The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has berated the Federal Government over the fuel scarcity in the country, saying government’s energy policy was defective.

The NLC, which spoke through its Secretary-General, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, warned the Federal Government against allowing Dangote Group to monopolise the oil refinery sector.

According to Ozo-Eson, the Dangote Group currently monopolises the cement sector. He said that such must not be allowed to happen in the oil refinery sector.

The NLC Secretary-General blamed the Federal Government for the current fuel scarcity in the country.

He said the Federal Government failed to pursue a comprehensive policy that could improve local crude oil refining capacity and that the government was pursuing a wrong policy in the energy sector.

Ozo-Eson stated that the Federal Government did not think its energy policy through, noting that the country would continue to have energy crisis anytime there was a rise in the international prices of crude oil and fluctuations in the exchange rate.

Ozo-Eson explained that every member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries had refineries.

 He noted that the government would be failing in its responsibility if it allowed multi-billionaire businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to have monopoly in the downstream sector.

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He said, “A monopoly in the oil refinery sector will kill Nigerians; a recent survey showed that prices of cement in Nigeria are the most expensive anywhere in the world.”

However while reacting to the NLC statement, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)  criticised the NLC for its warning about impending monopoly in the oil refinery sector.

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The SERAP Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said,

“I don’t think the NLC is serious. About 18 licences were issued to people to construct refineries more than two years ago and those who were given the licences failed to commence any work. So, it is not a question of Dangote monopolising the sector, it is a question of who has the wherewithal and commitment to commence work?

“Let the NLC suggest other people that have shown their wherewithal to also construct refineries. The Goodluck Jonathan-led administration issued licences to 18 companies but no one has yet to build. Let the NLC do its work properly and stop giving Nigerians the wrong information. This is the way I see it.” He said.

The Dangote refinery upon completion in 2019 will be the single largest refinery in the world. With an annual refining capacity of 10.4 million tonnes (Mt) of gasoline, in addition to 4.6Mt of diesel and 4Mt of jet fuel.

It will also produce 0.69Mt of polypropylene, 0.24Mt of propane, 32,000t of sulphur and 0.5Mt of carbon black feed.

Granting of license for private refineries to private investors has not yielded any result this is why the Buhari-led administration has vowed to encourage the construction of modular refineries. The administration also promised to end importation of petroleum products into the country by 2019. How this plays out, time will tell.

Modular mini refineries may be in units from 4000 to 30,000barrel per day (bpd)  though some are as low as 1000 bpd capacity. Lubricating oil, waxes and asphalt may not be produced in a modular mini refinery