Top oil producer to embark on massive fuel importation

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Due to the Niger Delta crisis, the folding up of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the crippled situation of the country’s refineries, the Nigerian government has agreed to the massive importation of fuel to avoid shortage and queues at the filling stations as there is a pending zero production of petroleum products in the country.

After militants blew up the feeder pipeline in the refineries in Warri, oil refining in the region was shut down for about two years now. The Kaduna Refinery however will be shut down on November 5 for the mandatory turn around maintenance (TAM) planned for November 15, 2008, while the Port Harcourt Refinery has been affected by the long running power problem.

Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, the Group General Manager (Group Public Affairs) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has said that there is no cause for alarm because the Federal Government has put a comprehensive plan in place to increase the level of importation of products to meet local consumption need.

‘We have professional planners handling the issue of products in NNPC. The issue is very simple. Since the refineries are not producing at optimum at the moment, it means government must increase importation of petroleum products so that scarcity may not occur as speculated. When people speculate about scarcity that is the time vandals would break the pipelines to divert products and people would begin to store fuel that could burn their houses,’ he added.

The country’s petrol need is put at about 30 million litres per day and has been anticipated to hit 40 million in the next couple of years. Last month, the refining capacity had gone down to below 30 per cent because all the refineries were performing far below their installed capacities. At optimal capacity, all the refineries can refine 445,000 barrels per day of petroleum products.

Stakeholders in the downstream sector of oil industry had expressed fears that the inactive state of the four refineries, following pipeline breaks and epileptic power supply, could pave the way for severe scarcity of products

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