The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has said Nigeria has saved over $287 million from the turnaround maintenance (TAM) of the Port Harcourt Refinery, Eleme.
Kachikwu made the disclosure shortly after an inspection tour of the refinery ON Wednesday.
He said foreign companies had requested to carry out the TAM at a cost of $297 million but the NNPC used its manpower and local oil servicing firms to achieve the maintenance at the cost of less than $10 million.
He said: “The asking price by the original refinery builder was $297 million. The disaster with that was that they were not professionals and they were not ready to give us guarantees. What we have done so far is under $10 million.
“Obviously, had we consistently done this overtime, we would not have the sort of nightmare that we have had today. Whatever it takes, we are going to raise money; we are going to raise some vessels to give them what they need to run this place and run it efficiently.”
He said he was not ready to apportion blames for the failure to carry out TAM on the refinery for 25 years, but stressed that he was looking forward to getting solution for the nation’s oil industry.
He expressed the desire of the federal government to ensure that the nation’s refineries operate at their optimum capacity, insisting that the nation would continue to import refined products as the refineries cannot meet local demand even if they work at their installed capacities.
“We said that we like to tie the delivery of crude to the refinery to make sure the FCC (Fluid Catalytic Cracking) Unit work, otherwise, we will be wasting very vital resource. Kaduna like you know came up and we had a little bit of hiccups yesterday, but it is still being worked on and it should come back on stream quickly. Port Harcourt is getting ready to get their FCC powered.
“We’ve got to realise that these are refineries that have not been given serious maintenance for over 15 to 18 years and what I saw today was quite amazing with a lot of energy from people who are locally based here doing their best to find an alternative solution.
“Otherwise, there would have been a very long gestation period in ordering parts for these refineries. What is important is that people are motivated and energised; they are focussed. They understand my timelines that we need to get these things to work; we need to support them whichever way we can.
“I am impressed with the energy and the effort that is going on there; I am impressed with the momentum. I think that if we continue on this part, we should see the refineries working near full blast very soon. Until then, we are going to manage our resources, how we deliver crude and what we need to do in terms of reducing contractual times to enable them get the parts they need to get the refineries working. I am happy with what I saw today; we still have some ways to go, but we are on the right part,” he said.
On the timeline for the refineries to go full blast, Kachikwu said: “From what I see, within the next 60 days, we should at least get two out of the three FCCs working. There are still some components that need to be tinkered with here and there and there would be stoppages while you are doing that? Certainly.
“But in a full capacity, they will be doing something like 16 million to 20 million litres of PMS. Our national consumption is within the range of between 30 million and 40 million litres; still to be determined. In their 40 per cent to 50 per cent capacity, we are probably looking at half of that. So, we will always continue to import some element of that.
“If we continue on this chain and if I can get them every month to have incremental values; we get at six, then we get at eight, then we get at 10, and set ourselves a 90-day spectrum to see where we are, that will be progress. Anything that I produce locally and don’t have to import is a plus.”
He ruled out any plan by the federal government to sell off the refineries, stating that instead, government might consider joint ventures.
“There will never be a plan to sell the refineries. There might be a plan to have joint venture investors, but that is going to depend on how the refineries are going to work on their own. Obviously, we are going to be looking at all options to make the refineries 100 per cent efficient,” he said.
In terms of crude supply, he said: “You know we have cancelled the crude supply by vessel contracts. We are going to use some stop-gap measures to use our own internal supplies from now till when the new contracts are looked at.
“The intent is to have the pipelines work. I am very focused on the pipelines; it is no longer good enough excuse that people are sabotaging the pipelines. We have got to deal with those sabotages and we are going to go extremely tough on this.
“If we can make the pipelines work, we get crude supply and get higher volumes easier. We are on the verge of bringing in army corps of engineers to help with pipeline protection. We should be looking at both aerial surveys by helicopters, surveys by the military and obviously naval surveys as long as we can.
“But we have to also engage the communities because at the end of the day, how all these we have planned are going to be functional will depend on how well we relate with the communities. Should the pipelines work, there is no alternative to it.”
On Warri Refinery that is shut down, Kachikwu said: “When you have a 30-year-old car, you are going to continue to shut it and repair and make it work. It is shut down, we are going to repair it and it is going to come back on stream. At some point, investments would be required to put in a sort of change processes.
“What our engineers are doing locally is fabricating as much as they can the replacement tools. We are working on it and the encouraging thing is not whether it is shut down; it is whether our guys are ready to get it up.
“On whether we can meet all our local production needs, probably not until we begin to put new refineries in place in addition to what we have. But if I can get them to near 100 per cent capacity for each of them, I would have taken away 50 per cent of the importation dynamics in this country. And that is what the focus should be.
“So, I am as frustrated as Nigerians are in terms of up, down, get up and shut down and all that stuff. This is the price you pay when you do not invest in turnarounds for so long a time.”
He however said he would not allow scarcity of petroleum products in the country.
“I will import as much as I need. I will try and refine as much as I can and I will keep looking at those comparative dynamics and see where I land. I certainly would hope that someday in my tenure, we would stop importing. But it is not going to happen on a 100 per cent basis unless you build new refineries,” he said.
Kachikwu further disclosed his intention to break into three the corporation’s subsidiary, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), in continuation of the ongoing restructuring exercise.
NNPC in a statement from its Group General Manager Public Affairs, Ohi Alegbe, in Abuja stated that the move is part of a bid to ensure lean, efficient and profitable operations at the corporation.
The statement quoted Kachikwu to have made this disclosure during his official tour of the Okrika Jetty and the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited (PHRC).
Kachikwu, the statement explained, noted that the PPMC would be split into a pipelines company that would focus primarily on the maintenance of the over 5,000 kilometres pipelines of the corporation, a storage company that would maintain all the over 23 depots and a products marketing company that would market and sell petroleum products.
He said that the move would ensure that the right set of skills are rightly positioned and the number of leakages in terms of pipelines break and products loss are reduced to the barest minimum.