By Adedapo Adesanya
The House of Representatives has called on the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to review the status of each of the licences issued to 38 modular refineries.
The lower chamber on Tuesday called on the state oil company to revoke and re-issue them to competent and reliable operators.
The House resolution followed the adoption of a motion moved by Mr Alex Egbona, where he recalled that sometime in 2018, the federal government, through the NNPC, issued 38 licences to indigenous firms to set up modular refineries in different parts of the country.
He said the decision to approve the setting up of the modular refineries was to prepare grounds for the full deregulation of the downstream sector and to checkmate the incessant cases of crude oil theft and piracy in the oil-producing communities and the high seas.
The lawmaker added that the approval for setting up the modular refineries was in response to the outcry that government should intervene and address the perennial problems that were plaguing the oil and gas industry in the country.
Mr Egbona stressed that the modular refineries, when operational, would be expected to close the gap of importation of petroleum products for local consumption.
The lawmaker pointed out that out of the 38 licences issued, only two have been reported to be at advanced stages of completion preparatory for commencement of production.
He stressed that the inability of the modular refineries to commence operations has continually forced the federal government to import petroleum products and sell to consumers at subsidized rates.
He noted that with the deregulation of the downstream sector and the final withdrawal of subsidy, Nigerians are being compelled to pay more for petroleum products.
Mr Egbona noted that the COVID–19 pandemic was already having an effect on the citizens and the additional burden of paying more for petroleum products would make the already bad situation worse.
He stated: “The essence of issuing the licences have been defeated as the beneficiaries have not been able to put them to proper use which is to refine petroleum products for local consumption and export.”
The House, therefore, urged the “NNPC to review the status of each of the licences, revoke and re-issue them to competent and reliable operators.”
The House also advised the NNPC to give technical assistance to those who have started construction work to enable them to commence operation to meet up the demands of Nigerians and also mandated its Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream) to ensure implementation.
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