Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu announced that fuel lines will end by April 7th, amid significant public pressure. He made the announcement after apologizing for his “magician” comment and proceeded to explain the country’s fuel scarcity.
The minister cited “old and dilapidated” refineries in Nigeria as the major source of fuel scarcity. He maintained that they will be “revived to full capacity” with appropriate funding. Mr. Kachikwu added that the government will be seeking the services of consultants to assist in the revitalization and management of Nigeria’s refineries.
However, even if Nigeria’s refineries were operating at full capacity, Mr. Kachikwu said that they would still fail to meet local demand.
“The design of the Nigerian refineries was such that the component of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) versus other products was almost a 50/50 percent relationship. Most world refineries now provide PMS at about a 70 to 80 percent ratio,” he explained.
In order to remedy this, the government will utilize other sources of refining petrol and will depend on private refineries, such as Dangote refinery.
Mr. Kachikwu stated that Nigerian refineries perform poorly due to fraud and lack of maintenance.
“Over the last 10 to 15 years, we have not done a serious, conclusive turn around maintenance of these refineries; the refineries are on average 30 to 40 years old,” he explained.
“We have also had issues of fraud. It got to a point where I started wondering whether as we repair this, somebody was going out there to destroy it, so that contracting will be done.”
Despite these problems, Mr. Kachikwu is confident that fuel lines will end by April 7.
“We expect that between now and about the 6th or 7th of April, the fuel queues will disappear, the Direct Sale-Direct Purchase system will begin and the foreign exchange allocation [of petrol] will see us smoothly through the track,” he said.