Nigeria Reduces Importation As Waltersmith Refinery Begins Operation

… Buhari Orders Adequate Crude Supply To  Refinery

Yemisi Izuora 

President Muahammdu Buhari has said that Nigeria is closer to achieving its desire to be self sustainable in domestic crude refining and becoming net exporter of petroleum products.

The president noted that already product Importation has reduced as the refinery began initial operation.

The president made the remark while commissioning the 5, 000 barrels a day Waltersmith Modular Refinery and groudbreaking ceremony of the 45,000 barrels daily refinery on Tuesday at Ibigwe Field, Ohaji Egbema Local Government area of Imo State. 

Buhari, while inaugurating the project virtually, directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, to make adequate crude oil supply to the refinery. 

He said sustained feedstock supply will enable the refinery achieve its expansion initiative which is targeting 50,000 barrels a day in the its second phase with 45 000 barrels daily capacity.

Buhari, also restated the country’s determination to be a net products exporter not only in Africa but beyond.

The elated president said the completion of the project is a milestone in the present administrations policy to upscale local refining and build local capacity 

He recalled that several companies have been issued operating licenses but no one came to fruition except the Waltersmith Modular Refinery, which in addition to advancing economic prosperity of the country will create thousands of jobs.

The president stated that the Modular Refinery policy roadmap initiated in 2018 with four cardinal projections aims at collocation of new refineries and construction of greenfield refineries to transform Nigeria into products exporting nation.

He said that Federal Government through the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board initiated the novel concept of collaboration in refinery projects which prospectively resulted in the construction and completion of the Waltersmith project.

In his speech, the Minister of state for petroleum resources Timipre Sylva said that the country is targeting 250,000 barrels a day refining through the Modular Refinery roadmap.

Sylvia said that Government has taken bold steps in stabilising the downstream oil sector with removal of petroleum subsidy and transition to deregulation of the sector. 

He said, the idea is to free the market for private sector participation and driving competition with better products and better customer services.

According to him, the subsidy withdrawal has frees resources for government which will enable it deploy critical infrastructure for economic development. 

On his part, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kyari,  said with the spate of development in the refining sector, Nigeria will become net products exporter by 2023.

Kyari said that with the commissioning and incremental value addition to crude oil there will be sharp drop in products importation.

He assured full collaboration with management of the refinery to sustain its operations.

Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State in his speech commended the policy direcrion of president Muhammadu Buhari which has made the state first beneficiary of an economically viable project.

Uzodinma noted that the project will bring enormous prosperity to the state through taxes and the people through job creation.

He said that the policy direction of the present administration is aimed at making the national economy private sector driven. 

The governor assured Waltersmith of adequate security as the government has declared zero tolerance to criminal activities. 

Earlier chairman of Waltersmith group, Abdulrazaq Isa said already the refinery has injected 5 million litres of petroleum products into the domestic market.

Ida, disclosed that at full capacity after the expansion, the refinery would be supplying 2.7 billion litres of petroleum products into the domestic market. 

Oriental News Nigeria reports that the modular refinery has a crude oil storage capacity of 60,000 barrels and is projected to deliver over 271 million liters per annum of refined petroleum products which include Kerosene, Diesel, Naphtha and Heavy Fuel Oils to the domestic market. 

The bulk of crude oil supply for this phase will come from Waltersmith’s upstream business with backup from the OML 53 (Ohaji South) Seplat/NNPC JV third party crude currently processed at Waltersmith Ibigwe Flowstation and additionally from the 2020 Marginal Fields Bid Round for a nearby asset.

Abdulrazaq Isa, Chairman, Waltersmith Group says “the first module being commissioned today is 5,000bpd refining capacity. We are looking at 50,000bpd refining capacity that will come with the planned additional 2 modules; 25,000bpd and 20,000bpd refining capacity respectively which will then add PMS, Aviation fuel and LPG to the product slates.”

Waltersmith obtained the ‘License to Establish’ the modular refinery from DPR in June 2015 and got the ‘Authority to Construct’ in March 2017. The company then partnered with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) to raise the required financing. NCDMB are 30 per cent equity partners while AFC committed senior secured credit facility towards the project.

“From the very day we keyed into this project in line with the President’s aspiration to grow the country’s oil refining capacity, we felt very happy that we are associated with Waltersmith, a serious-minded company”, said Simbi Wabote, Executive Secretary, NCDMB.

The company signed an EPC contract in June 2018 with a consortium of V-fuels and Lambert Electromec. 

The construction of the modular refinery commenced in October 2018 and was delivered in less than 24 months, ahead of schedule but its official commissioning originally planned for May was postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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