Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Illegal oil refineries operators in the creeks of the Niger Delta are now making moves to legalise their operations by positioning themselves to key into the establishment of modular refineries in each state of the region as promised by the federal government.
Guided by Oil and Gas Producing Communities Welfare and Development Foundation, the illegal refineries operators and host communities producing oil and gas are fine-tuning how to participate through equity share in the emerging industry in the region.
For effective take-off of Bayelsa State Modular refinery, to start with, the Oil and Gas Foundation and a team of local consultants have been negotiating with international investors in the United States of America and Russia.
In this regard, the foreign investors have shown interest to put in 60 percent counterpart funding with local communities and the federal government and other local investors ready to collectively put in 40 percent into the project.
The cheering news was contained in a communique issued by Oil and Gas Producing Communities Welfare and Development Foundation at the end of a tripartite meeting between the Board of Trustees of the Foundation and the Bayelsa State local refineries operators and representatives of host communities producing oil and gas at Biogbolo in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital on Wednesday night.
According to the communique signed by Messrs Doctor George, Ayetimi Edikeme and Hendrix Opukeme, National Secretary of the Board of Trustees, the meeting was sequel to the announcement by the federal government to establish at least one modular refinery in each of the Niger Delta states for the host communities to participate through equity shares in the oil and gas industry.
â€œThe proposed Bayelsa State modular refinery is therefore targetted at positioning the local refineries operators in the state to key into real business through global acceptable scientific methods of crude refining and production,â€ it stated.
As a deliberate policy to rid the creeks and communities of local refining activities, the foundation said the local refiners would be coordinated into clusters that would collectively own equity shares of five to 10 per cent in the proposed Bayelsa State modular refinery which would be seen as a community based investment programme.
Among the agreements adopted at the meeting which was attended by 34 local operators are the constitution/inauguration of the state chapter of the Oil and Gas Producing Communities Welfare and Development Foundation to coordinate all local refineries operators to key into the modular refinery project.
It also adopted allocation of project site for preliminary surveying and site visitation by international investors as well as demand from the federal and state governments for the release of 50 per cent of the derivation fund accruable to Bayelsa State to make up the 40 per cent counterpart funding as required by the investment memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be signed between stakeholders.