The federal government may consider selling the Port Harcourt refinery after the planned rehabilitation which is put at the cost of $1.5 billion, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva has revealed.
Speaking in an interview on Channels Television programme ‘Politics Today’ monitored by Daily Independent, the Minister who was responding to questions on why the federal government chose to repair the refinery after several failed efforts in the past, said it is improper to sell a refinery that is not working.
He also added that when functional, the refinery will not be managed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) but will be handed to a professional operations and management company to manage its affairs.
In his words:
“I know there has been discussion about selling the refineries. There was actually a time that the refineries was actually sold and then that decision was also reversed. in the history of the refinery, a lot has happened”.
“The thinking is that you do not sell a refinery that is not functioning. It is not every sale that led to success. For example, we sold Ajaokuta Steel plant but it did not make any difference. The people who bought it only tried to cannibalised it and then try to sell it off”.
“We believe that if you sell a refinery that is not working, the people who buy it might just decide to cannibalise it and then sell it off. And then what are you going to say since you have sold it?”
“What we want to do is to ensure that the refinery is working first before we take that decision on what step to take next. That is why we are going to fix this refinery. Let this refinery work efficiently at 100 percent”.
“Then this time, we are going to get a professional Operations and Maintenance ( O&M) company to run the refinery. This time it is not going to be NNPC or government that will run it after we rehabilitate it”.
“At that point, when the refinery is working at full capacity, the government will then take a decision what to do with it; either to sell it off to private sector or to privatize it. Whatever government wants to do with it will be done after the rehabilitation but let us ensure that we are able to give Nigerians a functional refinery first” .