Yenagoa – Some groups in the Niger Delta on Sunday commenced the enumeration of artisanal refineries and crude distillation camps ahead of the Federal Government’s proposed liberalisation of modular refineries.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had on Feb. 14 during a tour of oil communities in the Niger Delta region, announced the policy of deploying modular refineries to drive the economic development of the region.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more than 200 operators of crude oil distillation camps, referred in local parlance as ‘kpo Fire’ camps, turned up for the exercise in Yenagoa.
Speaking at the event, a social activist, Mr Pat Obiene, who convened the enumeration exercise, noted that it was a follow-up move to the Federal Government’s new policy directive to formalise artisanal refineries.
He said that three groups, Masses Congress, Bayelsa Business Roundtable and Modular Refineries Business Association, were collaborating on the data collection exercise to determine the total capacity of the local refineries.
“ This is a follow-up to the pronouncement by the Federal Government to use modular refineries to open up the Niger Delta and fast track development.
“ We thought it wise to kick start this initiative.
“It is based on the idea that the society is built by the cumulative efforts of ordinary people that we want to provide reliable and accurate database that the government can rely for decision and planning purposes.
“We have designed the forms to classify the artisans into Crude Point Owner, Loader, Cooker/Refiner and Dumpsite Owner to capture data on number of workers, daily crude volume and daily turnover.
“The data collected would be processed, analysed and used as a basis to determine the size and capacity of the proposed modular refineries suitable for each location,” Obiene said.
Mr Olaitari Ikemike, the President of Bayelsa Business Roundtable, an affiliate of African Business Roundtable, explained that the initiative was aimed at networking and cross fertilisation of ideas among stakeholders.
“This is an effort to bring private sector people together and work for the realisation of the modular refinery concept; we need to be a catalyst to bring local refinery operators together and ensure that our peculiarities are factored in.
“The pronouncement of the Federal Government is laudable and we have to support and actualise it,” Ikemike said.
Mrs Faith Wilkingson, a local manufacturer of lubricants, urged women involved in local refineries to embrace the emerging opportunity to add value to the crude oil endowments of the region.
Mr Roland Kiente, who operates a local refinery in Peremabiri Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, appealed for further sensitisation to enable all operators register.
“The policy to make artisanal refining legal is a dream come true for us and to guard against this laudable gesture being hijacked by political jobbers, there is need for further awareness in the creeks.
“Igbomatoru, Peremabiri remain the epicenter of local refineries, and some operators are apprehensive thinking that they will be arrested if they come out,” Kiente said.
Also speaking, Mr Clever Oyabara, the Chairman, Modular Refineries Business Association, noted that modular refineries would lay to rest the youth restiveness in the region.
“The policy will be a permanent solution to youth restiveness because a 10, 000 barrels per day capacity refinery can create more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs,” Oyabare said.