Oil marketers are gearing up to load refined petroleum products from the Port Harcourt Refining Company, as workers at the facility race to get it set for production on the directives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.

Dealers confirmed on Friday that the PHRC was almost set to start releasing products, projecting a N500/litre price for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, from the Port Harcourt refinery in Rivers State.

They also expressed optimism that the Dangote Petroleum Refinery would crash PMS price below N500/litre when it starts releasing products. Dangote refinery is projected to start supplying petrol to the market in May, as it currently supplies diesel to dealers.

On Thursday, it was reported that operators under the aegis of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Rivers State Branch, told our correspondent that they paid a visit to the Port Harcourt refinery and found out that the plant might start releasing refined petroleum products this month.

This, according to them, was because the plant had been largely completed, a development that was confirmed on Friday by the National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Ukadike Chinedu.

According to the IPMAN PRO, marketers, particularly independent dealers, have started making plans on how to purchase and load products from the refinery, adding that operators are optimistic about a price reduction from the refinery.

Asked whether the refinery has put a price on the PMS to expect from the plant, Ukadike replied, “Not yet. However, NNPC is still giving us PMS at N567.7/litre, so we want to believe that the Port Harcourt refinery should give us the product at N500/litre or less than that.”

Ukadike stated efforts were really ongoing at the plant to begin the production of petrol and other refined products, as recently announced by the NNPC.

On March 15, 2024, it was reported that the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Ltd, Mele Kyari, stated that the Port Harcourt refinery would commence operations in about two weeks.

He also stated that mechanical works had been completed on the Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna refineries, stressing that the Kaduna refinery would commence operations in December.

The NNPC boss had disclosed this during a press briefing after he appeared before the Senate Ad-hoc Committee investigating the various Turn Around Maintenance projects of the country’s refineries.

He said, “We did a mechanical completion of the refinery that was what we said in December. We now have crude oil already stocked in the refinery. We are doing regulatory compliance tests that must happen in every refinery before you start it, and I assure you that this Port Harcourt refinery will start in the next two weeks.

“Completing the mechanical work means that you are done with the rehabilitation work, now you have to test to see how it works. Of course, we have also completed the mechanical work on the Warri refinery. It is also undergoing regulatory compliance; processes that we are doing with our regulator and this will soon be completed and it will be ready.

“Kaduna refinery will be ready by December. We have not reached that stage in Kaduna, but we promise Kaduna will be delivered by December.”

Kyari had also told the Senate that over 450,000 barrels of oil had been stocked into the Port Harcourt refinery.

Meanwhile, Ukadike also told our correspondent on Friday that marketers were putting in place measures that would enable them to purchase products in bulk, going by the fact that the Dangote Petroleum Refinery did not sell less than one million litres when it commenced the sale of diesel.

“So when they resume at Port Harcourt refinery and they key into what Dangote has done by selling in bulk, it means that we the independent marketers particularly in the South-East should be able to have a company that can be able to buy up to four/five million litres from the refinery.

“We are also planning to reach NNPC Trading to see whether they will be able to send 20,000 metric tonnes of PMS to our depots, strictly for independent marketers.

“From every indication, the Port Harcourt refinery is almost set to start releasing products. The government has told us that the plant will start production, at least by the end of this month. So we don’t want to be caught unprepared, for instance, if they say we should pay for two million litres and we can’t be able to pay,” the IPMAN official stated.

Ukadike also stated that oil marketers were discussing with their banks, adding that the financial institutions “are ready to fund such bulk allocations so that we can be able to distribute it nationwide because we have the reach.”

The Port Harcourt Branch Chairman, IPMAN, Tekena Ikpaki, had earlier told our correspondent that the management of the Port Harcourt refinery had assured dealers that the plant would begin operations soon, as operators in Rivers State were set to take product from the facility.

Dangote may crash prices

The oil dealers are also awaiting the potential entry of PMS from the Dangote refinery into the domestic market, with hopes that the company would crash the price of petrol below N500/litre.

The anticipation stemmed from the manners in which the Dangote refinery recently crashed the price of diesel to N1,200/litre in March when the cost of the commodity was around N1,600. The refinery later crashed the price of diesel to N1,000/litre.

The National President, IPMAN, Abubakar Maigandi, said the refinery might sell petrol at N500/litre or below.

Linking this to the rebound of the naira against the dollar, Maigandi told one of our correspondents that the product might be sold at a relatively cheaper price.

While saying the refinery is yet to begin the sale of petrol, the IPMAN president noted: “We are happy the price of diesel is coming down, thanks to Dangote refinery. As for petrol, the sale has not started. We hope petrol too will come down to like N500.

“But if the dollar continues falling, it may go back to the normal rate”.

However, the Major Energies Marketers Association of Nigeria said the PMS from the Dangote refinery would be sold at the import parity rate.

The Executive Secretary of MEMAN, Clement Isong, said, “I expect the price to be at import parity. Why (will it go down to N500 or low)? Petrol pricing is at the international price. It is based on an international reference. You buy petrol based on a willing-seller, willing-buyer basis,” Isong said in a telephone conversation.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Group Aliko Dangote, has hinted that in few days diesel will be sold at N1000 nationwide, adding that profiteers overtime have benefitted from the astronomic rise.

Dangote made this disclosure in Gombe while fielding answers to journalists shortly after attending nuptial ceremony.

He said, “Some persons have held the business for a very long time; they were profiteering but we decided that we can afford to sell it at N1000 which is 60 per cent drop. Areas like here (Gombe), Borno, Bauchi it was selling for N1,700 – N1,800 but right now in the next few days, you will not buy diesel for more than N1000 anywhere in Nigeria.”