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Consumers, industry stakeholders react to resumption of operations at Port Harcourt Refinery

*Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), announces to Nigerians that in fulfilment of the Federal Government’s  pledge to bring on stream phase 1 of the Port Harcourt Refinery by year-end, ‘we heartily announce the mechanical completion and flare up of the refinery’, heralding  the commencement of production of petroleum products after the Christmas break

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Following the successful test-running and commencement of operations at the rehabilitated oil-refining company, cross-sections of Nigerian fuel consumers and industry stakeholders have applauded the Federal Government for keeping its word in revitalising the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), in Rivers State, South-South Nigeria, by December 2023 as earlier pledged.

ConsumerConnect reports the Port Harcourt Refining Company, shut down in 2019, has resumed operations in accordance with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration’s avowed commitment to producing refined petroleum products at the plant by the end of this year.

The combined oil processing capacity of Nigeria’s four refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna stood at 445,000 barrels per day (bpd), but the refineries had become inoperative due to maintenance concerns over the years.

However, in a turn of events, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), during an inspection tour of the PHRC Limited August this year, confirmed the refinery’s plans to resume operations by this month.

Lokpobiri had said: “Our objective is for Nigeria to cease fuel importation. From our observations today, Port Harcourt Refinery will resume operations by the year’s end.”

The Federal Government also had allocated $1.5 billion (1.2 billion euros) for the rehabilitation of one of its largest oil refineries more than two years ago.

The Italian company, Maire Tecnimont, was selected to oversee the repair work at the Port Harcourt location, which has a production capacity of about 210,000 barrels per day.

H. E. Chief Timipre Sylva, a former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, had stated that the rehabilitation process of the oil-refining facility was structured in three phases, with the aim of attaining 90 percent of the refinery’s nameplate capacity in the first 18 months.

PHRC begins operations after Christmas break –Minister

With the announcement of the resumption of operations, Senator Lokpobiri, equally confirmed the completion of Phase 1 of the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery in Rivers State, signalling the commencement of actual petroleum refining at the facility.

The Minister, who  made the announcement during the 15th Refineries Rehabilitation Steering Committee meeting, held Thursday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, also disclosed that production of petroleum products would commence after the Christmas holiday.

It was learnt Malam Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL); Oritsemeyiwa Eyesan, Executive Vice-President, Upstream at NNPCL; and Chief Pius Akinyelure, Board Chairman of NNPCL, all attended the meeting.

Lokpobiri was quoted to have stated: “This is just to announce to Nigerians that in fulfilment of our pledge to bring on stream phase 1 of the PH refinery by the end of 2023 and the subsequent streaming of phase 2 in 2024.

“We heartily announce the mechanical completion and flare up of the refinery on the 20th of December 2023. This heralds the commencement of production of petroleum products after the Christmas break.”

We thank Nigerians for their patience, trust in NNPCL, say stakeholders

While assuring fuel consumers and other stakeholders of the highest level of production to keep the prices of petroleum products stable in the country, Senator Lokpobiri said: “We want to thank Nigerians for their patience and trust in the NNPCL to deliver on our promise and mandate for the rehabilitation of our refineries.”

Also speaking at the briefing, Chief Akinyelure, NNPCL Board Chairman stated: “We made a promise that the refinery would be on before the end of the year. We are here to witness this historic event.

“We are proud of the staff and the entire Management of the refinery. We are just starting. We want to attain the highest level of production to keep the price of petroleum stable in our country.”

The NNPCL, said Kyari, was committed to ensuring full completion of the refinery.

Consumers, oil dealers speak on new development at Port Harcourt Refinery

Several other Nigerians have equally commented on the resumption of operations at the oil-refining facility in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

In his remarks on the latest development, Dr. Joseph Obele, a former Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in Rivers State, reportedly disclosed that the first phase of the rehabilitation work at the Port Harcourt Refinery had been completed, and was undergoing a test run.

A 74-year-old female retiree from the Federal Civil Service, in Abuja, FCT, who did not not want her name mentioned, told this publication Thursday, December 21 that “the man (President Tinubu) is working; I pray the so-called oil cabal will not have their way, again, in this country with the rehabilitation and subsequent operations of the Port Harcourt Refinery.”

Commenting on the development at PHRC as well, Sen. Shehu Sani, a former Kaduna Central Federal legislator, besides commending the current adminitration’s commitment to reviving the PHRC, also expressed optimism about the Kaduna Refinery’s potential resumption of operations.

Shehu, who took took to his X (formerly Twitter) account to offer his remarks, noted he hoped it (Kaduna Refinery) would soon come alive, following the commendable progress made by the Port Harcourt Refinery.

The former Federal lawmaker stated that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited kept its promise of a December deadline for the refinery to re-commence operations.

Sani tweeted: “I commend Tinubu…. The commencement of operations of the Port Harcourt Refinery is commendable. The NNPCL has kept to its promise of meeting the December deadline. Kudos to the GCEO, the Management, and the FG (Federal Government).

“We hope the Kaduna Refinery that has been inactive for over a decade will come back to operation soon.”

Similarly, stakeholders in the Downstream petroleum sub-sector under the auspices of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) have assured that the prevailing crises in the energy sector would soon end with the resumption of operations at the Port Harcourt Refinery.

We’ll ensure PHRC’s products get to our members and communities ─IPMAN, NOGASA

Tekena Ikpaki, newly elected Chairman of IPMAN in Rivers State, during the recent Port Harcourt Depot Unit’s 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM)/Election, while speaking with reporters had urged the Federal Government to quickly complete the ongoing repairs at the refinery so as to revive lots of businesses in the axis of the country.

Noting that his administration will ensure better leadership of the IPMAN, the Chairman stated that “it is our sole duty to make sure that everybody is satisfied, even if man’s desires are insatiable.

He assured that his leadership would try their best to ensure that products that would come from the refinery, “when it is completed, get to our members and then they get to our communities.”

Ikpaki further said: “The non-functionality of the refinery has crippled a lot of businesses, and a lot of people have gone out of business. People who cannot sustain themselves with the little that is available to them.

“Goods and services as we know moving from one part of the country to another is transportation and this works with petroleum products. The dilapidation of the refinery has affected movement of goods and services.”

In regard to considerable reductions in prices of petroleum products in Nigeria going forward, Mr Kenneth Korie, National President and Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of NOGASA, reportedly noted that the Association is 100 percent confident that the prices of petroleum products would crash as the countries refineries begin to function.

Korie, who blamed the current hike in prices of the products on importation, said rehabilitation and upgrade of the refineries in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri, which he said works on have reached advanced stages, remain the sure way of collapsing the prices of the products.

He stated: “Yes, of course there is hope. The GCEO of NNPCL has given assurance concerning that before the National Assembly. In all my talks, I have been hammering on the Port Harcourt Refinery to come on steam.

“I’m 100% sure that there will be a serious reduction in the price of petroleum products as soon as our four refineries, including the Dangote Refinery, come up.”

The NOGASA Chief added: “But we should not expect the price to come down like it was before, because of the high exchange rate, but it will be a bit lower than what it is now.”

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