Modular Refineries And N’Delta Dev

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The Niger Delta region has undergone a chequered history of socio-economic development in Nigeria.
The region has within the past years been at the centre stage of national discourse, as it is rife with consistent agitations over perceived development neglect and adverse environmental degradation as a result of the exploitation of its natural resources for the development of the country.
This unbridled quest for development attention on the part of the Niger Delta has no doubt remained Nigeria’s greatest albatross.
Several interventionist policies and programmes of successive governments to assuage the demands of the Niger Delta has unfortunately failed to abate the impending crisis of development in the area.
The latest of their palliative measures is the decision of the federal government to establish modular refineries in the Niger Delta.
The Federal Government’s position on the establishment of modular refineries in the Niger Delta was made explicit by the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, then acting president, during a working visit to the region.
Addressing stakeholders in the Niger Delta, the Vice President disclosed that licences will be issued for the establishment of modular refineries to provide a more regulated and sustainable economic activity as a credible alternative for those who found solace in bunkering and illegal refining of crude oil as a major occupation in the region.
According to the Vice President, the decision was part of moves to stem the growing spate of crude oil theft and wanton destruction of oil facilities in the region, which has resulted into monumental economic loss to the federal government and untold damages to the natural environment.
The Federal Government’s policy on establishment of modular refineries has, however, formed the nucleus of contentious debate among experts and stakeholders.
While some stakeholders believe that the establishment of modular refineries will impact positively on the economic development of the Niger Delta, others are of the opinion that the policy is unrealistic and therefore unpracticable.
A workshop on Nigerian content, recently organised by the Port Harcourt branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, (NSE) and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, (NCDMB), provided a platform for stakeholders and experts in the oil and gas industry to discuss the prospect and implication of modular refineries for the development of the Niger Delta.
Speaking on the sub-theme: Nigerian Content and Diversification of the Economy in the Proposed Modular Refineries Sub-Sector, a Chemical Engineer and University Don, Dr Awajiogak Ujile faulted the concept of modular refineries as proposed by the federal government.
Ujile, an Associate Professor and lecturer in the Rivers State University, said the idea of using modular refineries to replace “crude oil cooking” in the Niger Delta was not feasible because the operators of the illegal refineries lacked the technical capabilities to operate modular refineries.
He pointed out that the management and operations of conventional refineries in Nigeria over the years has been a dismal failure as a result of political interest and the deliberate isolation of experts with the requisite technology to dr