January 23, 2018 / 5:59 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Nigerian state oil firm's board to decide on refinery investors this month

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ABUJA, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) board will decide on the investors for its three major refineries this month, the state oil company said on Tuesday.

NNPC launched a bidding process in 2016 to find partners to overhaul ailing refineries that produce very little petrol because of decades of mismanagement, leaving OPEC member Nigeria reliant on imported oil products.

The three existing refineries -- in the cities of Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna -- could add total capacity of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) if refurbished. The project requires investment of $2 billion.

“We are pushing towards the final selection of our financiers and we expect that, when that is done, we’ll get the agreements and present them to our board, meeting this month, to secure their endorsement,” NNPC’s head, Maikanti Baru, said in the statement from the company.

“Once we have the funding, we would start the rehabilitation of the refineries towards a 90 per cent capacity utilisation ... before the end of 2019,”

No details of any potential financiers were provided.

The government has previously said it was in talks with Chevron, Total and ENI.

NNPC is also open to new refineries, and two investor groups have expressed an interest in building facilities, Baru said in Tuesday’s statement.

Since early December Nigeria has been grappling with fuel queues that have angered from citizens during what is usually the peak driving season.

The government’s fuel price cap of 145 naira ($0.48) per litre has made it unprofitable for many private importers to bring in gasoline, leaving NNPC to import upwards of 90 percent of the fuel, sources have told Reuters. ($1 = 305.1500 naira) (Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Adrian Croft and David Goodman)

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