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Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu has disclosed that the federal government was seeking joint venture (JV) partners that would refurbish and effectively manage the 22 depots that belong to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Kachikwu in a recent web podcast message to workers of the NNPC in Abuja stated that the government was looking at a new policy, which would see it advertise and invite JV partners to invest in the refurbishment of the depots.
The country’s products depots are: the Port Harcourt Depot, Aba Depot, Enugu Depot, Markudi Depot, Calabar Depot, Warri Depot, Benin Depot, Mosimi Depot, Atlas Cove Jetty and Depot, Satellite (Ejigbo Lagos) Depot, and Ibadan Depot.
Others are the Ore Depot, Ilorin Depot, Kaduna Depot, Minna Depot, Suleja Depot, Kano Depot, Gusau Depot, and Jos Depot.
The Gombe Depot, Yola Depot, as well as Maiduguri Depot are also part of the depots that the government looks to invite JV partners to refurbish through a competitive bidding exercise.
“We are at the stage right now of looking at policies geared towards advertising our depots and our pipelines for purposes of contracting joint ventures that will put in money, refurbish depots that have been abandoned for upwards of a decade, so that we can have the distributional network that we need to be able to solve this (fuel scarcity),” said Kachikwu in the web podcast.
The minister explained that it was not enough to just bring in products cargoes without having a functional pipeline network and depots to distribute them to other parts of the country.
According to him: “But if you bring the cargoes and they arrive in Lagos, if you have to send 3,000 trucks round the whole country, it takes an average of four to seven days to do that, and the very next day, you’re back to the same place, so the sheer logistical nightmare is not what NNPC was set up to do, so we need to be able to get those pipelines back, get the depots functioning, push a lot of the responsibility to the major oil companies who are basically leaving us to do all the work and picking up the profit at the end of the tunnel.”
He noted that the long term solution to the country’s challenges of providing petroleum products to its citizens would be to, “throw private initiatives to the downstream.”
“We’ve got to have a situation where we create enough policy direction, such that people can get in there and actually do the business.
“We can take care of our own filling stations, NNPC stations and perhaps some of the affiliates that are going to be with us but that is a job we’ve done and done well but we can do it better.
“But ultimately, the business must go back to where it belongs, which is the private sector, not the public sector and until we do that, deal with the issue of pricing, which our price modulation has helped us manage, but not quite completely, we’re not going to solve the problem,” Kachikwu added.