The importation of petroleum products into the country is a fraud and must be put to an end if the nation is to make progress in the oil and gas sector, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said.
According to him, aside the fact that it is a shame that Nigeria has been importing finished petroleum products over the years despite having abundant oil resources, the system has been opaque for a long period.
In his ministerial address titled: ‘Reforming and repositioning the oil and gas industry in Nigeria’ at the ongoing Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Kachikwu stated that the government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation must meet its target of ending petroleum products’ importation between 2018 and 2019.
He said, “Importation of petroleum products will have to cease. There’s absolutely no reason why a country with the resources that we have will continue to import petroleum products. It is a shame on this country, it is a fraud on the system and we are going to end it.
“We are committed to the 2018/2019 template, because it is something we have to do. The refineries are not performing to capacity and it is not going to be easy, but we have to end importation of petroleum products.
“If we do that, the downstream will survive; but if we don’t, then by the first quarter of 2020, the Dangote refinery will come on board. And if that happens, it then means we will have scraps in our hands as refineries. Therefore, there’s the urgency of now to end importation.”
Kachikwu told delegates to the conference that in 2016, the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry was challenged by the menace of asset vandalism.
He said, “Our crude oil export pipeline system namely, Trans Forcados to the west, the Obangbiri-TemiDaba-Brass in central Niger Delta, the Nembe creek trunk line and the Trans-Niger pipeline, which evacuates crude produced onshore to export terminals, were subject to severe vandalism.
“Similarly, the Bonny-Port Harcourt crude oil pipeline and the Escravos-Warri-Kaduna crude oil supply pipelines were not spared. In spite of this, we witnessed a peak production of 2.35 million barrels per day recorded at the beginning of 2016, which declined to an almost all-time-low of 1.3 million barrels per day per day due to incessant vandalism. Our 2016 crude oil production averaged 1.85 million barrels of oil per day.”
The minister noted that despite these, Nigeria remained a leading producer in Africa with the potential to boost production to the neighbourhood of three million barrels of oil per day by 2020 once the required investments flowed in and the planned deep-water projects were fully realised.
This, he said, was aimed at achieving an incremental reserve of at least one billion barrels and half a million barrels in production capacity per day.
“For example, the opening up of the Dahomey Basin with the coming on stream of the Aje field is certainly a major milestone for the industry,” he stated.
Kachikwu also noted that the engagements with state governments and groups in the Niger Delta had started yielding positive results, as over the last 60 days, the activities of militants in the region had dropped to near zero.