The fuel price has been predicted to reduce from N617 per litre as the Port Harcourt Refining Company, PHRC, Limited, with a combined capacity of 210,000 barrels per day, commenced operation on Wednesday, December 20, 2023.
In a now-viral video, the refinery’s flare indicated the commencement of oil refining.
The development comes months after the Minister of State for Petroleum (Oil) Senator Heineken Lokpobiri said in August that the Port Harcourt refinery will commence operation in December 2023.
According to the Minister, the objective is to ensure the country stops importing fuel.
Corroborating Lokpobiri’s stance, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, NNPCL, declared that importing petroleum products into the country will cease by December 2024.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, said, “I can confirm to you that by the end of December this year, we will start the Port Harcourt refinery; early in the first quarter of 2024, we will start the Warri refinery, and by the end of 2024, Kaduna refinery will come into operation.
In March 2021, the Federal Executive Council approved $1.5 billion to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Refinery.
Accordingly, data showed that the Nigerian government has spent N11.35 trillion ($25 billion) in the past ten years on fixing the country’s three refineries.
Meanwhile, Stakeholders in the downstream petroleum sub-sector drawn from the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) and the Petroleum Products Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN) have assured that the prevailing crisis in the energy sector would soon end with the envisaged return of operations at the Port Harcourt Refinery, Rivers State in January.
The national president and chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of NOGASA, Mr Kenneth Korie and his PETROAN counterpart, Dr. Billy Harry, who spoke after the inauguration of Akwa Ibom State chapters of the two industry regulatory bodies at Ibom Icon Hotel, Uyo, the state capital yesterday, said they were 100 percent sure that the prices of petroleum products would crash when the refineries begin to function again from January.
Korie, who blamed the current hike in prices of the products on importation, said rehabilitation and upgrade of the refineries in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri, which he said works have reached advanced stages, remain the sure way of collapsing the prices of the products.
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He said, “Yes, of course there is hope. The GMD NNPC has given assurance concerning that before the National Assembly. In all my talks, I have been hammering on the Port Harcourt Refinery to come on steam.
“I’m 100 percent sure that there will be a serious reduction in the price of petroleum products as soon as our four refineries, including the Dangote Refinery, come up. But we should not expect the price to come down like it was before, because of the high exchange rate, but it will be a bit lower than what it is now.”
In the same vein, the national president of PETROAN, Dr Billy Harry, described the inauguration of the two associations as unique, adding that it is the first time in the annals of the history of the downstream sector for such to happen.
He said it is only when the two groups work together and act together that they would be able to overcome the challenges in the sector and ensure that Nigeria returns to the time when petroleum products is sold at a price that a common man can afford.
He expressed that “what we are doing today is unique, it’s epic and it’s the first in the annals of the history of the downstream sector. We are going to make it unique throughout the country because together we can make sure that the importation of petroleum products is reduced to the barest minimum.”
“Together we can make sure that our refineries are working again, together we can get back to the time when petroleum products are sold at what the common man could afford. They say in Nigeria, anything that goes up will not come down again, but I can tell you with the synergy that is coming from retail outlet owners and the suppliers’ association of Nigeria, this is going to be something that is going to change the landscape of the economy and the economic activities of the downstream, so take this meeting as history,” he assured.