The four Federal Government-owned refineries in the country are producing refined petroleum products at an abysmally low level.
Investigations by newsmen shows how the refineries are producing at about 25 per cent of installed capacity.
The investigations show that only two of the refineries – the Warri and Kaduna refineries – are partially functional at the moment.
The remaining two located in Port Harcourt are struggling with faults that have prevented them from adding to the quantity of fuel produced locally.
The old refinery in Port Harcourt has not been in operation for several months, while the new refinery, which before now was contributing to the quantity of locally-refined products, has also stopped operation because of lack of electricity.
Specifically, the two refineries in Port Harcourt have not been working since January 2012, when the anti-subsidy removal protests spearheaded by organised labour and civil society groups took place.
According to punch newspaper, the new Port Harcourt refinery had struggled with epileptic operations because of the activities of vandals, who had damaged its pipeline at the Ogoni area of Rivers State. This had a serious impact on its operational capacity.
The National President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Mr. Babatunde Ogun, attributed the low level of productivity of the nation’s refineries to neglect by successive administrations.
He said the performance of the refineries had become poor because of lack of deserved attention to their maintenance.
Ogun urged the Federal Government to take the issue of the Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries more seriously by engaging credible firms to handle them.
The unionist argued that the delay in the commencement of the Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries had made the nation to depend on imported refined petroleum products.
He lamented the alarming drop in the production capacity of the refineries, which is put at 25 per cent of their installed capacities and urged the government to embark on urgent steps to remedy the situation.
He said, “The refineries have been neglected for a very long time and it has affected the level of their capacities for production.
“I think the Federal Government should take the issue of the Turn Around Maintenance of these refineries more seriously.
“They should look for credible people with guarantee from the banks to do the Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries so that they would be sure of a credible job.
“The delay in carrying out the Turn Around Maintenance is only encouraging the continuous importation of fuel from outside the country.
“We are producing below capacity; we are producing between 20 and 25 per cent of installed capacity.
“The old Port Harcourt Refinery has been down for some time now. The new one too has been down for some time now because of lack of inadequate supply of electricity to power the plants. The government should look for a way to fix the power problem affecting the refineries.
“The issue of frequent removal of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is not also helping. The GMD and his team should be allowed to stabilise to carry out the maintenance.
“Another thing is that the ministry should not interfere with the operations of the GMD of NNPC and his team.
“The TAM should be done once in every 22 months or thereabout; so, they should start now because the more we wait, the longer it takes.
“One other thing is that it takes us too long a time to take decisions in this country and it has its effects on us.”
However, the details on the refineries provided by the Acting Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Fidel Pepple, on Thursday, contradicted the claim by the PENGASSAN National President and others, who spoke on the state of the refineries.
Pepple put the production capacity of the Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company at over 70 per cent of installed capacity.
According to his analysis, the WRPC has a production capacity with Crude Distillation Unit of 77 per cent; Vacuum Distillation Unit, 70 per cent; and Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit, 80 per cent.
Pepple put the performance of the Kaduna Refinery at 60 per cent of installed capacity.
The NNPC acting spokesman said that the Port Harcourt refinery was “ready for a start-up after some repair work but awaiting crude supply.”
According to him, the PHRC would undergo Turn Around Maintenance in the fourth quarter of 2012, the KRPC in the second quarter of 2013 and the WRPC in the fourth quarter of 2013 or the first quarter of 2014.
Pepple, who stated that TAM should be carried out every two years, noted that the last TAM was carried out on the PHRC in 1999/2000, WRPC in 2004 and KRPC in 2008.
Although the NNPC acting spokesman was silent on the cost implication of the TAM to the country, an online news agency, The Will, quoted the acting Managing Director of the WRPC, Mr. Samuel Babatunde, as having said that the TAM in the company would cost N94.2bn.
Babatude was also quoted as having said that the TAM for the Port Harcourt refinery would gulp $463m.