By Prince Okafor
Ahead of Dangote Refinery takeoff, a fresh revelation has emerged that the project will not reduce the cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol.
Vanguard findings show that the pump price of petrol would not drop significantly even if Nigeria is refining crude oil locally.
The Dangote refinery is expected to commence operations next year with a refining capacity 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Making this revelation during NTA’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme on Monday, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, stated that when Dangote Refinery commenced operation by 2021, its production will have less significance on the price of petrol since the refinery will be selling at the international price.
According to her, “What we are doing is enabling the petroleum sector to actually grow. There have been a number of refineries that have been licensed for several years. None of them was willing to start refining under the regime that we had were fuel was controlled.
“The Dangote refinery is sitting within an Export Processing Zone in Lagos, so they are insulated from that. When we buy fuel from Dangote, we will be buying fuel at the international market price.
“The only savings that we will be making is the savings of freight which is shipping. We will not be paying for shipping cost
“But we will still have landing cost; labour cost and the marketers will still have to put a margin. These refineries being those that are supposed to have come to operate can now come in because they are assured that when they produce, they can sell at market rate and recover their investments and make some reasonable profits.
Zainab explained that the deregulation of the downstream sector which led to an increase in petrol price was good for the economy as it would encourage investments in refineries.
In her word: “It will mean more refineries will open, they will employ people and fuel will be available in different parts of the country and not just relying on government refineries.
“Those refineries are old and even if we turn them around, we will not be able to operate them at optimal capacity, so while the NNPC is trying to rehabilitate them, we also need to encourage the private sector refineries to come on stream and even state governments that have the capacity.”
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, stated that the major determinant of the cost of petrol was crude oil and as long as it remains high, the cost of petrol will not drop.
He said the cost of labour would not be too different from the international price because local refineries would be paying expatriates.
The minister added, “For now, our supply is coming mostly from imports as we all know. And that doesn’t really have an impact on the price as people would think.
“The only difference that will happen if our supply was coming from in-country would have been the freight price.
“But whether it is coming from outside or coming from within, it will be about the same cost because when you import, the only difference is that you will have to pay the freight.
“But it is the same cost of crude and whether you are refining or not, you will have to pay the market price for the crude.”
Vanguard News Nigeria.