary).

The unions also faulted the comments purportedly made by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, on refineries and oil and gas workers in the country.

They accused the minister of claiming that the refineries have not been working for three years while workers have continued to receive salaries and promotions.

He was also said to have blamed the oil workers for the sorry state of the refineries and that the union threatened to go on strike when NNPC said it would sack support staff.

In their response, the unions said the purported comments were laced with fabricated misinformation, misrepresentation of facts and falsehoods.

They said such comments were uncharitable and appalling, alleging that the minister was only making attempt to blamed what they described as the policy failure, maladministration, lack of foresight, and mismanagement of the refineries on hapless workers.

“On the purported threat of the Group Managing Director of NNPC to sack workers, we wish to state here that it was actually no more a threat but that it had already been carried out with the sack of 850 support staff in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, throwing almost a thousand workers into hard financial situation without an iota of empathy or consultation with the union,” the statement said.

The unions denied the claim that they threatened to go on strike, saying they demanded to be engaged for a proper discussion on the commensurate terminal benefits of the workers who have worked for 10 to 15 years.

“If a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Group Managing Director of NNPC can dismiss contract workers that have served for more than 10 years continuously as if they are rodents, what more can we expect from lOCs?

“The monthly salaries of 25 of these contract staff put together cannot equal a typical management staff salary of the same organisation,” the statement added.

When contacted for its reaction, the NNPC told Channels Television that it would speak about the allegations on Wednesday.

House Of Reps Wants 300 Sacked WRPC Workers Reinstated

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja .

 

The House of Representatives has called for the reinstatement of over 300 casual staff of the Warri Refining And Petro-Chemical Company (WRPC).

The leadership made this known at plenary on Tuesday, as part of its resolutions after a member, Hon. Thomas Eveyitomi moved a motion that the sack of the over 300 workers be looked into.

Eveyitomi noted that the workers were laid off in spite of the Federal Government’s directives that no government agency or private establishment should sack or lay off any of its staff at a time when the world is battling a pandemic.

According to him, all the affected persons are indigenes of the host communities where the Refinery is located, which is made up of Itsekiri and Urhobo communities.

Speaking further, Hon Eveyitomi noted that sometime in 2019, Hon. Ben Bakpa had presented a petition to the House on behalf of the host communities seeking, amongst other things, a de-casualisation of the employment status of indigenous workers with the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company.

Also according to him, without respect for the House committee on public petitions, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation went ahead to recruit 1,050 graduate trainees against the resolution and recommendations of the committee.

“This recruitment did not reflect the principles of fairness as enshrined in Section 28(2) of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act which provides inter alia that “the Board shall ensure that the operator or project promoter maintains a reasonable number of personnel from areas it has significant operation,” he said.

Hon. Eveyitomi added that the WRPC went ahead to lay off hundreds of its staff, despite the fact that the casualisation of the status of the workers and the non-concession to the host communities in the recent recruitment of graduate trainees is a matter that was still before the House committee on public petitions and going against the government’s directives.

He, therefore, noted that if the House does not step in immediately to arrest the situation, there may likely be a breakdown of law and order and interruption of the smooth operations of the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company and its subsidiaries.

Consequently, the House reached a resolution to direct the NNPC and management of the WRPC to reinstate the over 300 persons affected by their actions pending the investigation by the House committee on public petitions.

Secondly, it said it would mandate its Committee on Petroleum Down Stream to carry out a forensic investigation into the recent recruitment of graduate trainees by the NNPC with a view to determining how many persons were recruited from the various host communities.

Large Fire Rocks US Oil Refinery

 

An explosion at a US oil refinery on Tuesday resulted in a huge fireball, social media clips showed, with plant owners Exxon Mobil saying no one was hurt.

Flames could be seen shooting up from the Louisiana chemical centre, according to Facebook videos posted by David Allen.

The fire at the Baton Rouge facility had been contained and volunteer Exxon Mobil fire team members were attending, the company posted on Twitter Wednesday.

“There are no injuries, with all personnel accounted for. The fire was contained to the area where it occurred,” an Exxon spokesman later told AFP in a statement.

The perimeter and surrounding areas of North Baton Rouge will be actively monitored, the spokesman added, though “at this point, all readings are non-detect”.

The company’s integrated facilities in the southern American state produce a range of oil-based products — such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel — as well as everyday items like paint and plastic milk jugs.

AFP

NNPC GMD Encourages Investors To Establish Refinery In Akwa Ibom

France To Invest Over €1bn In Nigeria's Oil, Gas Sector - NNPC

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)  Mr Maikanti Baru says the oil company has engaged investors to establish a refinery in Akwa Ibom State.

The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Maikanti Baru said this in Akwa-Ibom during the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria’s, PENGASSAN, Triennial Retreat amd Synergy workshop.

Baru said Akwa-Ibom state is well-positioned geographically to have a refinery.

“The investors have been coming to us and I have seen one that is quite promising. It is in this light that I encouraged these investors to come and see the state government and discuss,” he said.

He called on the Akwa Ibom State Government to explore partnership opportunities provided by the investors towards establishing the refinery in the state.

READ ALSO: NNPC Scandal: I Approved Two Joint Venture Financing, Says Osinbajo

Baru further called on industry players to brace up for change in the sector. He said with the current state of the international energy market, there is the urgent need to rehabilitate the nation’s refineries as well as the Petroleum Industry (Governance) Bill currently being considered by the National Assembly.

He also appreciated the support given by PENGASSAN and NUPENG towards the growth and industrial peace in the NNPC.

“I would like to appreciate the support given to us by the two unions, PENGASSAN and NUPENG. You have over the years exhibited the high level of maturity and partnership. This is evident in your pragmatic approach to issues.

“This is evident in your pragmatic approach to issues. As well as strategic engagement with industry stakeholders which has not only guaranteed industrial peace and harmony but has also ensured the stable supply of petroleum products across the country,”