By: Ifeanyi Izeze
Barringunforeseen circumstances, President Muhammadu Buhari, and his
Nigeriencounterpart, Mahamadou Issoufou will in few weeks (days) time sign
a Memorandumof Understanding (MoU) on the planned 100,000 barrels per day
(bpd) refinery tobe located on the Katsina border with Niger Republic.
Is it notinteresting that Nigerians would have completely been oblivious
of this jointproject if not that the Minister of State for Petroleum
Resources, IbeKachikwu, made a podcast on “the refineries and local
production capacity,”where he disclosed that the Niger-Nigeria refining
relationship is one projectin Nigeria’s Greenfield Plan being pursued by
the Federal Government.
As said by theMinister on the podcast, “We have the private sector
relationship to build100,000bpd refinery there. Both governments have
largely reached a Memorandumof Understanding (MoU). In July, the two
Presidents will be in Nigeria to sign-off on the negotiated basis of this
relationship, and then, the private sectorwill be asked to put in the
funding that they’ve indicated that they have.
“We are almostconcluding the MoU to build the pipeline from Niger to
Nigeria since the outfitwould be utilising Niger crude though of slightly
lesser quality thanNigeria’s. So, we have agreed to build the pipeline to
the border town betweenNiger and Nigeria, which is in Katsina State.”
Is thereanything wrong with the brains of our people in government as
manifested in theway they reason and the decisions they make? If the
Katsina-Niger refinery isgoing to be purely a private-sector initiative,
why is our President who alsodoubles as Nigerian Minister of Petroleum
Resources and the Nigerien Presidentsigning an Agreement on behalf of
their countries? Is the MoU not supposed tobe between the private
investors or between them and Nigerian government on onehand and Nigerien
government on the other?
Why is our NNPCinvolved in the project? Is the NNPC the technical partner
or a joint venturepartner? So many questions! If the private investors
have agreed that they havethe money for the project, one would have
expected them to be asking Nigeriajust for the license to build the plant
at the Katsina border. Also they shouldon their own work out a crude oil
supply agreement with Niger Republic. Whydrag our president into this
purely private initiative as we were told?
What does itmean for the Nigerian president and his Nigerien counterpart
to sign an MoU ona refinery project, is it not that the two countries are
jointly executing theproject? You see where the deceit lies!
Simply becausewe could no longer take the Nigerien crude into our own
refineries as wassecretly pushed for the Kaduna Refinery by the operators
of NNPC, so we willbuild a 100, 000 barrels per stream day refinery near
them. Is it not clearthat there is an outright conflict of interests in
this arrangement with NigerRepublic? Why is it that people in
leadershipposition in this country find it very difficult to learn and
Availability ofcrude oil feedstock to our three refineries as result of
breaches on the supplylines is only a meagre part of the problem why our
refineries have remainedcomatose all these years. From all indications
now, there are people bothinside and outside the NNPC who are working
assiduously to ensure therefineries don’t work at all. Ofcourse how do you
expect them to allow therefineries work when few people are raking –in
billions of dollars on monthlybasis from the crude-for-product swap
arrangement that has forced the countryto depend almost 100 percent on
Severally it hasbeen said that the security agencies may not be telling us
all they know aboutbreaches on our crude oil supply lines which has been
alleged to be sponsoredmost times by different interest groups including
people in the NNPC, oilmajors, crude-for-product contractors, and then
buyers of stolen Nigeriancrude.
The question is:whose responsibility is it to thoroughly investigate the
allegations ofsabotage by people in and around government and put measures
to checkmate them?Is it not these same people who are going to Niger to
build refinery under thepretence of finding solutions to the perennial
scarcity of petroleum productsin the country?
If the Presidentand his NNPC can hurriedly package this Niger Republic
deal, why has it becomeimpossible to also get the same private sector
investors to cite refineries inareas within Nigeria where they may not
even need over 1000 kilometres of crudeoil pipelines? You see that there
is something not very straight in NigerRefinery deal!
By the way, youare citing a 100, 000 barrels per day refinery with the
hope of collectingcrude oil feedstock from Agadem Oilfield in Niger
Republic that as at todayrecords only 20, 000 barrels per day as its peak
production with the hope oframping it up to 60, 000 barrels per day (this
is hopefully and with hugeinvestment in further development of the
oilfield). At present, the entirety ofoil extracted from the Nigerien
Agadem field is sent to the Chinese-runrefinery in Zinder which has not
been able to even run at 70 percent of the 20,000 barrels per day
installed capacity because of availability of crudefeedstock and other
technical and economic issues.
Although this may sound like aconspiracy theory, from all indications,
what is unfolding may be part of theinitial plan by those that built the
Kaduna refinery in 1985 to run on importedcrude oil grades for its
processes. Those who know would confirm that in thefirst instance and for
whatever reasons, the Kaduna Refinery was not even designedto process
crude oil from the Niger Delta. On the orders from those who were incharge
then, Chiyoda Chemical Engineering and Construction Company (now
ChiyodaCorporation) of Japan designed the Kaduna refinery to process
heavy/paraffiniccrude oil grades alien to the light and sweet grades that
abound in ourcountry.
Is it not clearer why the NNPCrecently proposed an almost 2000kilometre-
pipeline to collect crude oil feedstock from the Agadem oilfield inNiger
Republic for the Kaduna Refinery that has at best remained a
mere“kporfire” cooking stove?
Except the federalgovernment convinces Nigerians that the “Nigerien
alternative” represents thefirst phase of similar Greenfield
consideration, it will be very difficult totell anyone that such
initiative is not clannish and with some clandestinemotives.
Shamefully, ourgovernment and our NNPC are going to build a refinery at
the Katsina Border forNiger Republic justas Nigeria’s existing three
refineriesare performing at a combined installed capacity utilisation of
less than 10percent. Up Nigeria!
The country’srefineries recorded an operating deficit of N11.89 billion,
in the firstquarter of this year according to the NNPC March 2018
report. The reportattributed the loss to “the refineries’ downturn with
high cost of operations.”
How can our leadersbe making pronouncements and taking decisions that give
credence to allegationsby some disgruntled Nigerians that certain people
in government came to pushclannish agenda? Am just wondering! God help
(IFEANYI IZEZE writes from Abuja: email@example.com; 234-8033043009)