By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The federal government has said it plans to build as third refinery in Rivers State bringing the total in the state to three.
This is as the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, insisted that the Niger Delta region is safe for companies to conduct their businesses, and therefore demanded that international oil companies (IOCs) relocate their headquarters to the state.
The duo spoke yesterday when the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipri Sylva, and the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) paid a courtesy visit to Wike at the Government House in Port Harcourt.
Sylva also said plans had reached an advanced stage to rehabilitate the existing refineries in the country.
He said the federal government decided to start the rehabilitation programme from the two refineries in Port Harcourt “because Rivers State is the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry.”
The minister also commended Wike for being persistent in his quest to get the Refinery Road dualised, and promised that the ministry would support the move.
In his response, Wike urged multinational companies to stop using insecurity to justify their refusal to relocate their operational headquarters to the Niger Delta region.
The governor wondered why insecurity does not prevent the drilling of oil but could be used to deprive the state what is due to it.
“They use insecurity issues to place us in a disadvantaged position and deny us our right.
“There is insecurity in Lagos, Kaduna and Katsina States, yet companies do not run away from those states. The railway projects are not stalled too.
“The multinationals are sometimes to blame because they instigate insecurity by paying militants and turn around to blame it on the people.
“There is no excuse to operate outside our state. The federal government should compel them to relocate their headquarters to the state as the hub of the hydrocarbon industry,” the governor stated.
He noted that the NNPC has not done anything substantial for the state after many years of operation, adding that the Port Harcourt refinery has continued to operate below installed capacity, and that even the access road has been in a poor state for years.
“I urge you as the minister, and members of the board of directors to dualise the three kilometres road and change the narrative,” he stated.
Wike commended the ‘patriotism’ Slyva had demonstrated by attracting federal projects to his state, and urged other ministers to emulate him.
He said even if the minister is of the opposition party from Bayelsa State, “his sense of patriotism has made him to place the interest of the state above partisan interests.”