The average performance of Nigeria's three refineries remained at 27 percent for the last 10 years, official data has shown.
Federal Government allocates 445, 000 barrels of crude oil per day each to Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri refineries to process. The figures represent their installed capacities.
Data obtained from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) shows that the average crude oil processed by the three refineries out of the amount received was little above one-quarter of the total volume received in a year.
NNPC received 160.2 million barrels annually for the three refineries but put only 42.6 million barrels for use and sold the remaining balance.
The data shows that in the last 10 years, the highest performance made by three refineries was in 2002 with average capacity of 47.55 percent and total refined crude of 80 million barrels while the year with lowest performance was 2007 with 8 million barrels of crude refined.
Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) had the highest output followed by Port Harcourt Refinery and Petrochemicals and then Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical.
In their installed capacity, Warri Refinery is supposed to process up to 125,000 bopd; Kaduna up to 110,000 bopd; while the twin Port Harcourt Refineries I & II can process 150,000 bopd. The maximum operational capacity of the country's refineries has never been realised.
It was estimated that in the last 10 years, government had expended $3 billion (N300 billion) for routine Turn Around Maintenance and paying salaries for workers at the refineries with little returns.
At the 20th World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Qatar, Austin Oniwon, NNPC Managing Director, promised that the three refineries would achieve 90 per cent capacity utilisation - adequate for 60 per cent of local fuel consumption by December 2013.
Experts believe that if the government is serious, the capacities of the refineries will be much higher than what was obtained before.
About 85 percent of the refined products used in the country are imported.
"We are not sure if government is serious about the revival of the refineries this time around; we saw many of such TAM in the past but after some months they stop working," an official of the petroleum product marketers association, Danladi Pasali said.
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(Originally published June 26, 2012, in Daily Trust.)