*We are excited, but – NUPENG
*As N3.1bn goes to NCDC laboratory
By Victor Ahume-Young and Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Federal Government has approved the sum of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery, which is the largest refining company in the country.
Disclosing this at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, yesterday, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said that the rehabilitation which would be in three phases. would commence immediately and would be handled by an Italian firm, Tecnimont SPA.
He explained that the first phase would be completed in 18 months, the second phase in 24 months and the final phase would be within 44 months.
He said the funding has three components from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, budgetary allocations provisions and Afreximbank.
Explaining further, he said, “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 the Council today.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has expressed excitement over the development with the president of the union, Prince William Akporeha, saying, “NUPENG welcomes this fund approval by Federal Government.
It is an indicator that the government this time around is serious about the rehabilitation of the refineries.
However, he added, “We are appealing to the government not to stop only at Port Harcourt Refineries. The government must also take very quick steps to ensure that Warri and Kaduna follow suit immediately. All efforts should be fast-tracked to ensure massive local production of petroleum products especially Premium Motor Spirit, PMS.”
Fielding questions on the operations and maintenance, Sylva said: “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.”
Also briefing, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said Council approved about N3.07 billion for six contracts for the purchase of various laboratory equipment by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) across the country.
According to him, “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.”
Also asked 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.”