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Analysis of the performance challenges affecting state-owned refineries in Nigeria: a systems thinking approach.

Iheukwumere, Obinna Emmanuel


Obinna Emmanuel Iheukwumere


David Moore

Temitope Omotayo


This research aimed to understand how the significant factors that lead to performance challenges across Nigeria's state-owned refineries operationalise to drive their sub-optimal performance. As such, unlike previous studies, this thesis proposed to develop a decision-support model to inform policy intervention measures that will address the refining problems from a holistic viewpoint. Using a literature search, the study identified several challenging factors, which it initially categorised within a political, economic, social, technical, environmental, and legal (PESTEL) framework. A mixed methods approach incorporating the analytical hierarchy process (AHP), validated through interviews, was applied using a multi-case study research strategy to prioritise and rank the factors according to their significance. These factors were used to develop a causal loop model based on systems thinking, in order to identify potential leverage points that informed a policy intervention framework capable of addressing the performance challenges of the refineries. The result of the study showed that the most significant factors limiting the performance of the refineries lie within the political, economic, social, and technical (PEST) issues. The leverage points for fixing these issues rests mainly within the political, social, and technical factors. As such, the adoption of management efficiency was proposed to address the political issues through full deregulation and the introduction of private sector partnership with the refineries. Secondly, stakeholder satisfaction through a coherent and successful implementation of the recently passed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was proposed as a social approach to quell communal agitations and safeguard oil infrastructure located within the Niger Delta areas. Lastly, the adoption of maintenance best practices through a change in the operating philosophy of the refineries was proposed as a technical approach to address recurring equipment breakdowns associated with poor maintenance culture within the organisation. The study argued that the implementation of this framework will lead to marginal incremental gains over time that will close the performance gaps across the refineries. The causal loop model developed in this study alongside the policy intervention framework provide a new approach for understanding and resolving the performance implications arising from the interdependencies of the causal factors.


IHEUKWUMERE, O.E. 2022. Analysis of the performance challenges affecting state-owned refineries in Nigeria: a systems thinking approach. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 13, 2022
Keywords Oil and gas industry; Business strategies; Performance management; Nigeria
Public URL
Award Date Mar 31, 2022


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