Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Petroleum (oil), has said the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited should be held responsible if the deadline for rehabilitating Port Harcourt and Warri crude oil refineries fails.
The Minister disclosed this to journalists after the recent ministers’ retreat in Abuja.
Speaking on the completion of rehabilitation of the refineries and the December 2023 deadline, he stressed that NNPCL had assured him that phase 1 of the work would be delivered.
He added that other phases of the refinery rehabilitation would be achieved by next year.
He emphasized the need to boost crude oil production capacity in the country.
“Yes, the refinery’s rehabilitation, if you remember, was started by the previous administration and as part of the President’s directive. I have gone around all the refineries, and from what they have briefed me, Port Harcourt has three phases.
“So Phase 1 will be ready by the end of this year. I am not the one who is directly in charge of rehabilitation; it is the NNPCL, and they have told me, and I am holding them accountable.
“For the Warri refinery, they said Phase 1 will be ready by the end of the year. Phases 2 and 3 in Port Harcourt will be ready next year, and the whole Kaduna refinery will be ready by the end of next year.
“That is what they said, and I am holding them accountable for their words. I believe that those refineries, if we can achieve some level of rehabilitation by the end of this year, will also improve our domestic refining capacity.
“That’s why I said unless we produce sufficient quantities, even if the refineries are rehabilitated, there will be no feedstock. So, my challenge is to ramp up production to see how we can feed not only the big refineries but also the modular ones. These are the real employers of labour, and they will do the magic,” he said.
The Minister and NNPCL have consistently insisted that December 2023 is the deadline for the resumption of operation of Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited (PHRC) and Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC).