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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Buhari And Nigerien Crude For Kaduna Refinery: Another Conflict Of Interests By Ifeanyi Izeze

Why is it that people in leadership position in this country find it very difficult to learn and correct themselves? How could the NNPC boss, Maikanti Baru again in a public forum say that against the challenges in moving crude oil from South-South Nigeria to Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company (KRPC), the Presidency has turned to Niger Republic for supply of the commodities to bring the Kaduna Plant into full operation? Could it have made any difference if the NNPC boss had said his corporation is exploring various options to secure crude oil feedstock for the Kaduna plant without dragging the name of President Muhammadu Buhari into it?

This same NNPC man the other day also said the president had given him a matching order to go into the Chad Basin and find oil by force. Few weeks from then, he came again to say that the same Mr. President has asked him to go into Bauchi and Gombe basins and find oil. Looking at these pronouncements amongst several others, do they not sound outrightly clannish? Does the man ever say anything by himself, or does he believe that by always dragging the name of the president he will strengthen whatever he is saying?

It was at a town hall meeting in Kaduna with management and staff of Kaduna Refinery that the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) disclosed ongoing plans by the Buhari Government to construct about 1,000-kilometer crude oil pipelines from Niger Republic to Kaduna Refinery.

According to him, “Due to challenges with the aged refinery and crude oil pipelines that had been breached severally, the operations of the refinery has been epileptic. This we are determined to resolve through various intervention methods, including evaluation of alternative crude oil supply from Niger Republic through building of a pipelines of over 1, 000 kilometers from Agadem to Kaduna. That effort is being championed by Mr. President himself.”

“It was important to explore alternative crude supply to KRPC, which has been affected by vandalism of pipelines and obsolescence, assuring that the initiative will reduce downtime of the plant and ensure optimal utilisation.

“The Corporation has already started engagements with the Nigerien Minister of Petroleum and the Chinese that are operating the field at Agadem (The Agadem Block is located in the East Niger Rift Basin)."

Most of the reactions that trailed the announced plan by the the Buhari-led federal government to secure crude oil feedstock from Niger Republic for the Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Plant were unnecessary and at worst outrightly naive. Rather, it should be applauded.

Except the federal government convinces Nigerians that the “Nigerien alternative” represents the first phase of similar consideration, it will be very difficult to tell anyone that such initiative is not clannish and with some clandestine motives. How can our leaders be making pronouncements and taking decisions that give credence to allegations by some disgruntled Nigerians that certain people in government came to push clannish agenda?

Now, let’s look at the issue: Has Kaduna refinery been separated from other refineries belonging to the NNPC in Warri and Port Harcourt? No! Breach of crude oil supply pipelines to the NNPC refineries; is it peculiar to the Kaduna Plant? No! If all the three and half existing refineries suffer the same fate in the hands of vandals and oil thieves, how does it look that only the Kaduna Plant is being singled out for offshore bridging (from Niger Republic) of crude feedstock for processing as the solution to incessant attacks on the pipelines?

My sincere plea to Nigerians, especially in the Niger Delta region, is to massively support this “noble” initiative as it would serve our general interest very well because crude oil supply pipelines to both Warri and Port Harcourt refineries are being breached as much as the Trans-Niger trunkline that supplies the Kaduna Plant from Escravos. So as the federal government is thinking of a 1,000 kilometre pipeline from Agadem, in Niger Republic, it is strongly believed they are also thinking of similar pipelines to Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon or Angola to feed the Warri and Port Harcourt refineries as part of the overall efforts to address availability of crude to also make the two refineries in Warri and Port Harcourt function optimally. Or are those two plants no longer NNPC refineries? You see the smallness in the thinking of our leaders?

What is unfolding may be part of the initial plan by those that built the Kaduna refinery to run on imported crude oil grades for its processes. Those who know would confirm that in the first instance and for whatever reasons, the Kaduna Refinery was not even designed to process crude oil from the Niger Delta. On the orders from those who were in charge then, Chiyoda Chemical Engineering and Construction Company (now Chiyoda Corporation) of Japan designed the Kaduna refinery to process heavy/paraffinic crude oil grades alien to the light and sweet grades that abound in our country.

It has severally been said that from day one, the Kaduna plant was designed to process heavy crude similar to the grades from the Middle East. The problem of access to crude from the Niger Delta was not as serious as the issue of blending Forcados, Pennington and the Bonny to get something that can be managed as feedstock for the Plant. It was this same issue of appropriate grade of crude that has perennially crippled the Kaduna refinery because of the cantankerous evacuation of black oil sludge at the plant. Till tomorrow, the NNPC is yet to come with a workable solution to the problem of evacuating the black oil sludge from the plant.
If pipelines supplying crude oil to our refineries- Kaduna, Warri and Port Harcourt are being breached incessantly, whose responsibility is it to check the problem by addressing the issues thereof? This is a defeatist mindset. If you have a problem in your family, would running away to sleep in another man’s address the problem in your own house?

The Republic of Niger is ranked as the 17th biggest oil producer in Africa and the 78th largest oil producer in the world. Oil reserves are estimated at 1 billion barrels (exploration play not even producible reserve) and its daily production of 20,000 barrels per day is expected to rise to 80,000 barrels per day and that has not been achieved yet. Niger’s current oil production is consumed locally; the country plans to export around 60,000 barrels per day once the second phase in the development of the Agadem block is completed.

In December 1986, the design capacity of the fuels plants of the Kaduna refinery was successfully debottlenecked from 50,000 barrels per stream day (BPSD) to 60,000 BPSD, bringing the total refinery installed capacity to 110,000 BPSD. Now, Nigerian money is going to be spent by the NNPC to lay 1, 000 kilometres of pipeline and all the ancilliary facilities including booster substations to get crude oil feedstock from a country whose overall daily output still stands at 20, 000 barrels per day hoping to up it to 60, 000 barrels per day. And what is the installed capacity of the Kaduna Plant, is it not 110,000 barrels per stream day? So even if we take everything Niger Republic is hoping to produce (20, 000 or even 60, 000 barrels per day), is that going to make Kaduna refinery run optimally? You see the deceit in the entire pronouncement and contraption?

Walai if the announcement was to blackmail or rather threaten the Niger Delta region and its people, then it was massively miscalculated and it’s not going to work at all rather it would only produce more devastating consequences. Go and mark my words somewhere! God bless Nigeria!!

Ifeanyi Izeze writes from Abuja and can be reached at iizeze@yahoo.com and 234-8033043009.

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