Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, yesterday said that the Federal Government is set to privatise the petroleum products pipeline network in the country to minimise the issue of perennial vandalism and ensure availability of products in the country next year.
Kachikwu, who stated this while touring products depots in Apapa area of Lagos, also said that by January 2016, any truck not tagged or fixed with trackers will not be allowed to load products.
According to him, this is to check diversion of trucks after loading, which is one of the causes of scarcity in Nigeria.
He said: “Ultimately, we are going to look at pipelines early next year in January to see how we can privatise the management of these pipelines and get them out of these perennial problems that they have because if we are pumping directly through these pipelines, some of these problems will be reduced.
“But like I said, all these problems added is not as big as the problems of the fact that the major participants are not bringing products. That is where the main problem is.”
The minister also said that the Federal Government is looking at refinery models to see how best to deal with the nation’s four refineries which have long been producing below installed capacity.
“In January, we are going to be looking seriously at refinery models. How do we deal with it? How do we bring people to assist us on technical and investment basis to get these refineries in much more consistent and permanent basis,” he said.
He explained that the 90-day timeline given to the refineries may be fruitful as Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries may be back on track by December.
He said: “I gave the refineries 90-day time frame and the 90 days end by December. I am told that the Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries may be be able to come back to help.”
The minister said efforts are being made to ensure that the subsidy claims are paid without further delay.
Kachikwu decried the sabotage and unpatroitic attitude of Nigerians who hoard or divert petroleum products to create scarcity and inflict pains on innocent citizens. According to him, about 26 cargoes with 30,000 capacity of petroleum products are being expected into the country in few days to come, so as to mitigate the effect of the current scarcity. He advised Nigerians not to embark on panic buying as the products will be sufficient for the December period and the new year. He emphasised that filling stations and depots that engage in sharp practises and product diversion must be sanctioned by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR.
“I am happy to be here today. Our concern is to get the products supplied to every nook and cranny of Nigeria and we should be doing it faster than the way we do it.
“December is a crucial month for us. I have asked DPR to do everything they could to enforce price and duly sanction anyone who engages in profiteering and hoarding.
“Depot owners must sell according to depot prices. This is Christmas period and we would ensure that the product is sufficiently supplied during this critical period.”
As regards the forthcoming Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC meeting, Kachikwu said he intends to have talk with Iran not to inject the 15 million barrels it threatened about some weeks back, so as to forestall further oil price slide.
“My first target as the OPEC President is to have talk with Iran’s Oil Minister to delay the country’s injection of over 1.5 million barrels till next quarter of 2016, so as to stabilise the price. I will also try to get Saudi Arabia to issue a statement that we are now going to take issues seriously. Their statement will affect stability in the market,” he said.