Niger Republic which only recently discovered crude oil in its territory has become a major exporter of refined petroleum products to the giant of Africa and the largest black nation on earth.
In a move that has clearly demonstrated the country’s lack of seriousness in reviving local refineries, the Federal Government has granted approval for some companies to start lifting petroleum products from Zinder Refinery in neighbouring Niger Republic to Nigeria.
The approval, according to government sources, was granted to augment the current deficit resulting in declining production occasioned by several intractable factors including the recent fire outbreak in Port Harcourt Refinery.
Niger, a landlocked country, has consistently remained one of the lowest-ranked in the United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI); it was ranked 186th of 186 countries for 2012. It produced its first barrels of oil only in 2011.
On the other hand; Nigeria, with a maximum crude oil production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day, ranks as Africa’s largest producer of oil and the sixth largest oil producing country in the world. It started producing crude oil in commercial quantity 57 years ago. The country has four refineries, two in Port Harcourt and one each in Kaduna and Warri. The refineries have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 bpd but are in dismal state.
Operations Controller, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Kano Zone, Sayyadi Suleiman Abubakar, last Wednesday during the annual petroleum products marketers’ meeting in Kano, confirmed that government has granted approval for some companies to bring in refined petroleum products through the nation’s land border by truck from the refinery in Niger in order to ensure steady domestic supply.
“I will not hesitate to appreciate and commend the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria for ensuring sanity in petroleum products supply and distribution, despite all odds.
“We are therefore, urging petroleum product marketers to reciprocate the gesture by not involving in the act of profiteering and other illegal activities, particularly, with the approval granted for some companies to import petroleum products into the country through our land border via trucking from Zinder Refinery in Niger Republic,” he said.
But the approval is not welcomed by many Nigerians who think the Federal Government has not demonstrated enough commitment to the resuscitation of local refineries.
“I am surprised that at this stage, we are still importing petroleum products. It is a shame. It is even more shameful that we are now importing from lowly Niger Republic. Niger that discovered oil just yesterday and that depends on us for survival. It is shameful,” said Abel Umar, a staff of one of the oil marketing companies, who attended the meeting, said.