Africa’s top oil producer wants to end its need for imported petroleum products within 18 months. As oil-rich Nigeria aims to ramp up production, its state petroleum company will undergo restructuring in the coming weeks, Minister of State for Petroleum Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said Tuesday.
"We must target between the next 12 to 18 months we should be able to get out of importations of refined products," Kachikwu, who is also head of the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., told reporters at a press conference in the capital, Abuja, according to Reuters.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, largest economy and largest oil producer, accounting for roughly 2 million barrels of crude daily. But the West African nation's four oil refineries have never reached full production due to sabotage and poor maintenance, forcing it to rely on pricey imports for the bulk of its immense energy needs. Kachikwu said President Muhammadu Buhari approved a restructuring of the 39-year-old company to comprise upstream, downstream, gas power marketing, refinery groups and ventures divisions. The announcement comes a week after Kachikwu said the NNPC would be broken up into 30 standalone companies to improve profitability and transparency, according to Quartz.
Nigeria is facing its worst economic crisis in years, triggered by falling crude prices and chronic oil theft. The oil industry provides more than 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign-exchange revenue and about 70 percent of government revenue. Buhari hired Kachikwu, a former executive vice chairman of Exxon Mobil Africa, to take over as NNPC group managing director in August in an effort to address the company’s corruption.
The scale of graft within the state-run oil company was revealed in a report published last summer by the National Resource Governance Institute, an international watchdog group in New York. The report states that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has increasingly stolen large sums of money from the national treasury. The company, which has not responded to requests for interviews, allegedly withheld about $12.3 billion from the sale of 110 million barrels of oil over 10 years, according to the report.