PENGASSAN: FG Must Divest From Refineries After Rehabilitation

By Ogechi Okorie

Abuja – The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has said it would insist that the Federal Government divests its interests and allows the private sector to run them after their rehabilitation even as it has said it will not support the sale of the nation’s refineries.

Speaking at a security awareness programme organised by the union in Abuja on Friday, the PENGASSAN National President, Festus Osifo, stated that his association would carry out advocacy for private sector management of the refineries.

He stated that the government could also adopt the public-private model adopted for the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Ltd, in which the Federal Government holds minority 49 per cent shares against the 51 per cent by the private sector.

Osifo said, “PENGASSAN has never advocated that refineries be sold. What we have always advocated is that there should be a public-private partnership in such a way that the government will not be involved in the day-to-day running of the refineries.

“Why is the Federal Government not exploring the possibility of adopting the LNG model where the government holds minority 49 per cent while the private sector will take 51 per cent? That model has worked very well.”

Speaking on the ongoing rehabilitation of the refineries, he stated, “PENGASSAN welcomes the rehabilitation of the refineries. Our advocacy, once the rehabilitation work is complete, will be to call on the government to divest from the refineries and allow the private sector to run all of them.

“If we were to sell the refineries the way they are, they will be sold as scraps. If the government fixes the refineries and then divests, the money that government will get will be reasonable.”

He disclosed that while PENGASSAN had never opposed deregulation, it would not support a deregulation policy hinged on importation.

“That is why our position to support the rehabilitation of the refineries is justified. Nigeria will be ripe for full deregulation when the three refineries in the country are fully rehabilitated and are functioning under the efficient private sector.

“With the refineries coming on stream in the next few months and with the Dangote refinery coming on board as well, Nigeria will soon be self-sufficient in refined petroleum products,” Osifo said.

Osifo, a staff member of Total Nigeria Plc, argued that the could be amended to reflect the five per cent demanded by the oil-producing communities.

He added, “For us in PENGASSAN, three per cent of operating expenditure is a good place to start. Let the bill be signed to end the uncertainty that shrouded the petroleum industry. The host communities can then seek an amendment.

 “In my rough estimation gotten from the expenditure of the oil companies in the last one year, three per cent translates to about $45m (N18.5bn). The most important thing is how the fund will be administered.

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