The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) says the 650,000 BPD Dangote Refinery in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos will be extremely beneficial to Nigeria when it begins production.
MOMAN, however, advised the federal government against preventing marketers from importing refined petroleum products when the refinery and others come on stream in order to create an open market for the sector.
Clement Isong, Executive Secretary, MOMAN, made this known while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
Mr Isong said there was merit on insisting on a minimum in-country investment in order to encourage investment in the oil and gas industry.
“However, as a core principle, MOMAN believes that free market competition remains the best protection for the final consumer and this would be our most important consideration.
“MOMAN’s position would therefore be, not to limit importation of refined products to refiners only, but allow importers with a set minimum level of investment in the oil and gas supply chain in Nigeria.”
MOMAN’s position followed a proposal by the Dangote company for the government to allow only firms that refine petroleum products in the country to import refined fuel. The company said this should be made part of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
Many Nigerians have criticised the proposal, arguing that it will foster monopoly in the market and allow the Dangote Group to be a major beneficiary to the detriment of others.
Mr Isong said there would also be need for the country to operate under a uniform exchange rate regime irrespective of who imports or refines.
According to him, this also includes the exchange rate used for the purchase of crude in Naira or the purchase of refined products in order to ensure a level playing field.
He noted that the concept of buying crude in Naira from the government and selling its refined products in Naira to Nigerians was an interesting concept that needed to be properly worked out.
“It is an interesting concept not just for Dangote refinery but for all refineries in Nigeria to be able to access the crude in Naira.
“The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria on television espoused the benefits it would bring the country in terms of foreign exchange rate management.
“Obviously, details would need to be worked out as several questions remain unanswered.
“For instance, since crude is priced internationally in US dollars, what rate would be used to convert to Naira?
“Secondly, is it correct to say that if you use crude locally for refining, it is not included in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota?
”If this is correct, to fully benefit therefore, we would need to produce enough to meet our full export quota under the OPEC regime and optimise the foreign exchange inflows as well as produce enough locally to meet local refining requirements,” Mr Isong said.
He said an additional benefit would be that any refined products that were excess to Nigeria’s needs could be exported for additional foreign exchange earnings.