The federal government yesterday disclosed plans to build three additional refineries in Kaduna, Warri and Port Harcourt.
Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu who dropped the hint at a town hall meeting organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in Kaduna also disclosed federal government’s intention to export petroleum product by the year 2019.
According to him, the federal government will provide free gas cylinders to every Nigerian which will be roll out next year with the aim of pulling Nigerians away from the use of kerosene.
Kachikwu who apologised to Nigerians for difficulties been experienced in terms of getting fuel in the country, said the refineries cannot work in top capacity “as long as we don’t have the foreign exchange to bring in the products, as long as the price of crude continue to slide.”
To solve the problems, the minister said, “More refineries have to be build, and the target is to build three more refineries to be located in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri taking advantage on the share facilities.”
“And if we do this, by 2018 if all our refineries are working we will drop importation by 60 per cent. And by 2019 if the four located refineries begin to work and am sure it will, we will actually begin to export petroleum product for the first time in this country,” said Kachikwu.
For the upstream sector where production has been climbing down, Kachikwu said, “Our target is to move production up to 2.3million barrel, but I am personally committed to 2.5 million barrel.”
Expressing confidence on ending the perennial fuel shortages, Kachikwu said, “The blowing of pipelines cannot drive us back, we are committed. The days of hopelessness have passed, the days of careless expenditure are passed, the days of corruption are going, and we are heading to the future where we can deliver a country we can all be proud of.”
Recalling the challenges he met on the ground, the minister said, “The refineries were not working when I was appointed in October. If I turn to the pipelines, they were not in existence. If I turn to the upstream, there no funding. So production was sliding. If I turn to the NNPC structure, there was massive issue of transparency that everybody talked about. And if I turn to what the future was to Nigeria, I saw the solution rather than hope.”
“So, I took over the mantle under this circumstances. But I was not discouraged because the President is committed to surmounting the problems.
“This is the first time we have two refineries working simultaneously in the last eight years.
“For the first time in 20 years we are working to restructure the NNPC.
“Do, I want to see the problems continue? No. There is a lot of improvement but there is a lot of work required. And in the next three months I assure you will see great improvement in terms of fuel supply.
“Most important, we need to begin to develop massive infrastructural support in this country.
“The pipelines must get to work, got to get investors to invest in them because we do not have the money to build them up,” he added.
Speaking further, the minister wondered why there was fuel queues in Kaduna, having supplied 80 truck loads of petroleum product to Kaduna in the last four days.