By Obas Esiedesa
The Minister of Information and Culture, Chief Lai Mohammed has commended the Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for completing the 5,000 barrels per day Waltersmith Modular Refinery located in Ibigwe, Imo State.
Mohammed told journalists after a pre-commissioning visit to the plant, that it was one of the major achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari government.
The refinery is scheduled to begin products truck-out by October 14, 2020. It will become the first privately owned refinery as well as the only refinery in operation in the country.
The 5,000 barrels per day refinery which is jointly owned by Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) having 30 percent equity.
Construction work on the refinery started in October 2018 and will commence operations on October 14, 2020, loading out 23 trucks of refined products per day, having concluded off-take arrangements with select firms.
The Minister stated that the completion of Waltersmith modular refinery and conceptualization of similar projects in Bayelsa were key achievementsof President Muhammed Buhari’s administration, adding that modular refineries only became a reality under the present administration despite years of rhetoric by previous governments.
Mohammed described modular refineries as key to meeting the Federal Government’s agenda of increasing local refining capacity, enhancing value addition to the hydrocarbon resources and employment generation.
He gave assurance that government through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and relevant agencies will provide Waltersmith with all necessary support it needs to operate and grow sustainably.
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote expressed pride that the Board moved quickly to invest 30 percent equity in the Waltersmith modular refinery project with the approval of its Board’s Governing Council.
He hinted that the project had several benefits, including generation of direct, indirect, and induced employment opportunities for management staff, plant operators, technicians, drivers, cleaners, suppliers, security personnel and others.
He said that one of NCDMB’s mandates is to develop in-country capacities and capabilities to utilize and add value to the nation’s hydrocarbon resources, while its vision is to serve as a catalyst for the industrialization of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors.
According to him, “this vision contributes to the realization of our 70 percent Nigerian Content target in the oil and gas sector by 2027. Our partnership with Waltersmith and other similar investments are some of the levers we are using to deliver the target growth rate.”
Wabote canvassed that at least 10 percent of Nigeria’s oil production should be refined through the modular refineries.
He noted that an average of ten direct jobs were created for every 1,000barrels/day capacity of modular refinery, hence over 2,500 direct jobs and over 25,000 indirect jobs can be created if 10 percent of Nigeria’s production is refined using modular refineries.
On his part, the Chairman of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, Mr. Abdulrasaq Isah indicated that the company decided to embark on the modular project as a strategy to address incessant pipeline vandalism and theft of its crude oil products.
The project will also ensure import substitution, energy security for the nation, lower of the company’s operating cost and create lots of jobs, he revealed.
He outlined the company growth plans, “part of which is to significantly expand the refinery’s production capacity to 50,000 barrels of crude oil per day”.
He said: “We have started with the first module which is 5000 barrels. The next module will be 25,000 barrels. Then the finale module will be 20,000.
“At that point we will be loading 120 trucks every day at peak production, comprising different products-diesel, kerosene, PMS, HFO and Jet Fuel.”
Lai Mohammed was accompanied on the visit by the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, and the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.