By Obas Esiedesa
Plans by oil rich Equatorial Guinea to develop modular refineries would be supported by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and Waltersmith Petroleum Oil Limited.
The refineries would enable the central African nation to process some of its crude oil and derive increased value from the hydrocarbon resources.
The bi-lateral cooperation was confirmed after the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote and Chairman Waltersmith, Mr. Abdulrazaq Isah hosted the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Equatorial Guinea, His Excellency Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima at the 5000 barrels a day Waltersmith modular refinery being developed at Ibigwe in Imo State, with 30 percent equity investment from the NCDMB.
Obiang Lima who commended stakeholders of the Nigerian petroleum industry for the achievements recorded so far with modular refineries, stated that his country plans to replicate the initiative, so it could stop the wholesome export of its crude oil and begin to add value to the resources.
Lima said: “We believe that with this cooperation and experience between our country and Waltersmith and the Nigerian petroleum industry, we should be able to replicate it”.
He noted that Nigeria had vast experience in the hydrocarbons industry, and added that his country would also understudy the commercial aspects of the modular refinery project to ensure that its planned investments would be economically viable.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Simbi Wabote described the cooperation between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea as a perfect example of the benefits of the recently signed Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA), which encourages African countries to trade and cooperate among themselves.
He maintained that governments and businesses in Africa needed to cooperate closely and lift the continent out of its present state, rather than depending on foreign assistance and aid.
Wabote highlighted the local content benefits of the Waltersmith modular refinery, noting that “it is being built by a local company and 90 percent of the workers are Nigerians. Most of these will be replicated to create jobs and put young people out of idleness.”
Welcoming the Minister, Chairman Waltersmith Petroleum Oil Limited informed that the company participated in an international tender in Equatorial Guinea and was declared the winner in one of the offshore blocks.
Isah thanked the Government of Equatorial Guinea for the opportunity to participate in the tender, be properly evaluated and declared winner of the asset and explained that ”part of what we indicated to them was our capacity to plan and execute projects and we have submitted that to them.”
He also assured the Minister of Waltersmith’s commitment to invest in Equatorial Guinea and support the development of the hydrocarbons industry, adding that “we see a lot of opportunities and similarities about our two countries and we are going to share our experience, capacity, technology and knowledge base that we have as Nigerians who have operated in this industry in the last 50 years.”