By Adewole Kehinde
I was elated after monitoring the signing of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for the Rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) on Tuesday, 6th April, 2021 by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari and the Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company, Ahmed Dikko and Vice President, Sub Saharan African Region of Tecnimont SpA, Davide Pelizzolam.
I must first of all commend the Federal Government under the Buhari’s administration on the approval of rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery.
We all know that the Port Harcourt Refinery is a National Asset with indisputable economic and national strategic importance.
It was primarily built to boost the nation’s petrochemical production and supply capacity and create a downstream value chain that will trigger economic development and increase national wealth.
Few have kicked against the rehabilitation and I know that the $1.5billion investment in the Port Harcourt refinery is a lot of money but it will be money well-spent. This is a thoughtful and serious-minded Government that enjoys popular support because it has a track record for transparency and accountability.
We should not forget that Nigeria enjoys a comparative advantage in the oil and gas sector and this justifies investments that will increase capacity and earnings. There is no doubt Nigeria’s economic fortune is already changing in the present and looking even brighter in the near and far.
The coming on stream of private refineries, including the modular variety, will increase domestic refining capacity and save billions of dollars in imports. More refineries mean competition. Competition brings down prices and swings the pendulum of power from producers to consumers.
The declared intention of the Buhari’s administration is to transform the bleeding asset into an active production hive.
By sheer size, outlay and product line, the Port Harcourt refinery will surely become a game-changer after rehabilitation.
Nigeria has the wherewithal to transform itself from a net product importer to a refining hub for the African trading bloc, an exporter of refined petroleum products and petrochemical values.
Refined products from government refineries added to Dangote’s and other modular refineries would all together transform Nigeria to Africa’s refinery capital, to make Nigeria dominate the Continent with refined products, that way strengthening our comparative advantage.
Granted that local refineries have a history of underperformance and losses, but that shameful reputation boils down to the lack of political will to get things right. This Government has demonstrated character and integrity in transforming the oil and gas sector, including reforming NNPC from a cesspool of corruption to an accountable and transparent public corporation.
Another good news that came out from the signing is that Rehabilitation of the Warri and Kaduna Refineries whose EPCIC contracts would be awarded in June 2021
The Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refinery Engr Ahmed Dikko is a man of integrity. He has been so transparent since assumption of office as he has opened the doors of the Refinery to Nigerians for inspection and facilities tours.
His accountability has earned him commendation from the National Assembly, NEITI and many civil society organisations associated with Transparency and Accountability across Nigeria.
There is no doubt that in 44 months, the entire work shall be delivered to Nigerians
For transparency and accountability purposes, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Media will be part of the monitoring process of the rehabilitation of the Refineries.
I therefore called on Nigerians to put their trust in this government’s integrity and rally behind the administration which is revamping infrastructures to create more jobs and diversify the nation’s economic base.
Adewole Kehinde is the Publisher of Swift Reporters and Public Affairs Analysts. He can be reached via: 08166240846, 08123608662.