Saving Nigeria Refineries before Inviting International Investors By Sunny Oputa
Nigeria refineries have for years remained epileptic and performing below capacity or totally out of operation causing incessant fuel scarcity in the country with other aligned negative economic issues.
Since onset, refineries which were supposed to produce in full capacity at about 445,000 barrels per day, have never operated up to 240,000 barrels per day. Sometimes it could stay for long without any operation due to failure of parts, leaks and lack of essential turn around maintenance.
Nigerian refineries do not have problem with feed stock. The major challenges confronting the refineries are operation management, involving human capital and application of relevant technologies.
As the government once again clamors to set the path straight and ease the suffering of the masses and ensure economic recovery by working towards getting the refineries up and seeking for partnership with international companies to operate the refineries more profitably, it becomes necessary to pinpoint that the refineries need some face-lifting before serious investors could be attracted.
First, it is proper to understand that the refineries were built under different set of environmental regulations. Then flaring was not considered major issues. High level of pollution that emanate during refining and the need to minimize flaring calls for an upgrade in innovative technologies that will control or stop flaring.
While there should be technology upgrades in ensuring efficient operations in the refineries in order to optimize production, they facilities are experiencing equipment depreciation/deterioration. This could cause high level leaks, corrosion problems and possibilities of fire out breaks.
The need to create a winning and preferred maintenance culture is necessary. This will enable necessary maintenance schedules and would help to avert the fire fighting approach called turn-around-maintenance which has become more of a political talk show and instrument for money guzzling and economic paralysis
These steps could be important towards saving the refineries before inviting the GEs and Eni and others to come and partner to avoid been underpriced.