US investor, Lagos communities sign joint ownership refinery agreement

IN a move that may yet nip in the bud the perennial restiveness in oil communities, USA investor, Trans oil energy incorporation and a cluster of communities in the Lagos West Senatorial zone at the weekend sign a joint ownership agreement that will give birth to a 100,000bpd petroleum refinery in the next twelve months.

The new company, Union Trans Oil Refinery Limited, will be sited in the over 700 acres of choice land provided by the communities. While the investor will pay for the land, they will also part with a sizable chunk of equity shares to give the communities a sense of belonging.

Speaking during the short but impressive signing ceremony, the promoter and president of the refinery, Hicham Makkaoui, said this move would end the perennial restiveness in oil regions. ’’The communities know that they stand to receive dividends yearly which we believe will be ploughed into community developments, so the sense of belonging has been provided’’

Makkaoui said the fact that the communities’ representatives are also on board of the company was an assurance that their views are taken into cognizance during decision making processes and employment.

According to him, the company had received the approval of the United States Export Import Bank for $500m equipment guaranty to commence operations on the oil refinery, while Sterling Finance Canada had also structured $2 billion for the project.

He added that the company had also secured the interest of foreign technical partners for the projects such as S&B Infrastructure, a US based American Engineering firm in Houston Texas adding that the company had also secured a refinery licence from the federal government.

While applauding the efforts of the federal government in deregulating the oil industry, Makkaoui pointed out that since the issue of funding, location of the company, operational licence and appointment of technical partners had been resolved, “we can boldly say full operation will begin in 2018.”

Makkaoui explained that the establishment of the refinery was in response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent shuttle diplomacy to USA and the government’s deregulation of the oil sector, which he said made investment in the sector attractive.

“It is actually in response to the deregulation of the oil sector which has just become encouraging for investors. It is expected that this oil and gas refinery when completed would increase production of refined products locally and create employment for Nigerians,” he said.