April 21, 2024

Minister of State for Oil affirms 2mbpd crude oil target by end of 2023, vows to hold NNPCL accountable for refinery completion deadline

Mele Kyari, GCEO NNPCL and Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State Oil

Adedokun Theophilus, Abuja

 

Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), has reiterated Nigeria’s ambitious target of achieving crude oil production of 2 million barrels per day before the end of 2023 and has emphasized his commitment to holding the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) accountable for the December deadline for the completion of the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery.

 

 

He made this known at the weekend during an engagement with State House correspondents after a three-day retreat for ministers and cabinet members of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, held at the State House Conference Center, Abuja.

 

 

According to him, as a ministry we have set some very ambitious numbers for ourselves that before the end of the year, we should be doing at least close to 2 million barrels per day.

 

 

He noted that increasing the country’s production volume is the easiest way to get out of the country’s fuel crisis.

 

 

He said, “The midstream and downstream sub-sectors will fail, if we don’t increase crude production volume. We must produce the oil that is to be refined before transporting and distribution.

 

“At the moment, the major challenge we inherited is the low volume of production which was a result of insecurity issues, lack of investments and all other concerns. We are, however, addressing all these issues and in the next few months, we will be able to come up with a different report.

 

 

“But we have addressed the issue of insecurity, we have rekindled the confidence of international oil companies to come back and begin to reinvest. We are addressing some of the issues they have raised with us which has to do with both fiscal and regulatory and so on.

 

 

Reacting to comments on the scheduled deadline for all the country’s refineries, the Minister mentioned that the previous administration commenced the rehabilitation of the refineries.

 

 

He said, “As part of the President’s directive, I have gone round all the refineries and from what they have briefed me, Port Harcourt has 3 phases, so Phase 1 will be ready by the end of this year.

 

 

“I am not the one who is directly in charge of rehabilitation, it is the NNPCL, and they have told me, and I am holding them accountable.

 

 

“For Warri refinery, they said Phase 1 will be ready by the end of the year. Phase 2 and 3 in Port Harcourt will be ready next year and the whole of Kaduna refinery will be ready by the end of next year. That is what they said, and I am holding them accountable to their own words.

 

 

“I will be going there in the next few weeks; I go there regularly and sometimes without a schedule so that nobody plans for me. I just appear to see what is going on.

 

 

“I believe that those refineries, if we can achieve some level of rehabilitation by the end of this year, will also improve our domestic refining capacity. But that is not even the problem, the Dangote refinery is coming,” he said.

 

 

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources confirmed that some of the licensed modular refineries are facing feedstock challenges due to the lack of crude oil available for them to refine.

He said, “That’s why I said unless we produce sufficient quantities, even if the refineries are rehabilitated there will be no feedstock.

 

 

“My concern is how to ramp up production to feed the big refineries and also the modular refineries.  These are the real employers of Labour, and they will do the magic,” Lokpobiri said.

 

 

The Minister further emphasised that, over the last few months, he has liberalised the process to acquire modular licenses in the country, from what it used to be prior to handing over to the new administration.

 

 

He said, “Before, I heard that it sometimes takes so long to acquire licenses, so I said I don’t want to know your face provided the requirements are met, bring them to me. I will sign within 24 hours, and I have signed them.

 

 

“I have also said I don’t want to give people licenses and they use it as souvenirs, if you are given a license, you must use it within the terms or else,” the Minister said.

 

 

Lokpobiri therefore warned that licenses of any abandoned and unproductive refinery would be cancelled.

 

 

According to him,” Just like I didn’t know you before signing the license, I will also cancel without blinking an eye.”