World Bulletin / News Desk
Nigeria's Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) confirmed on Sunday that all four state-owned refineries are to be sold to private investors to end years of underperformance and financial burden on the country.
"We are working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources on the privatization of the four refineries," BPE spokesman Chigbo Anichebe told reporters in Abuja.
"We are just in the preliminary discussion with them and very soon we will make public the work plan for the privatization processes, including the engagement of advisers to advise us in the transaction."
Anichebe described the decision as part of the "ongoing reforms" to reposition Nigeria's corruption-ridden petroleum industry.
He said investors could be either Nigerians or foreigners, provided that they are capable and have a good record of performance.
"The criteria should be that the buyers have the financial muscle and technical know-how to run these companies," Anichebe stressed.
"We don't bother about where they come from as long as they come with clean money to invest in the economy."
In a calculated attempt to ward off public anger, Anichebe said a certain percentage of the shares would be reserved for the workers and host communities, as has been the practice of the bureau.
"Once the work plan is fine-tuned, hopefully by the end of the year or early January, the work plan as well as the schedule will be unveiled to the public, including the media."
BPE is Nigeria's agency responsible for selling off public properties considered to be burdensome on the country.
But its past activities, such as the sale of the public-owned Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL) and buildings nationwide, were mired in controversies.
This is the second attempt by a Nigerian government to sell the refineries since the country returned to democracy.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who ruled between 1999 and 2007, embarked on a similar drive.
His successor, late President Umaru Yar'Adua, cancelled the sale for what he called the lack of transparency in the transaction.
Nigeria, world's seventh biggest oil producer, still imports fuel for local consumption as the refineries operate far below optimum level despite consuming millions of dollars in annual turnaround maintenance.
No official record exists for how much of crude oil Nigeria produces daily, fuelling allegations of widespread corruption in the sector.Last Mod: 25 Kasım 2013, 10:01