By Etuka Sunday
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, yesterday disclosed that Nigeria could not continue with the payment of subsidy to oil marketers in the country and that there was need to deregulate the downstream sector.
Diezani who spoke at the ongoing Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja, said the deregulation would make the oil and gas sector more attractive for investors.
She however advised the federal government to ensure that palliative measures are put in place or to ensure that some policies are implemented before the deregulation.
Alison-Madueke, said the nation had been faced with fuel scarcity in the last two months and there seemed to be no end in sight in spite of assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. According to her, the current fuel scarcity was as a result of sabotage, diversion, hoarding, panic buying and rumours of imminent pump price increase.
She outlined challenges confronting the government to include perennial oil theft, pipeline vandalism and non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
“The PIB is still with the National Assembly and we hope that it will be passed very soon. However, we have been confronted with the menace of pipeline vandalism for decades and it has become much more prevalent in the last few years. In 2013 alone, all the major crude oil pipelines were severely damaged and vandalised at different points in time, the Bonny-Escravos line from the refinery was not spared either.
She said, in spite of these challenges, the country still maintained a stable 2.3 million barrels per day production of crude oil achieved in 2013.