The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, has said that the combined efforts of the NNPC and output from private refineries will impact positively on production of petroleum products.

Baru said this through the Managing Director, Port Harcourt Refining Company, Shehu Malami, at the foundation laying of the Azikel Refinery, Obunagha in Gbarain, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The foundation laying of Azikel Petroleum, one of the 22 private refineries granted licences by President Muhammadu Buhari, was performed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo last Saturday.

“I am optimistic that the combined effort of the NNPC and output from private refineries will impact positively on capacity for production of petroleum products in the country,” the NNPC boss stated.

Baru commended the President of Azikel Group of Companies, Dr. Azibapu Eruani, for the remarkable pace of work at the Azikel Refinery site.

He expressed optimism that the refinery construction would be completed soon to begin onward dispensing of refined petroleum products to the public.

He said work on the perimeter fencing, loading gantry, security unit and the administrative building had attained appreciable level of completion.

Baru pointed out that the 12,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd) hydro-skimming refinery would produce petrol, diesel, aviation fuel, liquefied petroleum gas and heavy fuel oil.

The NNPC GMD lauded the signing of the Certificate of Occupancy by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State for the Azikel Refinery and Azikel Power Project.

He noted that of the 22 refinery licences granted by President Buhari, Azikel Refinery was at the forefront of making Nigeria to attain self-sufficiency in petroleum products.

He said that the net exportation of petroleum products target would be met in 2019 and that more Greenfield refineries would make Nigeria a dependable economy.

Baru noted that with synergy with the private refineries, particularly the Azikel Refinery, the hydra-dreaded problems of fuel scarcity, long vehicular queues and importation would end soon.

He commended Eruani for building a new private refinery, praying that the laudable steps taken would motivate and serve as a veritable road map for others to join in the onerous task of industrialising the nation.

Meanwhile, Governor Dickson has demanded that more oil blocks should be given to the oil-producing areas because they are ‘the ancestral properties of Niger Delta.’

He also called on the multinational oil companies to heed the directive by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to relocate to the Niger Delta producing the crude oil.

The governor said, “We need more of this investment for our people to be part of it. At anytime I have the opportunity as a governor of a federating unit, I will use the opportunity to commend President Muhammadu Buhari and tell him that we need more.

“We are talking of ownership of oil blocks because that is a legitimate demand. We are yet to see the demand and directive by the Federal Government that oil companies should relocate to the Niger Delta. I don’t know of any business which justifies pipelines criss-crossing several areas for building refineries while they haven’t built refineries from the source of crude oil.

“In all the all-producing areas around the world, the activities of those companies are located where the resources come from. We must examine our own conduct and what we do. We are waiting for the oil blocks. What the Nigerian government sits down and calls oil blocks are in fact the ancestral properties of the Niger Delta. They are pieces of our ancestral properties. We are not saying other should not be included. But if we are not included, it will be wrong.”

Dickson commended Obasanjo, whose government he said gave Bayelsa State two (indigenous) oil blocks.

“The investment will take off all the stress and pressure on us. I have signed the Certificate of Occupancy for 99 years in line with the Land Use Act. I do this every week and one of the first things I did when I came to office was to liberalise land,” he added.