By Philip Eke
The President Azikel Group of Companies (AGC) Dr. Azibapu Eruani said its refinery would begin operation in Bayelsa State in 2018.
Eruani, who spoke in Yenagoa, hailed President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government for giving oil refining and prospecting licenses to private oil firms.
He said his company was one of the beneficiaries of the government’s initiative, adding that the company will begin local petroleum production in 2018.
The businessman noted that the oil and gas component of his conglomerate will support the Federal Government to improve capacity and increase production and supply of petroleum products in the country.
Describing Bayelsa as the epicenter of oil and gas in the country, he said it was worrisome that many Bayelsans could not establish themselves as key players the sector.
Eruani said the private refinery initiative by the Federal Government would positively turn around the oil and gas sector.
The Baayelsa born industrialist insisted that the granting of oil refining licenses of Buhari’s administration was a strategic success for his government.
He explained that building any type of refinery required time adding that work at the Azikel Refinery site is beyond 60 percent.
Eruani said: “Azikel Group is racing against time to be the first to commence production of petroleum productions in 2018.
“Sequel to the increase in the end users of refined petroleum products, demand and the insufficiency, with the nation’s refineries producing at less than 15 percent installed capacity, the Federal Government’s sagacity is germane to improve production.
“The 23 firms granted license have the capacity to shore up production by over 700,000 barrel per day to bridge the insufficiency gap.”
According to him the governor’s plan to replace illegal refineries is a welcome development. He said the development would outlaw incessant destruction of national assets, damage to the ecosystem and preserve the nation’s foreign reserve.Eruani noted that the issuance of refinery and oil prospecting
licenses by President Buhari was to integrate the people of the Niger Delta in the sector, adding that it was part of ways of allowing the people control their resources.
On the location of the Azikel Refinery at Obunagh Gbarain in Yenagoa, Eruani said it was based on economics of location of industry close to the source of raw materials. While pledging the full cooperation in achieving the said goals.