By Obas Esiedesa
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote has disclosed that the 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery being developed by Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemical Company Limited would be completed in May 2020.
NCDMB has a $10 million equity investment in the refinery project.
A statement by the board on Tuesday said the possible completion date for the project was confirmed by Wabote and the Director of Finance and Personnel Management, Mr. Isaac Yalah when they inspected the project site on Monday at Ibigwe, Imo State, in company of the Chairman of Waltersmith, Mr. Abdulrasaq Isah and the Executive Vice-Chairman, Mr. Danjuma Sale.
According to the statement, the progress completion of the project stands at 65 percent, sven percent ahead of the original schedule. The engineering and procurement components had also been completed, with construction at 60 percent.
In his assessment after taking a tour of the site, Wabote described the project as investment channelled in the right direction, hailing the contractors, Lambert Electromac and Zerock, for their remarkable pace of execution, dedication and expertise, noting that they continued with the project despite the onset of the rainy season.
He also expressed delight with the high number of Nigerians working on various aspects of the project, stating that it underscores President Mohammed Buhari’s commitment to create employment for young Nigerians from the activities of the oil and gas industry.
“I hope similar projects would come on stream pretty soon to generate employment for Nigerians”.
In line with the requirements of the succession plan requirements of the Nigerian Content Act, Wabote charged the contractors to train and absorb more Nigerians in senior management positions and make them permanent members of their companies, even after the project phase.
He also noted that the Ibigwe modular refinery was the first of such projects to be undertaken by the NCDMB and Watersmith and hinted that the Board had sanctioned another modular refinery project to be developed at Calabar, Cross River State.
Speaking also, the Chairman of Waltersmith, Isah, thanked the Executive Secretary for the visit and affirmed that the company was satisfied with the quality of work from the contractors.
He also noted that Waltersmith had been steadfast on its obligations to the firms.
“We expect you to remain consistent with us as well. But we are very happy with what we have seen and we are looking forward to commissioning and beginning to sell diesel and kerosene from this site in May 2020.”
The Project Manager of Lambert Electromac, Mr. Mohamad Chit stated that all outstanding construction at the site were above the ground and being fast tracked.
He stated that the installation stage is expected to take four weeks when it begins in October 2019.
Chit also said the modular refinery project begun on a good footing with the host community and had continued to enjoy conviviality from the local population.
The Board and Waltersmith signed the equity investment agreement in June 2018. Wabote had explained at the ceremony that the investment decision was in line with the Board’s vision ‘to be the catalyst for the industrialization of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors.’