LUSAKA, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government on Wednesday defended its plan to seek an equity partner for the country's sole oil refinery.
The government has invited bids from companies that would like to have a stake in Indeni Oil Refinery as a strategic equity partner.
But some stakeholders have expressed reservations on the move, saying it may result in job losses.
But Minister of Energy David Mabumba said no single job will be lost at the oil refinery as the decision to look for a strategic partner was aimed at recapitalizing and repositioning the facility for an improved operational capacity.
"The idea is to improve the capacity, the production levels will go back to its design capacity of 1.1 million tons," he said in a statement.
He said contrary to reports, the recapitalization and repositioning of the refinery will result in more jobs to deal with the improved capacity.
According to him, the prolonged low production levels had resulted in stagnation at the refinery.
He further revealed that the government will hold a local investors' conference to encourage participation in the recapitalization by local investors.
The refinery, situated in Ndola city on the Copperbelt Province, was commissioned in 1973 with a design to produce 1.1 million tons of oil per year but lack of investment has reduced production.
The government assumed 100 percent ownership of the refinery when French oil giant Total International which had a 50 percent stake in the firm pulled out in 2009.