Build up to the establishment of Liberty Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone in Akwa Ibom State, the state government has expressed optimism that the multi-faceted coconut refinery under construction would provide alternative to the country’s mono crude oil economy.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel stated this while receiving a delegation from the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA), led by its Managing Director/CEO Mr. Umanah Okon Umanah, who was on a courtesy visit at the Government House, Uyo.
Governor Emmanuel expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for the approval given for establishment of the Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone in the state.
He said that the proposed Free Trade Zone which is expected to be the largest in the country, on completion, will give a boost to the state’s coconut refinery project thereby enhancing economic diversification.
Governor Emmanuel explained that the state-owned coconut refinery which will be driven by a combination of technologies will serve as a major export hub of coconut virgin oil in Africa, adding that the refinery will be multi-faceted and digitized with capacity to process other economic products like palm kernel.
“in fact as at today we were thinking that we would have started installations of the only digitized and probably the largest export hub for virgin coconut oil in the whole of Africa, within this oil and gas free zones we are installing the largest coconut refinery that will do extraction of coconut oil in Africa. That same refinery without changing a pan can process palm kernel oil, so it is going to be multi-faceted, multi-purpose and a digitized refinery”, he stated.
Speaking further, Governor Emmanuel said that the Covid -19 pandemic hampered the commencement of operations in the coconut refinery and assured Akwa Ibom people of commencement of operations once the dreaded pandemic is abated.
He urged the OGFZA management team to secure an office accmmodation in the 21 storey smart building, explaining that the state government has had elaborate consultations and sensitization of relevant communities through the traditional and other grassroots institutions and assured on the acceptability of the project and cooperation of locals for enhanced security.
Earlier, the MD/CEO, Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone Authority, Mr. Umanah Okon Umanah, described their visit to the state as historic, saying the it marks the commencement of operations in the Free Trade Zone .
Mr Umanah lauded the governor’s resilience in working with the federal government to promote the establishment of the Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone in the state and congratulated him for the feat, attributing the President’s approval to his efforts.
He commended Governor Emmanuel for working hard to ensure peace in the state , saying that the peaceful terrain has created attractive business environment for Foreign Direct Investments, FDI, in the downstream and upstream sectors of the oil and gas industry.
He assured that the project was up and running, explaining that the agency has reached out to the multinational companies for the commencement of the construction phase.
Highpoint of the visit was the presentation of the official gazette of the federal government on the establishment of the Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone in the state by the management team of the agency.