By OpeOluwani Akintayo
The 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery is yet to begin production after the August commencement date, earlier announced by the President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote.
While delivering his speech at the official commissioning of the refinery by former President Muhammadu Buhari in May, he said, “Your excellencies, distinguished guests, our first product will be in the market before the end of July or beginning of August this year.”
However, no drop of refined petroleum product from the refinery has hit the market weeks after the promised production deadline, according to findings by The PUNCH.
Spokesperson for the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Garba Deen in June, said that the company would cut down its fuel imports programme in August, once the Dangote Refinery began to push out refined petroleum products latest August.
A top source among the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria also confirmed that NNPCL had cut down importation.
Corroborating Deen, while speaking to journalists after a meeting with oil marketers in Abuja, also in June, the Chief Executive, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency, Farouk Ahmed, also said NNPCL had cut down on importation.
Officials of the Communications Department of Dangote Refinery could not speak on the matter as of press time.
However, a source at the refinery told The PUNCH that the management was unsure of when petrol refining would begin at the Ibeju-Lekki facility.
The source who was not authorised to speak said, “For now, the management has not come out with any official date.”
The President, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Festus Osifo, advised the Federal Government to focus on completing the Port Harcourt refinery rather than focus on the Dangote refinery.
He said, “We should rather focus on making other refineries work because it would cut down on freight rates from importation, and would reduce prices. Dangote is a private businessman and can decide tomorrow that he would not refine again, although the government has a 20 per cent stake in the refinery. We should rather push for our own refineries, and ask the government the question such as; when is the Port Harcourt refinery going to start refining petrol?”
The National Controller Operations, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mike Osatuyi, also said there was no cause for alarm as far as petrol supply was concerned as the NNPCL was still importing.
According to him, management of the Dangote refinery may have delayed production, due to some internal challenges.
He also advised the Federal Government, to ensure that other local refineries come on stream rather than depend on the Dangote refinery.