By G9ija

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva on Tuesday said he believes the nation’s refineries have the capability to function optimally due to the deregulation of the oil sector.

Sylva disclosed this in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily. He spoke concerning the agreement reached by the Federal government and organised labour who recently suspended their planned strike action.

The decision to suspend the strike followed an agreement reached between both parties that the strike will be put on hold for a period of two weeks and if the government hold up its end of the deal.

Sylva in the interview revealed that although the organised Labour gave the Federal government a timeline of two weeks, the functionality of the refineries can not be achieved within two weeks.

“I don’t think Labour is expecting to see all the refineries fixed in two weeks. Labour is quite realistic. What we told them was that we understand that fixing of our refineries has been a big problem. When we look at it from the historical perspective, the non-functioning of the refineries was because there was subsidy.

“These refineries could not function optimally and commercially. But with deregulation now, we believe that the refineries can now function optimally.

“We believe that this policy (subsidy) direction will help the functioning of the refineries, as well,” the Minister said.

He explained that the Federal Government gave the labour a clear timeline for fixing the refineries an agreement was reached.

The Minister assured that “By end of next year, the Port Harcourt refinery will be ready 50%. By 2022 the Port Harcourt refinery rehabilitation will be complete.”

He also assured that processes are on for fixing Warri refinery to ensure it functions optimally as well.