The Federal Government has admitted that the only way to deal with the proliferation of illegal artisanal mining in the Niger Delta is by the private-sector-led establishment of modular refineries.
This was disclosed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at a stakeholders’ and project kick-off meeting on $600 million Ikwe-Onna Modular Refinery in Akwa Ibom State held at Ibom Hotel and Golf Resorts.
Osinbajo, represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Economic Matters, Mr. Iyamu Edobor, said such move would ease government’s involvement and to fast-track the bureaucratic processes surrounding issuance of approvals and licences.
The Vice President further said that having completed all the licensing processes and required approvals, everything was now set for the commencement of the actual construction of the 5,000 barrels per day Ikwe-Onna Modular Refinery.
He said that the project was being implemented in line with the Federal Government’s new vision for the Niger Delta, a comprehensive blueprint developed to ensure that the people of the region benefit from the wealth of their land.
Osinbajo said the stakeholders’ event was an opportunity to deepen the engagement between the government and the private sector and a platform to enable participants frankly express views and proffer suggestions that would result in more positive outcomes for the region.
He, therefore, commended the investors and promoters of the Ikwe-Onna Refinery on their willingness to partner with the Federal Government in the development of the Niger Delta; saying: “This is an investment that will no doubt create jobs and make a positive difference in the lives of the people of this area.”
However, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said the initiatives of establishing modular refinery were to eliminate the need of petroleum products importation and its pressure on foreign exchange earnings.
Kachikwu, represented by the Director of Oil Services in the ministry, Mr. Busari Kamaru, added that the modular refinery would create a robust domestic refining sector necessary to meet and exceed the full capacity of national demand.
Besides, he said establishing the modular refinery would address the proliferation of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta and the environmental degradation, among other reasons.
To achieve this, the minister said, government would facilitate crude commercial agreements from crude oil producers; facilitate ownership-joint venture investments with the host communities and state government.
He said government would support waiver on import duty rates on machinery, equipment and components for modular refinery as well as facilitate access to the Nigerian Content Intervention (NCI) fund managed by the Bank of Industry (BoI).