The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has warned against a swift relocation of over 100 fuel tank farms and loading gantries from their current locations in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.
Tank farms, Platforms Africa reports, are huge storage facilities for petroleum products where products are offloaded and stored for transportation to retail stations.
The location of the plants along Lagos towns of Ijegun, Kirikiri and other parts of the country has been blamed for traffic congestion along the major road that lead to two biggest seaports in Lagos. It has also constituted a great risk to lives of residents.
Though the corporation is not against their relocation, it stood against doing this in a hurry to avert major scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol. Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of crude oil has, hitherto, been rocked by petrol scarcity.
The NNPC said it did not favour swift relocation of the plants “in order to avoid a dislocation in the supply and distribution chain of petroleum products across the country.”
The Corporation made the submission Wednesday at a hearing by the House of Representatives’ Ad-hoc Committee on Relocation of Tank Farms in Residential Areas of Ijegun, Kirikiri.
The statement by the NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, quoted the Managing Director of the corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari, as saying that NNPC was not averse to the relocation of the petroleum products tank farms and depots sited in residential areas but would rather that some time be allowed to achieve the full rehabilitation of the refineries and the completion of the Dangote Refinery to enable the nation exit fuel importation before their relocation.
The GMD who was represented by the corporation’s Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Umar Ajiya, told the committee that the tank farms and depots were a major artery for receiving and distributing imported petroleum products to all parts of the country and that their abrupt relocation would could trigger a crisis not only in the Downstream Sector but also in the nation’s economy in general.
“We are not opposed to the yearnings of the communities or the relocation of the tank farms and depots, but we want it to be done in phases because of the huge financial commitments by the stakeholders. If they are relocated abruptly, even the banking sector would be affected because of the loans they granted for the establishment of the depots”, the GMD stated.
Speaking earlier while inaugurating the Committee, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajiabiamila, said the Ad-hoc Committee was set up to investigate the concerns expressed by the residents in order to have a fair assessment of the situation.
Hon. Gbajiabiamila who was represented by the House Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Tobi Okechukwu, acknowledged that tank farms and depots were a critical component of the Downstream Petroleum Sector and assured that the House would look at the issue wholistically and make a decision in the public interest.
He decried the inability of the NNPC to distribute petroleum products through the pipelines due to incessant vandalism which has made products distribution by tankers over long distances a hazard to the society.
The committee was set up sequel to petitions by the residents of Ijegun, Kirikiri and others areas in Lagos State on the dangers posed by the operations of depots and tank farms to their respective communities.
The Committee is chaired by Hon. Sergius Ogun.