Local refineries may soon bounce back to production following an agreement reached between stakeholders in the Niger Delta area to allow contractors return to site.
The Acting Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Abubakar Yar'Adua, said at the weekend in Abuja that shortly, all the nation's refineries would begin to “work again.''
"We are glad some agreement has been reached within the Niger Delta and they have allowed our contractors to go in. Possibly, within weeks, we shall return to the field.
Maybe, we are very hopeful,'' he said.
Yar'Adua said that with the agreement reached with the stakeholders, youth militancy in the area and destruction of petroleum product pipelines would become history.
The GMD said: ``before the February 2006 vandalism of pipelines at the Shanomi Creeks, the Port Harcourt refinery was producing at 90 per cent installed capacity, Warri refinery was producing at 85 per cent.
Kaduna refinery was also operating at between 75 per cent and 80 per cent of installed capacity. That was after a lot of work and projects had been carried out at the various plants." Suddenly the Shanomi Creeks pipelines were vandalised. That line supplies crude to Kaduna and Warri refineries."The pipeline was blown up in more than 25 places within the Niger Delta area and since that February, product supplies became problematic.''
Yar'Adua said that the destruction did not affect just the NNPC pipeline, "there were other operators; Shell, NPDC, NGC, whose facilities were affected.''
He said: "If we fix the pipeline within one week, the refineries will come back on stream. That was why the NNPC stood vehemently against the sale of those refineries. "People said that the refineries were scraps and allowed the scavengers to pick them up. People with money wanted to take them away (refineries) free.''
For instance, Yar'Adua said, "the Port Harcourt refinery was built with $1.8 billion and NNPC has invested more than $700 million in it in the last three to four years. They wanted the two refineries out; one at $60 million and the other at $50 million.
"Also, there is this jetty facility, the only jetty that could take above 35,000 tonnes. That is strategic to this country because it supplies end products. This (jetty) could in future, become the export platform for products, at least to the West African sub-region.''
The NNPC chief executive queried: "We ask, why must we sell them off. That should not be. That is the whole idea of the NNPC. "If you look at the West African spectrum, all the countries are importing petroleum products, like Nigeria. Why can't Nigeria bail them out, and become a net petroleum exporter in the region, and possibly, even to Europe.''
Yar'Adua said that the country had the resources and the potential, stressing, "let us therefore use them. This is the NNPC's stand. We are not afraid of privatisation."What we are afraid of is the taking of assets from the public, call them scraps, deceive the public and sell them to friends. "That is not privatisation. People with money, who want more, should go to the Stock Exchange. That (stock market) would give every Nigerian the opportunity to buy or own.''
Yar'Adua also pushed for caution in the lay out of staff of government establishments in the pursuit of public service reform.
"The danger in sending people out much earlier in their career progression, those with the proficiency and skills acquired over time,'' he said.