The federal government yesterday said the Port Harcourt Refining Company was still being test-run, adding that refined petroleum products from the plant would hit the market soon.
It disclosed this at a briefing in Abuja, as oil marketers expressed worry that the recent crash of the naira against the United States dollar might lead to a hike in the pump prices of refined petroleum products, reports The PUNCH.
They specifically wondered how the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited would continue to supply Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, at the current cost, considering the fact that one dollar now equals about N1,450.
Meanwhile, speaking about the Port Harcourt refinery during an event in Abuja, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, told journalists that the plant was still being test-run.
Recall that on December 21, 2023, the federal government announced the mechanical completion of rehabilitation work on Area-5 Plant of the Port Harcourt Refining Company in Rivers State.
It also stated that the first phase of the plant had been completed, as the facility would start refining 60,000 barrels of crude oil after the Christmas break. This, however, did not happen.
But when asked about the status of the facility on Wednesday, Lokpobiri replied, “The mechanical aspect of the Port Harcourt refinery has been completed and they are still test-running. Yesterday the MD of the refinery was here because I had to ask him what was going on.
“These were projects that are very fundamental to our survival economically, and I believe that very soon products will start coming from there. But there are several components in that gigantic structure that will take time mechanically to finalise for products to start coming.
“Recall that the Dangote refinery was commissioned by the Buhari administration but they haven’t started releasing products because it takes time. So I believe that the Port Harcourt refinery will soon come and the Warri refinery is in top gear.”
The minister further stated that “if you ask me, in the next few months we would have tremendously increased our refining capacity. I was reading a report that if we refine our products here, we will get 18 times more in terms of value addition.
“So I believe that very soon the Port Harcourt refinery and the other refineries will all come on stream. This is together with our programme on modular refineries where we are giving some people 5,000 barrels, 10,000 barrels and 30,000 barrels.”
He noted that with the summation of all these, Nigeria would be able to solve its energy needs and also supply refined products to West Africa.
On the cost of PMS, going by the crash of the naira against the dollar, the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, stated that the price of the commodity might rise.
“We commend the NNPC for being able to provide PMS, but the truth is that the rise in dollar is affecting every commodity in Nigeria and PMS might not be an exemption any time soon. So it is likely that we may see a hike in its price,” he stated.