By Ayobami Adedinni
A former Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki has said that contrary to popular views, the construction of new refineries for the countries petroleum products may not end the instability in the downstream sector of the industry.
According to him, with appropriate policy direction, a lasting solution will be found.
Speaking at the 15th Annual Aret Adams Memorial Lecture Series themed “Refineries in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities in Lagos, Obaseki said the private sector should be involved in the management and operation of the nation’s refineries in order to ensure the desired efficiency.
In his words, “It is sad that this remains a topic of discussion in 2018 understandably so because of the challenges in that system which has compelled the country to massively import petroleum products.
“This is a situation that is not pleasing to me at all. Especially when one remembers the period 2001 to 2003, these same refining assets were run at operating levels that enabled the export of some of its products.
“We cannot be oblivious of the impact of availability of petroleum products on out political stability.
“It has seen to the removal of GMDs, Ministers and shaken the Federal Government therefore a total move away will also have its own implication.
“However, experience has shown that for operational efficiency and stability, the infusion of private equity in the policy structure, management and operations of these refineries is an imperative.
“Under the present government, the downstream sector has experienced a move towards price modulation.
“With the ongoing reforms and commitment, I believe that normalcy will be restored.
“Despite the fact that in the past, we were able to maintain stability, there is no doubt thstr with appropriate policy direction, a lasting solution will be found thus ensuring that we reach the desired destination of adequate petroleum product supply,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Aret Adams Foundation, (AAF), Egbert Imomoh said, “the problems around refining in Nigeria have been with us for many years. When they run, they are well below world standard of uptimes and because of this; we have depended on importation to meet the demands of a growing population.
“Many experts have provided many solutions ranging from the building of new large refineries to the establishment of Modular units,” he added.