The Azikel Group of Companies, (AGC), owned by an industrialist from Bayelsa State, Monday, said its refinery would begin operation in Bayelsa State in 2018.
The President of AGC, Dr. Azibapu Eruani, who spoke in Yenagoa, hailed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government for giving oil refining and prospecting licences to private oil firms.
Eruani, said his company was one of the beneficiaries of the government’s initiative, adding that company intended to begin local petroleum production in 2018.
The billionaire businessman noted that the oil and gas component of his conglomerate would support the Federal Government to improve capacity and increase production and supply of petroleum products in the country.
Describing Bayelsa as the epicentre of oil and gas in the country, he said it was worrisome that many Bayelsans could not establish themselves as key players in the sector of the nation’s economy.
Eruani said the private refinery initiative by the Federal Government would positively turn around the oil and gas sector.
He insisted that the granting of oil refining licences from the beginning of Buhari’s administration was a strategic success for his government.
He explained that building any type of refinery required enough time adding that work at the Azikel Refinery site had gone above 60 per cent.
Eruani said: “Azikel Group is racing against time to be the first to commence production of petroleum products in 2018.
“Sequel to the increase in the end users of refined petroleum products, demand and the insufficiency, with the nation’s refineries producing at less than 15 per cent installed capacity, the Federal Government’s sagacity is germane to improve production.
“The 23 firms granted licences have the capacity to shore up production by over 700, 000 barrel per day to bridge the insufficiency gap.”
According to him the government’s plan to replace illegal refineries with modular refineries was a welcome development.
He said that the development would outlaw incessant destruction of national assets, damage to the ecosystem and robbing the nation of foreign reserve.
He alłuded that the issuance of refinery and oil prospecting licences by President Buhari was to integrate the people of the Niger Delta in the sector, pointing out that it was part of the ways of allowing the people to control their resources.
On the location of the Azikel Refinery at Obunagh Gbarain in Yenagoa area of Bayelsa, Eruani said it was based on economics of location of industry close to source of raw materials.