Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is interested to buy into three refineries in Nigeria while offering its expertise in providing maintenance and turnaround services to refineries in African and West Asian countries.

“IOC has submitted Expression of Interest for acquiring a 51% stake in the Nigerian-government-owned Port Harcourt, Warri and Kuduna refineries,” an unnamed official was quoted as saying by the Indian news agency, Press Trust of India.

Nigeria has spent about US$700 million since 1999 on refurbishing the refineries, which have a combined nameplate capacity of 445,000 barrels per day (b/d), but problems such as fire, sabotage, poor management, inter-ethnic violence and lack of turnaround maintenance have resulted in the plants operating well below capacity.

The Nigerian government now plans to privatise them.

IOC is likely to compete against Chinese state-owned companies which are also interested to acquire stakes in the 150,000 b/d Port Harcourt refinery and 140,000 b/d northern Kaduna plant.

“A decision is likely by early 2005,” the official said.

IOC, which has been invited by Nigeria’s Edo State to build a new refinery, wants Nigerian crude oil for its refineries back home in return for the refinery jobs.

The company has also submitted bids for turnaround maintenance job for the Port Harcourt refinery. The Indian company working with Engineers India Ltd has submitted a bid to upgrade refineries in Tehran and Tabriz, Iran as well as Ras Lanuf and Azzawiya in Libya.