The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari has approved $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the largest refining company in the country, Port Harcourt Refinery.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting in Abuja.
He said rehabilitation would be done in three phases of 18, 24 and 44 months in favour of Tecnimont spa, an expert in refinery maintenance.He said the funding has three components from the internally-generated revenue of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), budgetary allocations provisions and Afreximbank support.
“The Ministry of Petroleum Resources presented a memo on the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery for the sum of 1.5 billion, and it was approved by council today.
“So we are happy to announce that the rehabilitation of productivity refinery will commence in three phases. The first phase is to be completed in 18 months, which will take the refinery to a production of 90 percent of its nameplate capacity.
“The second phase is to be completed in 24 months and the final stage will be completed in 44 months and contract was approved.
“And I believe that this is good news for Nigeria.
“The contractor that was approved by Council today is Messrs. Tecnimont spa, of Italy, it’s an Italian EPC company that won the bid and that was approved by Council,” he said.
The minister said operations and maintenance have been the greatest problem of the country’s refineries.
“That has been a big problem for our refineries, as we all know, that was also exhaustively discussed in Council and the agreement is that we are going to put a professional Operations and Maintenance company to manage the refinery when it has been rehabilitated.
“In any case, it is actually one of the conditions presented by the lenders, because the lenders say they can only give us the money if we have a professional operations and maintenance company, and that already is embedded in our discussions with the lenders and we cannot go back on that,” he said.
On whether the funds for the rehabilitation of the refinery was available, the minister said: “I want to answer that the funds are all in place and work will commence forthwith.”
The minister said discussions are ongoing on the rehabilitation of all the refineries in the country.
“Discussions are ongoing. We want to take one at a time and I want to assure you that before the lifetime of this administration expires, work on all the refineries would have at least commenced.
“The first action was to go to the original refinery builders, but you all know, like I do, that if you have a Toyota car, and your Toyota car develops problem, you don’t have to go to the builders of the Toyota to fix it. Usually there are people in the business of building Toyota cars, there are also people in the business of maintaining Toyota cars.
“So, we found out from the original refinery builders that they are not in the business of rehabilitating refineries, they are in the business of building refineries. So they actually pointed us to a rehabilitation company that we’re dealing with now,” he said.
Also speaking, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the council approved N3.070 billion for six contracts for the purchase of various laboratory equipment by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) across the country.
“The Ministry of Health presented a memo on behalf of NCDC public health laboratory specialist and for Center for Disease Control. It is for six contracts for laboratory equipment and to the total worth of N3,070,892,988 for various equipment and supply, to strengthen the work of NCDC in various parts of the country, to be more ready for the work they do in diagnostics preparedness, not only for COVID-19 but for any other disease outbreak of public interest in the future,” he said.