Indications have emerged that oil marketers might be losing hope for local refining of fuel soon, as the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery is yet to commence any local production even after a promised deadline.
Recall that in May, while delivering his speech at the official commissioning of the refinery by former President Muhammadu Buhari, the President, of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, had given the assurance that local refining at the facility would commence in about two months.
He said, “Your excellencies, distinguished guests, our first product will be in the market before the end of July or beginning of August this year.”
However, it’s been about a month since the expiration of the promised time, but Dangote refinery has yet to make any official comment about whether production would commence or not.
The situation has sent a not-too-good signal to the oil industry as stakeholders were much expectant, and hopefully, the start of local production by the facility would bring succour to Nigerians.
In June, the Spokesperson for the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Garba Deen, declared that the company would cut down its fuel imports programme in August, once the Dangote Refinery began to push out refined petroleum products latest August.
A top source among the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) confirmed this development, saying the NNPCL had indeed cut down importation with the hope of Dangote refinery pushing out some product last month.
Meanwhile, amidst all this agitation, Dangote Refinery has remained mum over the issue, as officials of the Communications Department of the facility could not give any concrete explanation.
But a source at the refinery told The Punch that the management was unsure of when petrol refining would begin at the Ibeju-Lekki facility.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, submitted that “For now, the management has not come out with any official date.”
Naija News, however, reports that this subtle disappointment from the Dangote Refinery is coming after the federal government announced recently that the Port Harcourt Refinery would begin production by December this year.
Reacting to this development, the National Controller Operations, of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mike Osatuyi, told the platform that the delay might be due to some internet factors in the facility.
The IPMAN official said that even though there was no cause for alarm since the NNPCL is still importing, the ultimate was to make sure the government gets the other local refineries to come on board instead of depending on the Dangote refinery.
Also, the President, of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Festus Osifo, said, that instead of focusing on the Dangote Refinery, the government should concentrate on making the Port Harcourt Refinery work in December as promised too.
He said, “We should rather focus on making other refineries work because it would cut down on freight rates from importation, and would reduce prices. Dangote is a private businessman and can decide tomorrow that he would not refine again, although the government has a 20 per cent stake in the refinery. We should rather push for our own refineries, and ask the government the question such as; when is the Port Harcourt refinery going to start refining petrol?