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Oil Experts Want Quick Action On Refineries

Sopuruchi Onwuka

Indigenous technocrats in the petroleum industry have demanded that the federal government activates measures that would immediately fix the nation’s refineries to save the economy from intractable fuel supply crisis.

They also called on government to drive rapid development of the midstream and downstream segments of the sector in order to optimize the value of the resources.

The speakers drawn from all professional associations in the petroleum industry at a workshop to lay agenda for the government, chorused on the need for government to reverse the nation’s embarrassing paradox of intractable fuel scarcity by harnessing and optimizing internal capacity for refining.

The event was hosted in Lagos by the National Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), and featured invited participants from Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Societry (NMGS) and government regulatory agencies.

Chairman of the Nigerian Council of the global Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Mr. Emeka Ene, who spoke on “Quickwins For Energy Sector Reforms,” called on government to drive the ongoing rehabilitation of the local refineries to conclusion even it plans to sell the plants afterwards.

He traced the history of activities in the country’s coastal waters and pointed out that the trend and nature Nigeria’s exports have not changed from raw resources to manufactured products in the past 100 years.

According to him, Nigeria’s exports which have shifted over centuries from slaves, raw materials to crude oil have remained revenue targeted without full resource value for the local economy.

From slaves to ground nuts, cotton, palm oil, cocoa and crude oil, he observes, the country has continuously shipped out factors of economic growth opportunities to other countries in exchange for resource revenue.

He decried the current reliance on imported petroleum products to meet the country’s internal fuel needs as a regrettable paradox in the fate of a nation that holds the reputation of key supplier of crude oil to the global energy markets.

Mr. Ene, who is also the Chairman of Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), pointed out that time has come to take realistic approach to tackling illegal refining enterprises in the country, saying adoption of modular and micro-refining models in the Niger Delta would bring the illegal refineries under technical regulation, mitigate spills and sundry environmental impact, address issues of substandard products from the illegal refineries, and contribute significantly in meeting internal fuel demand.

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