The dormancy of Nigeria’s refineries despite several Turn Around Maintenance exercises, massive crude oil theft, and incessant scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, among others, in the past eight years, have blighted the performance of the current government in the oil and gas sector.

Irrespective of the abundant deposits of hydrocarbons across the country, particularly in the Niger Delta, Nigeria has been struggling to get an adequate supply of refined petroleum products. Operators told the correspondent that the emergence of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) as President in 2015, had raised the expectations of Nigerians, particularly after he (Buhari) decided to head the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources as minister.

“Another reason why Muhammadu Buhari was voted into power by Nigerians had to do with his past pedigree in the petroleum sector. Also, in this regime, he assumed office as a senior Minister of Petroleum Resources, because throughout his regime we only had a junior petroleum minister,” the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Ukadike Chinedu, stated.

But despite holding such strategic positions, the oil and gas sector recorded little achievements during the first and second tenures of Buhari, who is to hand over to the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, on May 29, 2023.

Nigeria has four refineries under the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited. They include the Port Harcourt Refining Company (two plants), Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company, as well as the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company. The government is currently working on the Port Harcourt and Warri refineries, with promises that the PHRC would begin operations this year.

It had made several such promises in the past, after spending billions of Naira on Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries. But despite these promises and heavy capital outlay, the refineries had failed to refine crude since Buhari became the President in 2015.

An analysis of production figures obtained from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission indicated that from January, February, March and April 2022, for instance, the country’s crude oil production (without condensates) were 1.39mbpd, 1.26mbpd, 1.24mbpd and 1.22mbpd respectively. In May, June and July 2022, the figures were 1.02mbpd, 1.16mbpd and 1.08mbpd respectively. But this dropped below 1mbpd in August to 0.97mbpd.

The Chief Executive of NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe, had stated in October 2022, that most international oil companies operating in Nigeria were to divest from onshore oil and gas assets due to poor earnings caused by the massive crude oil theft across the country.

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