By Obas Esiedesa
Nigeria is one of a handful of countries that export crude oil and import petroleum products. Given Nigeria’s long history in hydrocarbon’s exploration and production, the current inability to refine crude locally has remained an embarrassment to the country.
Nigeria has four refineries owned and operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) but the refineries in the past 15 years have remained in state of disrepair leaving the country to depend heavily on importation of products to meet local demand.
However, in the past three years, things appear to be on the up as construction works on the Dangote Refinery and more importantly the Waltersmith Modular Refinery near completion.
The 30,000 barrels per day Waltersmith refinery is scheduled for completion in the first half of this year and it would mark a major milestone in Federal Government’s effort in waning the country of petroleum products import dependency.
The refinery is owned by Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited with equity investment by the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and it is about 90 percent completed.
Inspecting the project located in Ohaji/Egbema LGA, Imo State, recently, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva expressed satisfaction at the level of work on the project.
Sylva noted that “the incorporation of the Modular Refinery component in the existing business concerns of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, is exactly what was envisaged by the Federal Government with marginal fields allocation.”
He explained that “the overall expectation was to see indigenous Nigerian Companies do well and the Waltersmith Modular Refinery is a major bright spot which has recently been incorporated into the Nation’s projection for petroleum product sufficiency and availability.”
The Minister, who was accompanied by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) Engr. Simbi Wabote, applauded the Board and Management of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited while imploring that a huge focus should be placed on corporate social responsibility to ensure a sustained and successful relationship with the host community.
He commended Engr. Wabote for executing the project in partnership with Waltersmith, pledging the commitment of the Federal Government in ensuring that the expected completion date and refinery operations commencement date of May 2020, is achieved.
Also speaking during the Minister’s visit, Wabote said that the partnership forged with Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, has shown the power of public-private investments while noting that all the necessary steps have been put in place to ensure the full realization of the objectives of the project.
He further noted that the initial partnership with Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited was stemmed from the quest to achieve President Muhammadu Buhari’s aspiration to improve in-country refined products capacity.
He expressed his optimism that the May 2020 completion date of the phase 1 (5,000 barrels per day) will coincide with the ground breaking for the phase 2 of the project targeted at delivering 25,000 barrels per day crude and condensate refinery; designed to produce gasoline, diesel, LPG, kerosene and aviation fuel.
On his part, the Chairman of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, Mr. AbdulRazaq Isa explained that the reasons for embarking on the Waltersmith Modular Refinery include but not limited to crude loss resulting from crude handling and the cost of crude transportation from the marginal fields owned by Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited.
He noted that the project owners, Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited (70 per cent) and NCDMB (30 per cent) have worked assiduously to ensure the phase 1 delivery timeline which has been pegged at 18 months.
He stated that the phase 1 is expected to contribute about 271 million litres of refined products including Diesel, Naphtha, HFO and Kerosene annually to the domestic market and create both direct and indirect jobs particularly within the host communities.
In his technical presentation, the Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, Mr. Chikezie Nwosu said NCDMB is providing major guidance and contributions on Nigerian Content, Technical and Commercial issues and Corporate Governance for the project.
He recalled that the Final Investment Decision (FID) for the Refinery Project was taken in September 2018 with an 18-month Delivery time from November 2018 to May 2020, for Phase 1.