The Senate on Tuesday called on the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to suspend the planned concession of the Port Harcourt refinery to Agip and Oando – a move that was aimed to allow for the repairs and the operation of the facility.
The senators also resolved to constitute an ad hoc committee to probe the concession.
According to the lawmakers, the process should be suspended pending transparency of the process.
The upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly took the decisions after considering a motion sponsored by Sabo Mohammed, senator representing Jigawa south.
While moving the motion, Mohammed said: “The federal government recently entered into an agreement with Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), a subsidiary of ENI, an Italian oil giant to construct a $15 billion refinery in the Niger Delta region, a deal which also includes investment by Agip in a power plant with the Italian company assisting Nigeria in the repairs of the Port Harcourt refinery.
“The minister of state for petroleum resources stated that the agreement was part of a broader federal government plan to increase capacity for local production and consumption of petroleum products with the aim of ending fuel importation in Nigeria by 2019.
“While the resolve by the federal government to increase local refining capacity is laudable and should be applauded by all Nigerians, the observance of corporate governance principles and the country’s extant laws must be followed to the letter.”
He added that it was not also clear when Oando became part of the deal.
He continued: “The confusion became obvious following the disclosure on May 11, 2017, by the chief executive officer of Oando Plc on the floor of the Nigeria Stock Exchange that the group had received approval of the Federal Government to repair, operate and maintain the Port Harcourt Refinery Company with their partner Agip.”
“This development would have been wonderful because it would mean an end to importation of refined products by the year 2020, but many questions are begging for answers, such as is it Agip/ENI or Oando Plc that is taking over Port Harcourt Refinery?
“Was there the observance of the privatisation law as regards due diligence, selection from preferred bidders before ceding of the Port Harcourt Refinery to Agip/Oando?”
The Minister of Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, had on May 9 announced that the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, a subsidiary of the Italian oil giant, Eni, had committed to repairing the Port Harcourt refinery, as part of a $15 billion investment that includes building a 150 thousand barrels per day refinery and a power plant.
The plan was aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s drive to end fuel importation by 2019, Mr. Kachikwu said.