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No enough crude for P/Harcourt refinery, others – Minister

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, has once again expressed fear that the newly inaugurated Dangote Petrochemical Refinery, Port Harcourt Refinery, Warri…

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, has once again expressed fear that the newly inaugurated Dangote Petrochemical Refinery, Port Harcourt Refinery, Warri Refinery, Kaduna refinery and modular refineries in the country may not get enough crude oil locally for the production of petroleum products without increase in production in the sector.

Lokpobiri expressed this fear publicly for the third time in the last four months at the 2024 sector retreat for the ministry, held yesterday in Abuja with the theme: ‘Building Synergy for Enhanced Development in the Oil and Gas Sector.’

The minister said the retreat was convened to discuss how to achieve the targets and mandates set for the ministry by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the ministerial retreat held in November, 2023.

He said: “The first target is to see how we can ramp up production, and then we can meet our target in terms of increase in revenue, meet our obligation in the mid-stream and upstream.

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“One of the challenges I am afraid of is, if we finish fixing our refineries, we will be unable to get feed stocks. It will be very embarrassing that we finish Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Warri and Dangote and BUA and we don’t have feed stocks.

Lokpobiri had first raised the issue in November, 2023, while responding to the questions asked by the State House correspondents at the end of the three-day retreat at the Presidential Villa.

Also speaking at the recently concluded seventh edition of the Nigeria International Energy Summit held in Abuja in February, the minister said the Dangote refinery alone would need up to 650,000 barrels of crude oil daily, while the government-owned ones would gulp about 450,000 barrels.

According to him, Nigeria has in the last five years slowed down investments, saying “We are the lowest in the world, if you talk of investment to reserves ratio, Nigeria is 25 per cent. Nigeria is the least in the world. Between 2017 and 2022, if you look at the figures, Nigeria’s investments compared to our reserves are 25 per cent. There is something we are not doing right.”

‘Fiscal and regulatory framework needs to be competitive’

The Petroleum minister opined that the petroleum sector in Nigeria had the solutions to the country’s problems in the short-term, given that 90 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings are from the petroleum sector.

He said: “We are tackling the issue of insecurity, pipeline vandalism to see how we can attract investment on a sustainable basis, not just at the upstream but also in the midstream and downstream.”

He said Nigeria, endowed with over 208 Trillion Cubic feet (TCf) in proven gas reserves, should not be grappling with energy poverty.

Dangote looks elsewhere for supply

Our correspondent reports that the purchase of two million barrels of crude from the US by the Dangote refinery has raised questions about why a petro-state isn’t using its own supply to feed the giant plant.

Built to a capacity of 650,000 barrels a day, the Dangote oil refinery has long been seen as a welcome end to a legacy of sending the nation’s crude abroad for processing, and a reliance on costly foreign currency funded imports.

In addition to handling domestic feedstock, the recently inaugurated mega-facility is capable of processing various African crudes, along with supplies from distant sources such as the US and Saudi Arabia, as disclosed by the Dangote Group earlier this month.

Endless struggle

Daily Trust investigation has shown that Nigeria has continually failed to meet its daily production quota as set by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

According to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the country’s oil production declined from 2.51 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2005 to 1.77 million bpd in 2020.

NEITI reports also showed that 619 million barrels of crude valued at $46 billion were stolen in the period 2009-2020.

Recently, Nigeria’s OPEC quota was reduced from 1.742 million barrels per day to 1.38 million barrels per day. Yet, the country is still struggling to meet this quota as daily production output averaged 1.3million barrels per day.

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