By Yakubu Lawal
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resource, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Thursday, said that the liberalization of the downstream oil sector was the only way to stop subsidy payment in the industry.
Kachikwu made this known at the Ministry’s Presentation of three years key achievements and award to staff on Thursday in Abuja.
“ The only option we have to come out of this subsidy issue is the liberalization of the downstream oil sector. If we continue to subsidize products, we will continue to struggle as a nation.
“Investment is lacking and we are trying to build refineries, we are talking to financiers, we have found them but we are yet to agree on terms.
“Hopefully, by early next year, we will complete the financing agreement, that is one of the solutions to the problems,’’ he said
According to him, increasing the reserves is not the best option to solve the problem.
The minister said another way out was to get the refineries working and that was the reason government had supported efforts to ensure that Dangote Refinery was functional by 2020.
He noted that if that would be achieved, it would add about 600 million barrels to 400 barrels of oil processed by the nation’s refineries.
Kachikwu said that the Federal Government and the Government of Niger Republic were in talks on how to build a refinery and also for Agip to build one in Bayelsa.
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“We are also talking to oil companies that are into production to help meet the domestic obligations.
“NNPC is working hard to get investors to fund the revamping of the existing refineries and we hope to come to terms with them soon,’’ he added.
President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said that the last three years had been eventful in the oil and gas sector.
Buhari, who is also the Minister of Petroleum Resources, said the sector was faced with various challenges, including crude oil production, revenue generation, joint venture cash calls, subsidy payment, refinery rehabilitation and regulatory issues.
He said that the Ministry through the launch of the 7Big Wins in December 2016, had tried to tackle some of the challenges and brought about stability in the sector.
“We now have the Gas policy approved in June/July 2017 and regulation for the gas flaring in the country.
“I congratulate the leadership of the sector and all recipients of awards, government will continue to reward excellence.
“Consider this award as the beginning, continue to serve the country diligently,’’ he said
He urged all agencies in the sector to continue to work hard to bring investors for the growth and development of the sector.
“Oil and gas sector remains strategic and will remain relevant in a long time, do not relent in finding solutions to challenges in the sector,’’ he added
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 29 officers and staff of the ministry and agencies listed under the minister were recognised and given 2017 ministerial award for outstanding performance in their duties, exemplary character and service to Nigeria
The agencies include Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) , Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board ( NCDMB) and Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF).
Also, Petroleum products Pricing Regulatory Authority (PPPRA), Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) and Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) received awards.(NAN)