THE Federal Government on Monday projected that by the first Quarter of 2024 Nigeria will put an end to the importation of petroleum products into the country.
The Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said by the first quarter of 2024 the rehabilitation of the Port-Harcourt refinery will be partly completed while the 650,000 barrel per day (bod) capacity Dangote Refinery will also be on stream.
Sylva stated this at the resumption of the”PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023)” organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), presenting the scorecard of his ministry, Sylva specifically said that the 60,000 bpd capacity refinery within the Port-Harcourt Refinery complex will be ready for production by Quarter one of 2024.
The Minister added that the Dangote Refinery, the largest single-train refinery in the world with investment of over $25 billion, will also be on stream before the end of 2023 in addition to several modular refineries projects in the country.
He therefore assured that with the combined production of the Port-Harcourt refinery, Dangote refinery and the modular refineries, Nigeria will end importation of petroleum products into the country.
The minister disclosed that to ensure local supply of the productions by the private refineries, the Federal Government deliberately took 20 percent equity stake in the Dangote Refinery.
The minister also said the Federal Government took 30 percent equity stake in each of the 5000bpd Walter Smith modular refinery in Ibigwe, Imo state and 10,000 bpd Duport Modular Refinery in Edo state among others.
He said that the government is currently addressing the challenge of access to crude oil being faced by the modular refineries.
The minister also reiterated the position of the Federal Government that subsidy regime is no longer sustainable.
According to him, the huge fund being spent on subsidy could be deployed to other developmental projects that would impact positively on many Nigerians.
He added that the removal of subsidy will attract more investment into the petroleum sector as many private people will be willing to invest in building refineries.
Meanwhile, Sylva also declared that he will be okay as a private citizen to buy a litre of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol at N300 per litre.
The minister affirmed that the cost of petrol in Nigeria is still low compared to what obtains in other countries of the world, adding that the product is already selling in parts of Nigeria at prices ranging from N179 to over N400 per litre depending on the location.
Sylva had been asked whether he would be comfortable to buy at N300 per litre if he becomes a private citizen just like most Nigerians who are presently bear- ing the high cost.
He said “If you ask me how I will feel as a private citizen to buy petroleum products at N300 per litre, frankly, if you ask me, I will say I won’t feel bad knowing the actual situation.
“If you compare Nigeria to other countries you would also understand; you also convert N300 that you are talking about to other currencies, then, you would probably understand.
“You know a lot of you travel to the United Kingdom, a lot of you travel to the US. How much do you buy petroleum products? Even in Saudi Arabia and in Arab communities that produce crude oil, convert it to what we are buying in Nigeria in terms of Naira, you will find out that we are not really doing too badly.
“But unfortunately, we are still in a subsidised regime which all of us know and we have come to a national consensus now that this subsidy is not sustainable. But we will get there. To- gether, we will get there.
“Because many times, you’re the first people to ask how we are able to sus- tain this, and then, when we want to take out the subsidy, the same people will protest.
“Sometime, we don’t understand what the average person wants. But what is desirable as far as we are concerned is to ensure that petroleum price is market- driven. That way, it will also drive a lot of investments.
“A lot of private sector investments will like to invest in this sector but under a subsidised regime, who is going to invest?
“If you build a refinery, how is your refinery going to make profit under a subsidy regime? But if you have a market-driven situation, you will see that a lot of investors will come and of course, there will be a lot of refineries and this problem of access to petroleum products will be a thing of the past.”
The former Bayelsa State governor also said that it is not realistic to expect the price of petrol per litre to fall to N40 as had been promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC), say- ing that it can only happen if the exchange rate of the dollar to naira is one to one.
When asked if the price could revert to N40, he ar- gued “I’ll answer yes. Why do I say yes? But this is dependent on if we are able to achieve within this period an improvement in the exchange rate.
“If we can achieve a $1 to N1 exchange rate, I believe we also be able to improve on the pricing.”