The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has said replacing illegal refineries with modular refineries was part of government’s wider plan to develop the Niger delta region.

Kachikwu said this on Monday at the 10th edition of the annual Nigerian Association of Energy Economics (NAEE)/International Association of Energy Economics (IAEE) conference in Abuja.

According to him, the Federal Government and operators of illicit oil refinery outfits in the region have held their first tranche of meetings to review and adopt an implementation template.

Kachikwu, who was represented by Dr Bello Gusau, the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), said the initiative would be carefully implemented with greater considerations to the environment of the region.

“In the past few weeks, we have had open and prospective discussions with some of the refiners and government is assiduously working to ensure that this initiative is carefully implemented without destruction to the environment.

“This will not only provide a legal job and source of income for the populace, but also contribute to our national productivity,’’ he said.

The Federal Government had disclosed plans to restructure activities of illegal oil miners in the Niger Delta into consortia.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had also said if well coordinated, the refineries could produce up to 1000 barrels of crude oil daily.

The immediate past President of the IAEE, Mr Gurkan Kumbaroglu, lauded the activities of the NAEE in Nigeria, saying the “association is well-disposed to helping development efforts in Africa’’.

The President of the NAEE, Prof. Wunmi Iledare, speaking to newsmen on the sideline of the event, said the legislature should have passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) by now.

Part of the Bill seeks to promote transparency and accountability in the petroleum industry and create a conducive business environment for operators in the petroleum industry.
Iledare said Nigeria could have avoided the troubles of cutting an exit deal to pay off its Joint Venture (JV) cash-call debts to its International Oil Companies (IOCs) if it had passed the PIGB.

The government, in Dec. 2016, had agreed on a deal with IOCs to pay off discounted cash-call debts to them on the condition of incremental oil production.
Iledare said: “let me resolutely speculate that if the industry reform has been vigorously pursued by the Federal Government, the need to cut the cash-call exit deal to ameliorate the cash-call toxin in the Nigerian economy and oil and gas industry performance over the years would have been circumvented”.

“Thus, the need to pass the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill cannot be over-emphasised.

“It is the key, in my opinion, to addressing the apparent lapses and weaknesses of the Nigeria oil and gas industry governance within the context of global best practices.

“That the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill has undergone the third reading in the Senate is certainly a welcome development’’.

In his goodwill message, Mr Victor Shidok, the Immediate Past Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), assured indigenous Nigerians who have ideas for alternative energy of government’s support.

In another goodwill message, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru, lauded the NAEE for its contribution to the economy and urged it to “provide workable solutions’’ to government’s heavy dependence on oil. (NAN)