NIGERIA– The Federal Government of Nigeria has shifted the deadline to stop importation of petrol from 2019 to 2023.

In February 2017, the immediate past Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had said Nigeria would stop importing refined petroleum products by 2019.

“By 2019, we should be able to exit completely the importation of petroleum products in this country,” Kachikwu had said.

 This directive could however not be implemented as the West African nation had not yet fully developed the infrastructure necessary to process crude oil into refined petroleum products.

The reality on the ground thus prompted the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, to postpone the implementation of the ban on petroleum products to 2023.

Kyari announced the postponement of the ban during the signing of the condensate refinery strategy programme Front End Engineering Design.

According to Kyari, the strategy would deliver 20 million litres of petrol when completed. The NNPC is currently the sole importer of petrol.

The GMD said, “For a country that has been producing oil for over 50 years, it is really a difficulty to explain why we are still importing petroleum products.

We have a clear mandate of Mr President to stop this and we believe this can be done between now and 2023. It is not a political deadline; it is a realistic technical deadline that we can deliver.”

On how to achieve the target, Kyari said the corporation would deliver functional refineries and support partners on projects that would make petrol available across the country.

He said, “First, we will deliver on our refineries to make them work and significant work has gone into that and we believe that we can deliver on this.

“Secondly, we will support our partners to deliver on their projects that will make gasoline (petrol) and other products available.”

The Dangote Refinery which is scheduled to start operations in 2020 is expected to process up to 650,000 barrels per day.

The refinery which is touted as the he largest single train petroleum refinery in the world is being constructed at a cost of US$12 billion and is expected to refine enough petrol to serve not only Nigeria but also its neighbouring countries.