(Recasts with financing package, adds details)
By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA, June 8 (Reuters) - Nigeria plans to raise $1.2 billion to upgrade its oil refineries, aiming to end a reliance on oil product imports by 2019, the oil minister said on Thursday.
Although Nigeria is an exporter of oil, it is mainly dependent on imports for refined products. That drains the supply of foreign exchange in the country, making it harder for other businesses dependent on imports to succeed.
“We are still far from signing any contract with anybody,” said Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu on the financing plan, at a press briefing in the capital of Abuja.
“The technical committee is still working on it and it has to go to the Federal Executive Council for approval before we move into throwing it open for interested parties.”
Nigeria’s daily domestic refining capacity is now at 6 million litres, while the country’s daily consumption stands at 35 million litres, Kachikwu said.
Last month, the country’s upper chamber of parliament voted to halt a concession agreement with the local division of Italian oil company Eni to repair, operate and maintain Port Harcourt refinery, saying the deal lacked transparency.
The refinery upgrades would be carried out via the planned financing package and not a concession agreement, Kachikwu said. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter)