The new minister of state for science, technology and innovation, Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh, has visited the United States consulate, commercial department in Lagos for a discussion on the immediate deployment of modular refinery technology in the oil and gas sector, with emphasis on a business-driven approach.
On his part the minister said, there is urgent need for immediate deployment of modular refineries in the nine Niger Delta States, starting with states that have the most conducive environment with reference to security and business interests.
He emphasised that such investments will improve the economic outlook of the country and enhance the welfare of the Niger Delta people, as well as create jobs for local artisans, which will help to curb operation of artisanal crude refineries, reduce health hazards and protect Nigeria’s environment.
He further said that a modular system is required at this time and would have to be demonstrated at pilot scale in different locations. He added that the initiative will be purely private sector driven to be facilitated by Rock Results Group.
Ikoh said the federal government is wholly committed to supporting the immediate deployment of modular refinery systems to help reduce the challenges associated with artisanal refining and open new business relationship with American investors.
According to him, the initiative is designed to allow for both technology transfer and immediate business takeoff.
He added that the possibility of realising such a lofty target within the shortest time possible is high given the current need and high political will on the part of government.
Responding, the representatives of the US consulate commercial department applauded the minister’s business visit considering the current level of eagerness to get much done within the shortest time possible.
Senior commercial specialist of the US Consulate Commercial Department Ms Ngozi Nkwo, assured the minister that the US mission in Nigeria wholly supports the initiative and promises to match the speed of the government of Nigeria on the project of deploying modular refinery in the country to enhance business growth, human and environmental protection.
On his part, commercial specialist at US Consulate Commercial Department, Mr. Chamberlain Eke, added that, though funding has always hampered such initiatives, especially with reference to the commercial scale envisaged, however, the enthusiasm of the current administration will facilitate funds sourcing.
In this regard, the US consulate said, EXIM Bank of USA will support the investment as long as the Nigerian business counterparts can raise the required equity of 15 per cent in line with the financing policy of the bank.
The US consulate officials also promised to contact American companies in the modular refinery sector and set up the required meetings for the project takeoff.
They further expressed delight in the opportunities that the modular refinery project will bring to American companies that have already expressed strong interests in the sector and other sectors of the Nigerian economy.