This Conundrum Called Dangote Oil Refinery -By Steve Osuji

-By Steve Osuji
A NUMBING PUZZLE: Dangote Oil Refinery has become a puzzle; indeed, a huge Rubik’s Cube. The mammoth industrial complex which purports to be Nigeria’s most iconic strategic project is fast dissolving into a searing mirage on the psyche of every citizen joe on the street. The only phenom that may be more dumbfounding is the fact of a Bola Tinubu Presidency which must have already gone down political history as the 9th wonder of the modern world.
 Dangote Refinery has become a case of one day, one sad, ribald augury. The latest herald is that the newly cranked behemoth would take delivery of crude oil from far away United States of America.
How could this be? Not a few Nigerians have suffered acute migraine since this news broke Monday ( via Bloomberg, a foreign news outlet). Many are so puzzled they went to bed much distraught and traumatized the night before…
How could this be? Nigeria importing crude oil? Nigeria is among top 10 crude oil producing countries in the world… she has far more crude oil than what Dangote Refinery needs!
How could this be? USA is about 14,420 kilometres by sea away from Nigeria.
How is it that Nigeria that is struggling to sell her crude oil; practically pleading with India, China and even US to buy Nigeria’s crude would have a refinery built partially with Nigeria’s funds ordering crude oil from abroad …
How did Dangote  arrive at importing crude oil …  Nigeria’s brent crude is regarded as the best in the world, it stands to reason that a major refinery in Nigeria must necessarily be fitted to use Nigeria’s crude feed …
Why would a refinery in Nigeria elect to carry additional cost of freight, insurance and port handling charges for imported crude oil? Why wouldn’t it simply import refined products?
The Federal Government reportedly invested about $5 billion in the $20 billion worth Dangote Refinery. Though the so-called equity was neither properly documented nor was it expressly approved by the legislature ( some of the abiding shenanigans of this large puzzle), how would it profit the refining house to now take raw material from abroad at the detriment of the womb that bore it?
OPACITY, THY NAME IS DANGOTE: A couple of weeks ago,  Nigerians,  nay, the world had been regaled with what we must term Dangote Refinery fairy tales. Six million barrels of crude oil had been delivered from NNPC in the Niger Delta to the Dangote Refinery in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos. Six million of premium Nigeria’s sweet crude (brent) for the purpose of cranking the 650 barrels per day capacity DANGOTE REFINERY.
From hindsight,  it now seems Dangote Refinery is doing Nigeria a favour by taking her crude because not even a word is told Nigerians yet  as to the terms and conditions for the 6m barrels of crude.
One barrel of crude oil produces 159 litres of petrol. Multiply 159 by 6m and multiply yet by N6oo per litre. This will give you a little idea of the NNPC- Dangote sweetheart deal they are not telling us about. Now they have to buy crude from abroad,  refine and re-ship abroad or sell in Nigeria?
Remember that we are not yet asking about by-products like diesel, aviation fuel, HPFO among other derivatives. Hopefully someone in NNPC or Ministry of Petroleum will be nice enough to give us information about our commonwealth being handed wholesale to Dangote!
A REFINERY CALLED SHINANIGANS: The Dangote Refinery has been a pain we can’t resist in the past one decade. Labelled as the largest single-train crude cracking outfit of its kind in the world,  it was to kick off in 2013 somewhere in the Niger Delta but was relocated to Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lagos. A not so smart business decision( indeed a dumb political decision) because the cost of laying crude oil pipes from the Niger Delta to Lagos almost  asphyxiated the entire project. This singular factor almost doubled the cost and caused delays.
Construction began in 2016 but completion deadlines were missed more than three times.
Though President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned it last May, it was however,  the height of political gimmickry because even he knew the refinery wasn’t ready.
No doubt a bold, ambitious move by its founder, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, it has been hailed and lauded for its sheer size and expected impact. But there seems an abiding opacity in the execution of the project. We don’t know how much of Nigeria’s funds seeped into Dangote Refinery through  the graft haven called NNPC. And even as production started  last December, nobody can vouch how much crude oil NNPC has been supplied or is about to supply. Yes they gave us figures but you will have to believe NNPC at your peril.
 Nigerians really don’t know what to believe. Some say the Dangote Refinery is a front, a ruse, a crude exporting outlet; indeed our ears are full!
Again, why would Dangote Refinery surreptitiously order crude from the USA if all is well between NNPC and Dangote? How does Nigeria hosting the largest refinery impact on the man on the street? Will pump price rise or fall?
And what’s the latest on Nigeria’s subsidy conundrum? With naira shrunken to nothing and all petroleum fuels still being imported, you don’t have to be an economist to discern that the Federal Government subsidises all current fuel imports.
And the question Nigerians are asking now is: how is the NNPC-Dangote supply-delivery deals structured to ensure a win-win for all and for Nigeria. All of this would have been laid out and made public before one drop of crude oil is exchange.
But historically, all the parties – NNPC,  Ministry of Petroleum,  FG and Dangote Group are never known for transparent dealings. In deed, these entities are covens of corruption and that explains why the commodity (oil) providence granted Nigeria in wanton abundance has long become a curse upon her. And her the pain continues even after the largest refining facility is built, haba!
In conclusion, one thing Dangote Oil Refinery must explain to Nigerians, and quickly too, is why it has elected to carry coals to Newcastle.

Related posts