The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, says the Federal Government is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure full implementation of the Auto Gas Policy.
Sylva said this at an interactive session with newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday.
It was reported that President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 1, 2020, launched the Auto Gas Policy to help reduce the impact of high cost of petrol price in Nigeria
He said that there was the need to have critical mass of vehicles converted to use gas to achieve the desired impact in the country.
“Now, if you have a critical mass of vehicles, may be one million converted to use gas, you must also have a commensurate amount of filling stations that are enabled to fill the one million cars converted.
“So, you cannot do one aspect of it in exclusion, they must go hand in hand, if not, the whole programme will not make sense.
“We are working right now with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that we are able to bring in conversion kits for a critical mass of vehicles.
“And then also give soft loans at the same time to downstream operators to fix their filling stations, so that when we fit the two together, it will work.
“That process is ongoing, we have already launched the policy and it has brought the attention to Nigerians to know that it is a policy direction now,” Sylva said.
According to him, one or two filling stations cannot salvage the whole situation.
He said that ensuring a critical mass of vehicles and filling stations would help the implementation of the policy.
Sylva added that it would help the policy to develop a life of its own. “I can tell you that we are working on that and I think it is a very good development,’’ he said.
On the rehabilitation of the refineries, he said that government had been able to source funds to ensure that they were revamped and functional.
He said that it was unfortunate that the refineries in Nigeria had been like a weeping baby but noted that government believed that there was the need for it to be functional before taking any direction.
The minister said that it would be difficult to sell the refineries at their current state.
“What we want to do is to ensure that these refineries are functioning, so, if it is functioning, the first thing we want to do is not to run the refineries as a government.
“We agreed that government is not a good manager, so, we want to put an operations and management contractor, professional mangers of refineries.
“At some point, we will put out advertisement for professional refinery managers to bid for managing the refinery, so that when it begins to work, it will be given to a professional manager to run.
“It is not going to be subject to government issues any more, again, when it begins to work, Nigerians will decide if we should sell it or not
“There are a lot options open to government, we can decide to go to the stock exchange or open it for people to buy the shares. Every option will be available but at least, it will be a functional refinery,’’ he said
Reports had it that the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery commenced on May 6 by Maire Tecnimont SPA, an Italian company.