By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives resolved to carry out a comprehensive audit of all funds previously made available for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the Port Harcourt Refinery and other refineries in the country and the key performance indicators therefrom.
The House equally move to examine the performance bond, assurance, warrantees and guarantees put in place for operating and maintaining the Port Harcourt Refinery Plants after commissioning while asking the Federal government to grant license and provide incentives for the building and construction of Modular Refineries by interested persons.
This followed a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Hon. Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa Ibom) on the need to ensure transparency and accountability on the rehabilitation exercise of the nation’s refineries which has been moribound for several years leading to importation of refined products into the country.
Leading the debate on the motion Hon. Luke drew attention of the lawmakers to the recent approval of the Sum of $1.5 billion, about N575 billion, for immediate commencement of rehabilitation work on the 32-year-old Port Harcourt Refinery at an estimated completion period of 44 Months (approximately – 4 Years) with a three components funding from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), budgetary allocations provisions, and Afreximbank.
He said the Refinery which has two components of the old plant commissioned in 1965 that can process 60,000 barrels (9,500 m3) per stream day, as well as the new plant commissioned in 1989, with an installed capacity of 150,000 barrels (24,000 m3) per stream day has been dormant for several years.
The Akwa Ibom lawmaker expressed concerned that even though the NNPC had allegedly spent about $25 billion in turnaround maintenance of refineries in the past 25 years, this latest prevailing development is coming after promises by the current administration that government would no longer spend on the facility.
According to him, previous rehabilitations notwithstanding, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) audit report revealed that three of the nation’s four refineries recorded N1.64 trillion cumulative losses between 2014 and 2018.
According to him, despite processing no crude oil in June last year, the three refineries still cost the country N10.23 billion in expenses, saying “the three refineries processed no crude because of the rehabilitation works being carried out on them.
“Therefore, there was no associated crude plus freight cost for the three refineries since there was no production, but operational expenses that amounted to N10.27 billion. This resulted in an operating deficit of N10.23 billion by the refineries.”
He stressed that in July 2017, major structural construction began on Dangote 650,000 bpd refinery with partial refining capability likely in 2022, and the same period that Rehabilitation would be carried out on the 210,000 bpd Port Harcourt Refineries.
He expressed concern over public uproar on this latest initiatives, adding that the voice of the National Assembly must be recorded to ensure judicious use of the proposed $1.5b Dollars considering facts that the facility has failed to perform after years of rehabilitation/repair/maintenance.