Disquiet in presidency over NNPC’s non-completion of PH refinery, OB3 gas pipeline project – Sources

Adebari Oguntoye
Adebari Oguntoye
Port Harcourt Refinery

The presidency is is allegedly concerned about the failure of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited to fulfill milestones critical to the goals of President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

According to insiders, Hadiza Bala Usman, special adviser to Tinubu on policy and coordination and head of the central results delivery coordination unit (CRDCU), expressed these concerns during a review of the quarterly performance assessment of the ministry of petroleum resources (oil).

Usman said the government is worried about key uncompleted projects by NNPC, a source told our correspondent..

Specifically, the government official said the NNPC has continued to delay the completion of state-owned refineries — including the Port Harcourt refinery.

This, according to Usman, followed the “mechanical completion” of the rehabilitation work on a section of the refinery on December 21, 2023 — with assurance that operations would commence after the Christmas break.

The NNPC shifted the commencement of operations to April 2024 — of which Usman noted that there has not been any update on whether production at the refinery would commence this month, the source said.

Usman was said to have stressed that the endless changes in timelines for the commencement of production at the refinery was concerning to the government and Nigerians.

“This continued shifting in timelines is eroding the confidence of Nigerians in the government, and as an administration, we cannot allow that,” Usman was quoted as saying.

“This is why Mr President mandated the CRCDU to track the deliverables and performances of all MDAs, and we have no option but to identify and engage the Ministry of Petroleum NNPC Ltd on the situation at hand.”

According to the source, Usman also said the rehabilitation of the refinery was meant to bring the facility to optimal capacity for production rather than “attain tokenistic and marginal production milestones”.

Furthermore, she expressed worry about the decline in crude oil production from 1.351 million barrels per day (mbpd) in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023 to 1.265 million bpd in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024.

In addition, the source said the government official emphasised the need for the NNPC and the security agencies to work together to improve daily production and achieve the government’s target of 1.65mbpd for the second half of 2024.

She also identified the importance of ramping up efforts to expedite the speedy completion of the Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) gas pipeline project, which has been lingering.

Usman, it was learnt, said the CRDCU would employ the support of all stakeholders to ensure that the NNPC delivers on its performance indicators as directed by the president.

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