BY FESTUS OKOROMADU, ABUJA
The Federal Government has confirmed that the Port Harcourt Refinery will commence crude oil refining by December 2023.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, said this during an inspection tour of the rehabilitation work progress at the Port Harcourt Refining Company Ltd. plant, in Port Harcourt on Friday.
He reiterated the government’s commitment to ending petroleum product importation soon, as efforts are being redoubled to restore the nation’s local refining capacity.
The Minister, who was in the company of his counterpart, the Minister of State for Petroleum (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ambassador Gabriel T. Aduda, and the Group CEO, NNPC Ltd., Mele Kyari, said considering the level of progress recorded in the PHRC rehabilitation project, the plant will come back on stream by December this year.
“Our objective in coming here today is to ensure that in the next few years, Nigeria stops fuel importation. From what we have seen here today, Port Harcourt Refinery will come on board by the end of the year, Warri will come on stream by the end of the first quarter of next year, and Kaduna will also come on board towards the end of next year. If you add that to the Dangote Refinery, we will be able to stop fuel importation, and Nigerians will enjoy the full benefits of deregulation,” the Minister assured.
The Minister also said he was satisfied with the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Port Harcourt refinery, noting that once all the refineries are back on stream, Nigerians will enjoy a better supply of petroleum products, and foreign exchange will be domesticated, leading to an improved economy.
Earlier in his remarks, Kyari said bringing back the refineries to their optimal levels is a national aspiration, and the Company remains focused on delivering that.
“We are aware of our nation’s challenges in terms of fuel supply. But we are not here to give excuses. We are focused on delivering this rehabilitation project, our two other refineries, and all other investments towards revamping the nation’s refining capacity. We are hopeful that in 2024, this country will be a net exporter of petroleum products,” Kyari stated.
Also speaking, Ekpo said, “We are here to go into the field. Yesterday was the era of subsidies. Today, we don’t have subsidies. Today, people are in a desperate situation to heave a sigh of relief; and see how to live. You all know that petrol is very vital to our economy.
All hands must be on deck to ensure that the refineries are working,” he stated.
During the visit, the two Ministers also participated in the Refineries’ Rehabilitation Steering Committee meeting and held a meeting with the refinery’s Engineering, Procurement & Construction Contractors.