Kachikwu orders Baru to end fuel queues

Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has given marching orders to the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru so as not to embarrass the Federal Government ahead of a major event coming up in the nation’s capital next week.

This new directive from Kachikwu to Baru was coming on the heels of the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) slated for February 18-22.

The minister urged end to the fuel queues, in Abuja, in order not to embarrass the Federal Government and foreigners coming for the programme.

Kachikwu also said the Federal Government had given the ministry the nod to get experts and private investors to re-tool the ailing refineries and get them working up to 90 per cent capacity in order to meet the 2019 deadline of ending fuel importation.

Speaking at a press conference, in Abuja, to highlight the upcoming petroleum summit, the Minister said he would instruct the NNPC to work day and night to ensure the queues disappear, even as he said the crisis sprang from both policy and operational challenges.

Kachikwu said: “On these fuel queues, we are working round the clock to address it. Lagos is relatively okay. Abuja is struggling because of logistics challenges. But there is improvement from what you used to have late last year.

“I’ll instruct NNPC to work night and day to ensure this is over before next week. It won’t speak well for visitors to come and see queues everywhere.

“Mr. President is also committed to addressing this challenge. We have had price adjustments since I came in and he has said the price will remain where it is today. He understands the suffering Nigerians are going through and very committed to ending it. It requires some re-engineering. My directive is that they must get the products to all parts of the country”, the minister said.

On the forthcoming NIPS, Kachikwu described it as a Nigerian version of the popular Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) held annually, in Houston, USA, assuring that it would attract loads of investments for the country by opening new business windows for both the private and public sector players.

He said the event would be declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, who would be represented by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The minister continued, “We want to reduce massive influx of Nigerian shareholders in OTC. It has turned into a massive jamboree and became a Nigerian gathering. So, we took a policy to reduce that. We came up with this and had FEC to approve it and also endorse the consultant with whom we will execute it.

“The event will attract OPEC and non-OPEC nations, multinationals, government agencies, parastatals, experts and stakeholders from various nations. It’s a big event and we are working hard to make it a huge success. I will be directly involved throughout the entire programme”, he said.

Kachikwu said the programme would be a good platform to showcase the country’s capabilities as many Nigerians have become active in production, infrastructural development, among other fields.

“We can’t ship out our best always. So, we need to improve ourselves here. We need to demonstrate what we have. I was in Lagos for the first FPSO launch at LADOL. The Nigerian modules on the facility were fabricated here and sent there to be installed on the vessel. The paints on the vessel were also made here.

“We’ve challenged ourselves that in 10 years from now, we have to have our own 100% FPSO fabrication”, he said.

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