The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva has explained that Nigeria decided to import Petrol from Niger Republic as a way to boost trade between the two countries.

Nigeria and Niger had in July 2018, agreed to build a pipeline to bring crude oil from Niger to the proposed Katsina Refinery.

The agreement was followed in 2020 by another one signed between the two countries on petroleum products transportation and storage.

Sylva said Nigeria wants to legalize the thriving illegal petroleum products sale already going on between the countries, adding that it also needs to share its experience in the oil exploration sector with neighbouring countries.

He said: “You know that Niger is a smaller country and Nigeria is more experienced in oil exploration than most countries in Africa. You find out that most of these countries have these constraints.

“Although, we have this agreement with Niger they have a constraint on how to deliver on it to this country because of the contract they have with the Chinese. So, if we realize that they have constraints we can change.

“The whole idea is that Niger has 20,000 bpd which is even bigger than their consumption.

“There is already illegal trading going on between Nigeria and Niger. So, what we want to do is to see how we can legalize it.

“We want to begin to create a business without neighbours. This is what ECOWAS and AU are trying to encourage. That is inter-regional trade and begin to trade among ourselves.”

Sylva also said the processing of award marginal oilfield licenses have been completed and the 161 winning bids have been notified.

He revealed that 50 percent of them have paid the signature bonuses.

According to him, “the process has been completed and there were 161 winning bids and they have been notified and we have started receiving signature bonuses paid by the winners. At least, from the last account report I got from DPR, almost 50% of the winners have paid.

“What we are expecting from the whole process is about $600 million and of course we have also given an allowance for people to pay in naira so you have to pick which currency to pay in – in naira or dollars.

“So, at this point we cannot give any figure in any currency but just to tell you that payments have been encouraging and they have up to April 20th. So, there is some time. Although, the jury is still out we believe that by April we would have got a lot of them to pay.”

On the imminent passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), he said the leadership of the National Assembly has assured that it is working assiduously to pass the PIB in April 2021.

He assured that the bill will not suffer another setback going by all indications from the leadership of the National Assembly.

On the issue of the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery, Sylva criticised former Senator Dino Melaye for kicking against the project, saying that the former Kogi West senator knows nothing about the oil industry.

According to him, Melaye is no expert on refinery and should, therefore, refrain from imposing his views on the sector.

He said Nigerians have always demanded functional refineries, wondering why there would be complaints when the present administration wants to meet their yearnings.

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