The cost of Turn Around Maintenance of Nigeria’s four refineries from year 2000 to date is nearly the total cost of building the refineries, as investigations revealed that over $1.6 billion had gone into the maintenance of the four refineries since 2000, Daily Trust reports.

The minister of state for petroleum resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had last week told a gathering of oil chiefs in Abuja that; “Our refineries have not been maintained at the same levels that other nearby countries have continued to do theirs. Look at Ghana and Ivory Coast, the same refineries, about the same ages and working at over 90 per cent capacity.”

Experts say that at the heart of Nigeria’s refining problems has been the lack of maintenance of the plants in comparison to other countries. They note that despite the fact that some of Africa’s largest refineries, such as Algeria’s Skikda refinery, Libya’s Ra’s Lanuf refinery, South Africa’s SAPREF Durban refinery and Egypt’s Mostorod refinery; are much older than or just as old as NNPC’s refinery in Port Harcourt, regular turnaround maintenance were conducted on those refineries and therefore they run better.

Another expert noted that because some of “the refineries are run by companies independent of the government, they understand the market and how a refinery is supposed to be run properly. Whereas in Nigeria, the refineries are owned and run by government,” In other words, “it is a monopoly.” Thus, while these four refineries among others in Africa continue to weather the continent’s difficult refining landscape, Nigeria, Africa’s number one oil producer and exporter continues to struggle to fix her refining system that has left the country condemned to petrol imports.