The Federal Government yesterday said it will sustain “Operation White” designed to stop the smuggling of Premium Motoring Spirit (PMS) across Nigerian borders.
Mr Timipre Sylva, the minister of State for Petroleum, disclosed this on Monday while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 13th Oil Trading and Logistics (OTL Africa Downstream) Conference in Lagos.
The minister, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Moses Olamide, said operation white was a presidential mandated collaborative strategy between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), regulatory agencies, security agencies and all stakeholders.
He added: “The government will not relent on the sustenance of the programme.A team of 89 persons drawn from five key agencies has been mandated to ensure transparency and accountability in the distribution of petroleum products across the country.
“In addition, they will authenticate actual volumes of products imported and consumed; ensure the nation attains energy security; reduce diversion of PMS and stop financial haemorrhage; improve downstream operations and create commercial opportunities.”
He said tracking of products and clean-up of illegal stations will continue and adequately supported with modern technology.
He stated that the government was also committed to refurbishing the existing refineries to achieve full capacity operation, adding that work had already begun at the Port Harcourt refinery.
He assured that the government would also aggressively promote the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which would have a positive impact on the downstream sector by ensuring regulatory enforcement and better relation among all stakeholders.
“We will actively collaborate with the private sector to create a large number of well-paying jobs for Nigerian youths.
“These and various others are the policy direction aimed at repositioning the downstream sector of the petroleum industry in Nigeria,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Mele Kyari, group managing director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said the corporation would continue to create an enabling environment for smooth operations in the downstream sector.
Kyari, represented by the Managing Director of Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Malam Bala Wunti, noted that operation white was a data capture initiative to assess the volume of crude being imported and the volume of consumption by Nigerians.
“That way we can have data for planning, we can have data for budgeting and we can make sure that Nigeria is paying for only what we are consuming.
“We will try to block all the leakages, cross border smuggling and other activities. This will be beneficial to all stakeholders,” Kyari said.
On his part, Mr Mahmud Tukur, Managing Director, Eterna Plc, who spoke on behalf of the private sector, said OTL was the connect between the industry, the regulators and all the various operators, both international and local.
He urged the government to always carry stakeholders along in the formulating of policies for the industry, adding that the platform had provided an opportunity to examine some of the emerging challenges facing the industry.
Earlier in his address of welcome, Mr Emeka Akabogu, Chairman, OTL, said OTL Africa Downstream had created a rare platform to come together as an industry to review relevant operations, practices, procedures, policies and laws.
“This gathering gives us the opportunity to gain new insights, forge new partnerships, showcase brands, products and services and align operations to suit emerging industry dynamics.
“In doing this over the last thirteen years, we have witnessed a quantum shift in the profile of operators in the downstream petroleum industry towards a place of increased relevance, visibility, organisation and strategic positioning.
“For this, we are very proud of our role and that of the supporting industry movement occasioned thereby,” he added.