The Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Timipre Sylva has disclosed that the Federal Government has agreed to the $1.5 billion rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
The move forms part of efforts to prevent a labour action against the FG and to fix up the refineries to modern standards before deciding on its fate.
The Minister disclosed this in an interview with NTA news on Tuesday morning, citing that the FG inherited comatose refineries and needed to use the skills and experiences of present workers or risk laying them off.
“The administration came in and found the refineries comatose. Now you have a situation whereby you have workers. The choice is are you going to lay off and shut down the refineries? Whether the refineries are working or not, there are certain services that need to be put in place, needs to be kept running,” he said.
The Minister added that the process of trying to rehabilitate the refineries needed some time to plan and put in place, which the FG has started to do for the Port Harcourt refinery with a view to also rehabilitate the Warri and Kaduna refineries afterwards.
“Even if we don’t complete it during the tenure of this administration, we want to ensure we are taking these projects to a point of no return. The challenge is to ensure that these refineries at least begin to work before we think of what we do to them,” he said.
He stated that the FG cannot just sell off the refineries, citing the experience of past administrations, when the Obasanjo Presidency sold the refineries to Dangote but the sale was reversed due to public outcries about cronyism and due process.