The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) on Thursday attacked members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), stressing that members of the union destroyed refineries in the country.
National Operations Controller of IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, who spoke on TVC, explained that since members of the union ran down the facilities in the country, they do not have the moral right to dictate the direction in the oil and gas industry.
PENGASSAN had on Tuesday called on the government to ensure the speedy rehabilitation of Nigeria’s refineries, stressing that this would help ease the hardship that could arise from the halt of fuel subsidy.
PENGASSAN’s President, Festus Osifo, while speaking with journalists at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the association in Abuja explained that fuel subsidy removal in absence of any functional domestic refinery, was unsustainable.
But Osatuyi noted that PENGASSAN contributed to the destruction of the refineries since their members populate the staff of the assets which have not worked for years.
“PENGASSAN members are the staff of the refineries, so why are they failing to make it work, that’s the question. What it means is that you want to take it from their hands. They’re crying again.
“ If other countries’ refineries can work, why have our own refineries failed to work? Between 2014 and 2020, we have spent N1.6 trillion on the maintenance of these moribund refineries.
“They can’t continue to harass Nigerians in the name of PENGASSAN. We have to do things well in this country. The biggest refinery is in India, it produces 1.2 million barrels every day and there’s one in Venezuela and even in South Korea and they have the average of over 2 million per day. PENGASSAN should not come in at all because they have failed,” the top IPMAN official stated.
He advocated that whatever palliative funds the government get from the removal of subsidy must be spent expeditiously on healthcare, education and infrastructure.
The IPMAN top official argued that the consumption figure will reduce drastically when subsidy is removed from the current 70 million litres per day to about 40 million.
In addition, he argued that deregulation will free the market for competition, but expressed the fear that whatever funds saved from removing subsidy could be stolen or misappropriated.
He maintained that if Dangote could build a refinery in less than six years, there’s nothing stopping the federal government from building one in the last couple of decades or even maintaining the existing ones.
According to him, the so-called senior staff of the association who are also staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) are also the ones that have failed to manage the refineries well , leading to their complete deterioration.
He stated that the downstream oil sector in Nigeria will change with the coming on-stream of the Dangote facility, explaining that Nigeria is likely to be a net exporter from then. “It’s going to be a game changer and with the absence of shipping costs etc, things will change for the better,” he added.
But he agreed that the refineries could be managed on the NLNG model, with the billions being paid into the government coffers regularly, noting that the model will take petroleum products supply from the hand of government.
He lauded the NNPC for its new outlook, especially in the employment of expatriates and the increase in crude oil supply, stressing that with the work going on in Warri and Port Harcourt refineries, Nigeria will soon see some level of relief.
Osatuyi argued that the reason investment wasn’t coming into the modular refineries sector is because the system is still heavily regulated.
He stressed that the only way the deregulation programme will succeed is to ensure full transparency, with contracts and positions fully advertised.
As the system is currently operated, Osatuyi argued that politics remains the bane of the Nigerian oil industry, maintaining that although Nigeria has some of the best brains, the managers of the system know the right thing but will always do the wrong thing.
He explained that with privatisation, all the retrogressive politics will end, as the operations will be taken off the hands of government and government officials.
He further advised the incoming government to quickly take a decision on the removal of subsidy, but that the proceeds of the savings from subsidy must be prudently spent.
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja