President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to ensure regular crude supply to Watersmith and other modular refineries in the country to enable them operate optimally
He also directed all other relevant agencies not to starve the modular refineries of all resources including condensate to operate.
Buhari gave the order during the virtual commissioning of Watersmith’s 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) Modular Refinery and ground breaking for the 45, 000 bpd refinery at Ibigwe Field, Ohaji Egbema Council Area of Imo State.
He said the modular refineries represent four key policy roadmap rolled out by his administration last year aimed at reducing importation of petroleum products.
The president, who expressed delight commissioning the refinery, described it as the largest modular refinery in the country.
He stated that the refinery was an important part of the economic reform which the country was currently undergoing, expressing happiness that the refinery had created thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the downstream subsector.
While congratulating the people of Ohaji Egbema and Imo State, Buhari expressed optimism that the refinery would bring prosperity and economic development to the area.
The state Governor Hope Uzodimma described the refinery as the first ever privately owned refinery in Nigeria and first to be sited in the state and congratulated Watersmith for its dogged determination in changing the narrative from public sector driven to private sector driven economy.
He regretted that previous administrations since 1999 had granted licence for individuals to establish refineries but none worked.
He said: “It took the sincere determination of President Muhammadu Buhari to make local refineries. President Buhari is simply working the talk as a man providing visionary leadership for the country. He’s making Nigeria great again. Buhari is making deliberate attempt at creating jobs. This is one of such attempts and this will help the nation cut down importation of petroleum products.”
The governor appealed to the Federal Government “not to kill this refinery by starving it of raw materials” promising to do everything within his power to protect the investment.
He advised oil companies operating in the state not to cut corners to avoid aggravating hostilities from host communities.
“Oil companies should be alive to their corporate social responsibilities and ensure that all the rules of engagement are adhered to. We thank Watersmith for creating a value chain by building a refinery, industrial cluster and electricity within the host community.”
Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Silva said the commissioning was a gradual reduction in importation of petroleum products.
This, he said, was one of the reasons the administration deregulated the downstream sector, adding that the government was doing this to allow the sector sanitise itself.
He reiterated government’s commitment at getting the country back to the previous years when the country was net exporter of refined petroleum products.
Silva, who disclosed that the sector would provide over 500, 000 jobs, assured that the NNPC and DPR would provide all the necessary support to ensure the refinery expands 5,000 to 50, 000 bpd.
Source: The Nation