The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, on Monday said government would focus on making refineries work and commercialising gas in 2018.

In a podcast released by Kachikwu in Abuja, he said government would also bring in the private sector to restructure dilapidated infrastructure.

”To the big picture of 2018 and early 2019, what are the key things we are going to focus on? First is the refineries. I have talked about this over again, it is important that we get these refineries working.

”We must exit importation in 2019 and we are happy Dangote is working very hard and bringing back the timeline for the completion of his refinery.

If we can do that, we are going to be saving the country over 30 per cent of forex application on importing petroleum products.

”Gas flare commercialisation, we have launched it, it is taking off, we are continuing to deepen our conversation with oil companies to ensure that we exit gas flare in over gas flare sites.

”Infrastructure is key to us, our infrastructure is 30/40 years old, completely dilapidated, can’t be funded by the government anymore.

“I am working with the NNPC and DPR to launch our infrastructure masterplan and bring people who can invest in them.

”There is the issue of crude tracking – how do we track every molecule of products we have, crude and refined products? We are putting together an IT platform that will enable us do this, we are working with DPR and hopefully by the 2019 the issues of whether we could not account for our crudes will no longer occur.

”We are planning our marginal fields’ rounds and we are also planning our inland basins rounds. It is going to be a transparent process to bring people to get us more oil.

“The rules are going to be out soon once it is approved by His Excellency,” he said.

Kachikwu said the he would like to see the sector hit 2.2 million barrels though subject to OPEC constraints and fixing the infrastructure was essential to this.

He said the government being able to exit the joint venture cash call had reassured multinationals of their need to invest in the country and they had invested over $14-15 billion dollars, which were for purposes of projects like Zabazaba and Bonga extension.

”We delivered an open NNPC, a lot of work still needs to be done there.

”We are going to be rolling out our fiscal policies which are now awaiting FEC approval.

“Those fiscal policies will expand income in the short term over $2 billion a year to the Federal Government but on a long term over $9 billion.

”On the back of that, we will be working with the assembly to transmit that into legislative provisions,” he said.

The minister said he would be going back to the Niger Delta to meet governors of the region and oil companies, to put a ‘seed’ to some of the agreements on ground.

NAN