The Federal Government on Monday said the 2019 target date for the stoppage of importation of refined petroleum products into the country was no longer feasible.
Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, disclosed this at the opening ceremony of a three-day Biennial International Conference for Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) organised by Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
He did not state the reason for the latest shift in the date, but assured that the country would explore avenues to stop fuel importation in 2020.
Last year, Kachikwu had insisted the country would stop importing refined petroleum products in 2019, noting that the country “must process rather than ship out oil.”
He added that he would walk away from his job if the 2019 target, which he claimed he set for himself, is not achieved.
“2019 is the target time…I target 2019. If I don’t achieve it, I will walk…I put the date and I will achieve it”.
He explained that part of his plans include reshaping the almost “comatose” refineries, which, he said, have been able to produce seven million litres since 2015.
He also hopes the construction of a new refinery for which an MoU has been signed would help achieve his target.
Speaking at the conference, Kachikwu said that there are strong indications that three modular refineries, out of 40 licences issued, will likely come on stream by end of 2019.
He told participants that “out of the 40 private licences issued to private investors to build refineries, only 10 have showed signs of progression.
“Out of the 40 licences issued, only 10 have shown progress by submitting their programmes and putting something on the ground.
“By end of 2019, we are assured that three private modular refineries would come on stream,” he said.
Kachikwu said that environmental sustainability is a key component of the Seven Big Wins initiative of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for the oil and gas industry.
He said that with the continuous inflow of statistics from the DPR highlighting the gory state of affairs on gas flaring and the failure of previous efforts to end the menace, the ministry had to come up with new initiatives to truly incentivise the flare-out policy by creating the new National Gas Policy.
According to him, the policy is aimed at ensuring that all currently flared gas, including those previously considered as non-technically feasible and non-commercially viable, are gathered and utilised for various economic utilities that are financially rewarding to the producers.
“Aggressive efforts are being made within the ambits of HSE sustainability to convert more gas to LNG through new and existing investors to retain Nigeria in its currently threatened fourth position as an LNG exporter.
“Our push for the increased investments in modular and conventional refineries is not only targeted at helping the nation benefit from its resources by providing products to the entire West African sub-region.
“But also essentially to stop the scourge of local unconventional artisanal refineries that have led to massive oil spills that have been hard to manage for nearly a whole decade.
“And, indeed, if anyone has new innovative ideas for improving the science of local refining initiatives, the DPR has been directed to listen to same, improve and license it, perhaps we may end up developing local technologies that can be exported, provided the HSE content meets acceptable international standard”, he added.
Speaking, the Director of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Modeccai Ladan, urged stakeholders to galvanise efforts at maximising Nigeria’s production and minimise wastage.
Ladan said that the oil and gas industry seems to be under a new threat, which is the renewed dislike and global war against fossil fuels and the quest for renewable and cleaner energy, purely for environmental considerations, chief among which is the concern about global warming.
According to him, “Over the years, the threat against fossil fuels had always been on paper, but today, it is more real than ever, based on some clear evidence I like to draw our attention to.
“Three among the biggest technology companies have made attempts at electric cars to replace gasoline and diesel engines.
“While the attempt of Apple may not have made it to production yet and that of Google was suspended after clearly successful street trials that of Tesla actually took the world by surprise.
“Not only did the first two releases of Tesla outsell sales forecasts, they were actually oversubscribed, and the demand keeps rising while new models are being added”.
Ladan said, “As we speak, some of the big international oil companies (IOCs) here seated are funding gigantic researches into alternative fuels, which include the use of cheap, common algae.
“As sweet as Nigeria’s crudes are renowned to be globally, we have recently lost our most valued customers and our gas buyers are themselves now competing with us in the same market space as suppliers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, all of these points to one fact, namely, if Nigeria is to continue to benefit from its vast petroleum resources, now than ever is the time to build sustainability into its prospecting, drilling, production, transportation and usage.”