Senate, Oando clarify Port Harcourt refinery rehabilitation

Niger Delta youths vow to resist concession

The Chief Executive Officer of Oando Plc, Mr. Wale Tinubu, yesterday appeared before the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources to explain his role in the privatisation of Port Harcourt refinery.

In a statement to the Chairman of the committee, Kabir Garba Marafa, he said: “No mandate for the concession, sale, equity transfer or privatisation of the Port Harcourt refinery or any of the nation’s refineries has been signed with Oando.

“As a crude exporter and supplier of refined products to the country, it is intuitive and patriotic for us to be interested in the refurbishment and upgrade of the refineries. Our proposed participation as a local partner in this effort is an opportunity to drive the country forward and accelerate the process to see product security realised in this dispensation.”

Tinubu explained that Oando shares the vision of the Federal Government to become a petroleum product self-sufficient country in the short to medium term and ultimately be a net exporter.

He added that the Port Harcourt refinery remains a national asset, under the full control of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Senate had initiated the hearing, following misleading reports that the refinery was due to be sold through a privatisation or concession exercise with Oando and Eni as the preferred consortium.

Initial findings from the Upper Legislative Chamber show that the NNPC is still at a preliminary stage of information gathering regarding the proposed refurbishment.

The NNPC’s Chief Operating Officer, Aniebor Kragha’s, had stressed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive has always been a non-privatisation of the country’s refineries.

Tinubu said, in a bid to strengthen international relations, ENI (an Italian oil and gas company), committed to support the rehabilitation of the country’s refineries, specifically the Port Harcourt refinery in which it has a long history of technical involvement.

At the Senate hearing, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Mineral Affairs, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu commended Oando’s willingness to participate in the rehabilitation process, saying: “We are very grateful for any company or companies that has shown an interest in the refinery rehabilitation efforts.”

“What has been agreed upon at this stage is the opportunity to establish a framework for the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery, which will then go through appropriate regulatory approvals, where necessary,” Tinubu said.

Meanwhile, youths from the Niger Delta region yesterday protested the alleged moves by the Federal Government to concession the Port Harcourt and Warri refineries, without the consultation of their people.

The youths, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum (PANDLEAF), said the Federal Government has been insincere with the region, describing the moves to concession the refineries as “extremely provocative.”

The National President, Famous Daunimegha and the Secretary, Michael UkangaEkpo, in a statement warned that concessioning the two refineries in the Niger Delta region should not be mentioned without including the Kaduna refinery.

They, however, called for the fast tracking of the modular refineries announced by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, when he visited the Niger Delta region.

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