Punch (Port Harcourt) - The Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited will start refining crude oil and will contribute to petroleum product availability by the end of this month, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has said.
It also assured that on or before the end of this week, the scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol, will cease across the country.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Joseph Dawha, disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday after inspecting some petrol stations in the city.
He said, "Presently, the refineries are undergoing rehabilitation and we are undertaking what we call a new strategy to carry out the turn around maintenance on them. Basically, what this means is that we are carrying out phased implementation of rehabilitation of the refineries.
"We are taking the refineries unit by unit and carrying out turnaround maintenance on them. So in other words, the maintenance are being carried out on the run and we started a couple of months ago.
"Most of the refineries have advanced to a certain stage where they will be able to operate very soon. For example, the Port Harcourt refinery, which has reached an advanced stage, will start receiving crude by end of this month and then of course will start contributing to the available products in the country."
NNPC has four refineries, two in Port Harcourt, and one each in Kaduna and Warri. The refineries have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day. A comprehensive network of pipelines and depots strategically located throughout Nigeria link these refineries.
Dawha said the maintenance exercise on the refineries were spontaneously taking place in all the facilities.
He said, "At the end of the target 18 months, most of the refineries would have been rehabilitated to such level where they can actually process crude optimally to make contributions to the availability of products in the country.
"I've heard some people say we have neglected the refineries, no, farther from that. We hope that at the end of the exercise, these refineries will be fully back into operation and we will minimise some of the problems we have with importation."
He explained that why the refineries were not running was a conscious decision, adding that "we decided that if the refineries were not in good state to process crude for maximum gain, then there was no point sending crude to the refineries.
"Therefore what you do is to try and fix it so that by the time you start processing the crude, you will get real value for the crude you are sending to the refineries. We are satisfied with the level of work that has been carried out so far in the Port Harcourt refinery, so that if you start processing crude now you will get real value."
The Managing Director, Pipelines Product Marketing Company, Mr. Haruna Momoh, stated that the NNPC imports 50 per cent of petroleum products into the country.
He noted that when the ongoing rehabilitation and turn around maintenance of the Port Harcourt refinery is completed in July, 2015, the plant would run at 80 per cent installed capacity and produce five million litres of petrol on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, Dawha called on marketers to start importing PMS, stressing that the distribution challenge of PMS was largely due to the non-involvement of marketers, a development which resulted in the scarcity nationwide.
The NNPC GMD said as of Thursday, the PPMC had a stock level of 1.1 billion litres, representing 27 days sufficiency, and noted that the stock excludes volumes with confirmed delivery dates within the next couple of days.
"In the last five days, we have brought into Abuja 428 trucks of Premium Motor Spirit, averaging 85 trucks daily, to address the petrol requirement in Abuja and its immediate environs," Dawha added.