Acting President Yemi Osinbajo stated this at a forum on modular refineries organized by the Modular Refinery Association of Nigeria at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
“We are trying to develop a very robust set of guidelines that will help people to do this well, we have got so much interest all over the country and practically everywhere around the world, and especially from young people in the Niger Delta who want to be involved in the modular refinery business and many of them are coming in with investors,” Prof. Osinbajo said.
He said the federal government was working towards setting up a framework that would make modular refineries work.
He said any interested investor “who wants license and presents a sensible business case will be authorised to operate a modular refinery.”
According to the acting president, the idea of modular refineries was motivated by the need for Nigerians to exploit the abundant oil and gas resources in Nigeria.
Alternative to illegal refineries
Prof. Osinbajo said a lot of the interest along modular refineries came from the need to provide an alternative to illegal refineries, which has caused environmental damage in the Niger Delta.
“This is aside of the fact that the crude is stolen and even in the process of stealing the crude a lot of environmental damage is done.
So, there is a very serious reason, an environmental reason, and also a reason of law and order to ensure that we regulate the production and processing of oil,” he stated.
He added that a second and more important reason is the fact that the raw material for the modular refineries is available, challenging the innovative and creative ingenuity of Nigerians to harness it.
Prof. Osinbajo said that the refineries are doing well because they are privately run and have good business models.
He said “Government cannot just go and set up refineries, if government sets up refineries and give them to people to run, it won’t work, and we have good examples in all the refineries that we have seen.
If you look at all the refineries that we have today, the reason why they are not working is because they are government run, government cannot do business. Government’s business is to create the enabling environment for people to do business.
At best government will put some investments into it. Government should not be in the business of setting up refineries all over the place.”
He said President Muhammadu Buhari’s new vision for the Niger Delta, which involves the federal government, the state governments, oil-producing communities and the private sector, articulates ways of dealing with issues of the Niger Delta.
He also said in establishing the modular refineries the Federal Governments and state governments will be involved.