LAGOS A 60-day period of turnaround maintenance will begin on Nigeria's main Port Harcourt oil refinery by October 1, the managing director of the facility was quoted as saying in the Vangard daily newspaper.

Anthony Ogbuigwe, making an inspection tour on Friday, said it would be the first such overhaul of the 150,000 barrel per day plant in 12 years and that, at the end of it, the refinery should run at up to 90 percent of its capacity, the paper reported.

Nigeria is locked in a dispute over the government's abrupt removal of fuel subsidies, which has sent prices soaring and brought thousands of people onto the streets in protest.

Among union demands are that the government must overhaul underproductive refineries and build new ones before any increase in the subsidised price of motor fuel.

Its four dilapidated refineries, with a combined capacity of 445,000 bpd, operate at less than a quarter of their potential because of sabotage and poor maintenance.

Nigeria has two refineries in its main Port Harcourt oil hub, one in the Niger Delta town of Warri, plus one in Kaduna in the northern part of the country.

Ogbuigwe said both the federal government and state-run Nigerian National petroleum Corp had resolved that turnaround maintenance of the main Port Harcourt refinery should be done.