By Abiola Olawale (The New Diplomat’s SouthWest Bureau)
The Federal Executive Council(FEC) on Wednesday approved the sum of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery in Rivers State.
Finance experts project that at an exchange rate of N410 to a dollar, the approved sum of $1.5 bn might statistically equate to about N615bn.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who presided over the 38th virtual meeting, on Wednesday gave his nod to the rehabilitation of the refinery with the largest refining capacity in the country.
According to energy experts, the Port Harcourt Refinery has the highest refining capacity in Nigeria. Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of State Petroleum Resources, announced the FEC approval during a press briefing at the State House after the FEC meeting in Abuja.
He stated that the rehabilitation will be carried out in three phases, which will take up to 44 months.
According to him, the first phase of the rehabilitation will be completed in 18 months, the second phase will be completed in 24 months, while the final phase will be completed in 44 months.
Chief Sylva, a former governor of Bayelsa State also disclosed that the contract has been awarded to Technimount SPA, an Italian company.
In his words: “The ministry of Petroleum Resources presented a memo on the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery for the sum of $1.5billion, and that memo was approved by council today. So we are happy to announce that the rehabilitation of productivity refinery will commence in three phases. The first phase is to be completed in 18 months, which will take the refinery to a production of 90% of its nameplate capacity. The second phase is to be completed in 24 months and the final stage will be completed in 44 months. I believe that this is good news for Nigeria.”
Sylva assured that the maintenance which is a recurring challenge for the nation’s refineries was elaborately discussed in council, adding that professionals will be employed to manage the refinery after the rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, Sylva, who was speaking at a different venue, assured that Nigerians should expect full deregulation of fuel price, as the Buhari-led administration is committed to making the fuel price cheaper.
The minister made this known aduring the opening of the 56th Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigeria Mining and Geoscience Society (NMGS), at the University of Ibadan.
According to him, the petrol pricing will be fully deregulated before end of this year.
In his words: “We have been talking about deregulation for decades. Unfortunately, we have not succeeded. We have succeeded in deregulating some products. Kerosene has been fully deregulated; diesel has been fully deregulated. But deregulation of PMS (petrol) has continued to elude us. We expect that this year, we will be able to achieve that. But, before we do that, we want to apply the principle of tolling the roads. Before you toll a road, you are expected to give an alternative. So, what we want to do for Nigerians is to give a credible and cheaper fuel as an alternative before we fully deregulate and we believe we will be able to achieve this later this year. And this, of course, is going to be a responsible way of also maintaining our environment.”