By G9ija

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) at the weekend called for more investment in modular refineries in the country, warning businessmen who are supporting illegal refining activities to desist and channel their resources to legitimate transactions in the oil and gas industry.

Speaking in Ahoada Rivers State, after a tour of facilities at the Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR), Director of the DPR, Mr. Sarki Auwalu, noted that the regulatory agency was not averse to licencing more modular refineries to encourage local in-country refining.

A statement by the regulatory agency, noted that the DPR chief stated that rather than going into illegal refining for lack of capacity to do proper refining, private concerns should consider setting up modular refineries.

There are currently a total of 38 proposed modular refineries with capacity ranging from 5,000 barrels per day to 30,000bpd and six conventional plants with a total capacity of 1.35 million bpd.

Auwalu noted that Nigeria was capable of attaining self-sufficiency in gas processing and refining, stressing that the agency was more interested in monies from royalties, as opposed to funds from penalties meted on players in the industry.

“I urge investors to start small and grow gradually, just like what we have seen today in Niger Delta Petroleum Resources with practically less than one per cent foreign input. Indeed enormous employment and capacity has been harnessed locally.

“DPR is a business enabler and opportunity provider in the oil and gas sector, and we also ensure that the business is sustained, that’s why we’re calling on Nigerians to come and invest in the oil and gas sector rather than indulge in illegal refineries.

“Invest with the support of the DPR and you will have no reason to be afraid of business failure,’’ he noted.

He added that Nigeria currently has about seven private refineries and 20 processed investors’ licences, saying that if a local production company like the NDPR has the capacity of producing, refining and marketing 11,000 barrels per day of petroleum products, then other willing investors could achieve the same feat.

Outgoing Managing Director of NDPR, Dr. Layi Fatona, who received the DPR team, expressed satisfaction over the enormous human resources in the oil and gas sector.

Fatona stated that within a short time, the company had grown its productive capacity from 1,000 barrels to 6,000 and was currently at 11,000 barrels per day.

He explained that the company had successfully adopted global best practices, in addition to ensuring zero gas flaring in its operations