There is enough Nigerian expertise to run refineries.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has declared that Nigeria has enough qualified staff to successfully and profitably run her refineries kicking against the plan by the federal government to concession the Port Harcourt Refineries to the private sector.

PENGASSAN said though it is not averse to concessioning it is risky for any country to hand over 100 percent of its energy security to the private sector but needs to maintain some level of security because energy is security a serious security issue.

Group Chairman, PENGASSAN, NNPC chapter, Sale Abdullahi, while briefing journalists Tuesday in Port Harcourt confirmed the claim by some staff of the Port Harcourt Refineries that there are enough Nigerian experts to run the plants.

He called on the Government to rise up to its responsibility of providing crude to the refineries to attain 100 percent capacity saying that with enough crude the two refineries can attain up 210,000 b/pd capacity.

Some members of PENGASSAN at the Port Harcourt refineries had claimed that they have enough staff to operate the refineries better than foreigners and stated that rather concessioning them away as scraps the government should ensure provision of enough crude and regular Turn Around Maintenance TAM for the Refineries to continue to run smoothly and profitably they added that with the continued operation of the refineries, more jobs would be created for numerous Nigerians.

Abdullahi stated that the association`s position is that government can start by giving out small percentages and monitor the progress made.

He said; “Yes, we hear about concessioning, we are not averse to concessioning, we are not averse to privatisation.

However, want we are saying is that no nation will like to toil with the issue of energy. At the moment, at the position we are, we don’t want a situation where 100% of the energy see for is given to private hands.”

He likened full concessioning of the refineries to handing over the security of the country 100 percent to the private sector stressing “we want to maintain some level of security because energy is security. Just like we cannot give our security to private hands 100%, we should equally not do it in the case of energy.”

“That is the reason why we are saying, when you are bringing in investors, bring those that will add value to the refineries. Not being able to do maintenance, certainly it is because of finance. We welcome those they come with finance to help us in the area of maintenance, we partner together, we make profit together but with the guarantee that that the energy security of the nation is in the hands of government. That is our take”, Abdullahi added.

The Group Chairman who was in Port Harcourt to seek the support of the Port Harcourt branch of PENGASSON on the forthcoming national election of the association said that with the numerous challenges of the country’s oil and gas industry the way forward would be to come up with a road map of what exactly you want to achieve in the oil and gas industry and to plan to move away from oil and gas in the event that in the future that commodity becomes irrelevant in the economy.

“So, that roadmap is key and we have to look at capacity building in other areas”, he said adding “We thought that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill PIGB which was contemplated to bring some life into those areas that we see some challenges.”

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