By Innocent Oweh, Abuja

President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Francis Johnson, has said, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Port Harcourt refinery would resume refining of petroleum products before the end of this month, while that of Warri would also come on stream before July ends.

Johnson criticised irregular allocation and transfer of oil blocks by previous administrations just as he said they were among factors militating against development of the oil and gas industry in the country.

He noted that declaring a ‘State of Emergency’ in the oil and gas sector by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration would not be out of place, if the President were desirous of finding a lasting solution to crisis in the sector.

“By the time these refineries begin production, you will see that we are getting somewhere; by the time we are also doing our refining domestically and start getting money from that process, we can start thinking of having these modular refineries that, within 12 to 18 months, can be on stream,” Johnson said.

The PENGASSAN president gave this indication in Abuja at the weekend when he delivered an address at the occasion of the fourth Triennial Delegate Conference of the Total branch of PENGASSAN.

On the recent fuel scarcity in most parts of the country that was occasioned by subsidy claims for oil marketers, PENGASSAN said it was unfortunate that the Federal Government voluntarily handed over its major source of revenue to the whims and caprices of a few individuals who dictate what happens in the sector.

He said, “There is no where in the world that government would put its strength on the hands of individuals; take a cue at the issue of the recent MOMAN strike, it was embarrassing to every stakeholder, the government was made to hands-up until it made commitment to pay.

“What is going to be the state of the government, when you know that this is where you generate 90 percent of your resources?

“When you talk about allocation of oil blocks, under normal circumstances, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), in conjunction with the minister, will do land tripping or something that is transparent, it must be open. But what is on ground at present does not represent that.

“That is why we are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to address the issue; and we say, for the oil and gas sector to grow as expected by all Nigerians, the government must declare a state of emergency”.

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