By FESTUS OKOROMADU, Abuja with agency report
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu yesterday announced first win of his recent efforts to convince multinationals operating in the oil and gas sector of the country to invest in the downstream sector as the Italian oil company Eni confirm readiness to build a 150,000 barrels per day capacity crude refining company through its Agip subsidiary in Nigeria.
“We reached an agreement that Agip will build a brand new refinery of 150,000 barrel capacity,” Kachikwu told reporters after meeting Eni executives in Abuja.
He added that a memorandum of understanding is currently being prepared.
Meanwhile, ENI executives declined to comments to reporters at the event, even as the company had in January said it would “intensify” oil and gas exploration in Nigeria and help to revamp the Port Harcourt oil refinery.
It will be recalled that the Minister had in January urged International Oil Companies (IOCs) to invest in building refineries in the country while on an investment drive to Eni’s headquarters in Italy.
Kachikwu who meet with top executives of Eni during the visit enjoyed them to move beyond the business of crude exploration to firmly supporting the vision of enhancing local production of petroleum products in the country by building refineries.
The Minister had then explained the Federal Government’s plan to stop importation of petroleum products in the long-run which makes it expedient for IOCs to invest in building refineries with a chain of distribution.
He assured the IOC’s of recouping their investment within a short period of time if they deploy the direct sales strategy.
Nigeria has been seeking investment in the sector to reduce reliance on imported oil products that consume a large portion of the nation’s scarce foreign currency reserves. After years of neglect its existing, ageing refineries produce hardly any fuel.