By Adewale Sanyaolu
Italian oil giant, Eni, has disclosed plans to revamp the Port Harcourt refinery as part of plans to deepen its involvement in Nigeria’s energy sector.
Eni’s Chief Executive, Mr. Claudio Descalzi, stated this when the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, met with top executives of the firm in Rome, Italy, yesterday. Descalzi, equally said that Eni’s local subsidiary, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, also plans to press forward with long-standing plans to double power generation capacity at the 480 megawatt Okpai Independent Power Plant (IPP)in Delta state.
On his part, Kachikwu urged International Oil Companies (IOCs) to invest in building refineries in the Nigeria, adding that IOCs should move beyond just the business of crude exploration to firmly supporting the vision of enhancing local production of petroleum products by building refineries in the country.
The Minister stated that the major plan of the Federal Government was to stop importation of petroleum products in the long term, stressing that, it would be expedient that every IOC invested in building a refinery with a çhain of distributions.
Kachikwu further clarified that the refineries could be built by the IOCs, and within a short period of time, investment in the venture could be recouped by direct sales model.
He reiterated that the investment was necessary now more than ever, considering the fact that Nigeria’s refineries which were built in the 1970s and 1980s are presently working at sub optimal levels and cannot sufficiently cater for local needs, hence the country is heavily dependent on product importation which creates instability in supply and pricing of products in the country.
‘‘The attempt by previous governments to privatise refineries and attract investment in refineries failed to yield the required result. The present government had promised to correct this by upgrading old refineries and building new ones, thus increasing local production capacity with an objective to reduce importation of petroleum products by 60 percent in 2018, and by 2019 to become a net exporter of petroleum products and value added petrochemicals.
The meeting is in furtherance of Kachikwu’s commitment to the full implementation of the #7BigWins; which is the roadmap that focuses on the short and medium term priorities to grow Nigeria’s Oil and Gas industry.
The meeting was rounded up with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ENI and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with ENI committing to the refurbishment of the Port Harcourt Refinery, building of Phase 2 of the Okpai Power Plant and further investments in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas industry worth over several billions of Dollars.
In continuation of the ongoing investment drive in Italy, the Minister will be meeting the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Economic Development of Italy to formalize this new trend of cooperation between Oil Majors and Nigeria and will also meet with 10 other Oil and Gas companies in Italy to further expand the partners of investments in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas sector.