The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has said the Port Harcourt refinery is near completion.
The three refineries in the country; Warri, Port-Harcourt, and Kaduna have been moribund for years.
However, Sylva said the Port Harcourt refinery should be ready before the end of the second quarter of the year.
He disclosed this at a seminar by Defence Correspondents with the theme, ‘‘Achieving presidential mandate in curbing oil theft and securing the nation’s wealth” in Abuja on Wednesday.
Represented by his media aide, Horatius Egua, he said the problems confronting the oil and gas industry stemmed from years of neglect by past administrations.
He also said the order given by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on the eradication of oil theft was yielding results.
He said, “The oil and gas industry is the most complex sector in this country. The more you look, the less you see. In the last 12 months, the order by the president to end oil theft in the country is beginning to yield results. Before then our production went down to 900, 000 barrels per day but today it is gradually picking up and oscillating between 1.5 and 1.6 million barrels per day.
“Apart from stealing, past governments did not invest in infrastructure in the oil and gas sector for a very long time. You find pipeline rupturing; we could not get what we wanted but this administration has done that. Also, our refineries are not working despite the millions of naira spent on them.
“ The president directed that the refineries must work and as it is the Porth Harcourt refinery is at 65-70 percent. hopefully before the end of the second quarter of the year. I believe something will come out of that refinery.
Speaking, the former Chief of Policy and Plans in the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Henry Babalola (retd.), said the government was not doing enough to eradicate the issue of oil theft.
He said, “The government is not doing enough to eradicate oil theft. Nigeria is not taking it as an emergency. Oil thieves Criminals should be charged with treason. The amount lost to this menace is humongous.
“The $20bn said to be lost to crude oil theft would have shored up our revenue, and paid our debts. Crude oil theft will kill the nation if drastic action is not taken. Citizens are punished to deter. It is one of the pillars of the criminal justice system. Failure of sanction or insufficient of it has encouraged crude oil theft.“