The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) says it has become a recurrence decimal on the part of federal government coming up with different means in finding alterative source of oil for the country so that the Niger-delta crisis would not affect them.
According to the group, this desire is what has been driving exploration activities in the Chad basin, and now the Katsina refinery project
In a statement made available to journalists, the spokesperson of the group Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe accuses federal government of planning to abandon the Niger-delta and at the same time sending conflicting signal. Pathetically, this is the signal; "if you must know; what the the government is doing now is to go to other countries, this time, Niger Republic, to pipe its crude oil into Katsina with a view of building a refinery. We are watching. The refineries we have in the Niger Delta have not been rehabilitated, and are being starved of funds, and we don’t know where we are going, but, I can tell you that the Niger Delta will resist any attempt to sell the refineries in Port Harcourt or Warri to themselves. We will not allow these public assets to be sold to individuals,” he said.
" Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe told newsmen that government may allude to insecurity as a possible reason for not encouraging the establishment of new refineries in the Niger Delta, argued that ironically, the Federal Government has never made any concrete effort to pacify the people of the Niger Delta, and may now have resorted to encouraging investment outside the region as a means to arm-twist the region.
The PANDEF spokesperson also took a swipe at the federal ministers of Niger Delta extraction, whom he accused of pursuing their personnel interests at the detriment of the region, stressing that it was disheartening that the region’s sons who hold strategic ministerial positions have decided to abandon, downplay their region’s interest.
“Who is the minister of state for petroleum resources? In whose table did they sign the contract? Where is he from? Is he not from the Niger Delta? Who is the Minister of Transportation? Is he not from the Niger Delta? If your representatives are there and they don’t act, who are you going to blame? You can see that the Minister of State for Petroleum was excited that he has done something great. You saw the excitement on his face when he was signing those documents,” he added.
Speaking shortly after the signing of the MoU, however, Kachikwu said: “We hope that as the project goes over the next two years, we will probably have more feed-stock to power a much bigger refinery,” he said.
Already, a steering committee, chaired by the minister, and a senior level joint technical team, with a December 2018 deadline for the unveiling of a roadmap for the project has been constituted.
His word: “The study will tell us what are involved; the technical and financing details. We have mentally structured our mind to a two-year time frame, but it depends on what we find at the end of the technical study.”
The minister hinted that there is potential for extending the refinery to Kaduna bearing in mind that “the Katsina Refinery started first from wanting to build a pipeline from Niger Republic to the Kaduna Refinery. At the board of NNPC we shut that down because the asset quality of the crude from Niger was not the same as our quality of crude.
“So, we decided to do a refinery that is targeted at the quality of their crude because the shorter the distance, the shorter the pipeline and the smaller the cost required for construction. So, that was the basis for the selection of the state. Kaduna State has shown a lot of interest and the state government supports the powering of a refinery in Kaduna.”
Kachikwu explained that the estimated cost of the plan would only be known when the technical study is ready.
“So far, it is very attractive, the Nigerien government is very supportive just like we are. We are going to be having engineering and investment plans over the next few weeks and that would determine the level of interest, but so far, we have received about 30 applications.”
On security challenges in the region, Kachikwu stated that the country would not achieve anything meaningful if it fails to try.
He said: “if we bother about insecurity we are not going to make progress. Security issues are there, we will deal with them. Niger hasn’t faced much of a security issue in terms of finding its crude, the distance in the pipeline corridor is going to be short and hopefully, technology will bury it sufficiently for it not to be an issue.”