The Federal Government has expressed commitment to the plan to reduce importation of petroleum products from the present 95 per cent to 60 per cent by 2018.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, restated the resolve at the Rainoil 20th Anniversary Lecture organised by the company in Lagos on Wednesday.
The theme of the anniversary was: “The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry: Opportunities, Challenges and Prospects of the Downstream Sector”.
The minister of state said the proposed construction of modular refineries in the Niger Delta and more investments in the sector, the importation of refined products would be reduced to 60 per cent by 2018.
According to him, the country will start exporting refined products with the commencement of Dangote Refinery in 2019.
“The nation is at the turning point where the downstream industry is more critical than ever and will drive the economy.
“Currently, the NNPC imports over 95 per cent of petroleum products because of the challenges faced by marketers in accessing Foreign Exchange.
“After 20 years in this industry, I have seen the industry go through challenges but regardless of all that, we are optimistic that there are a lot of opportunities in the sector.
By year 2020, the country would not import petroleum products.
The minister was represented by the Group Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer Downstream, of NNPC, Mr Henry Ikem-Obih.
Kachikwu said the country’s refining capacity for the first quarter of this year presently peaked at 10 million barrels of crude oil.
This he noted was against eight million and 24 million barrels recorded for the entire years of 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Mr Reginald Stanley, a former Executive Secretary of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), and Chairman, Board of Advisors urged investors to go into partnership to build refineries.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), Mr Dapo Abiodun, called for total deregulation of downstream which remains a great challenge to the development in the industry.
He said that the downstream business was at a verge of collapse because of the huge debt of two billion dollars owed marketers.
“We need a deregulated downstream to allow market forces drive the industry.
“Our challenges range from under-optimise facilities, forex as well as policy inconsistency.’’