The much talked about regional collaboration among African oil-producing countries is beginning to take shape as Equatorial Guinea will be enjoying the support of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and Waltersmith Petroleum Oil Limited will assist Equatorial Guinea to develop modular refineries in the central African nation, so it can process some of its crude oil and derive increased value from the hydrocarbon resources.
The bilateral cooperation was confirmed on Saturday 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 per cent equity investment from the NCDMB.
Commending stakeholders of the Nigerian petroleum industry for the achievements recorded so far with modular refineries, the Lima stated that his country plans to replicate the initiative, so it can stop the wholesome export of its crude oil and begin to add value to the resources.
He 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.”
Noting that Nigeria had vast experience in the hydrocarbons industry, Lima added that Equatorial Guinea would also understudy the commercial aspects of the modular refinery project to ensure that its planned investments would be economically viable.
He underscored the need for knowledge and experience sharing amongst African countries, particularly in the petroleum sector, stating that “there are a lot of things we can learn from brotherly countries and in this case-Nigeria. Rather than go to Europe or United States or Asia, we decided to visit our neighbour, to see what they do.”
He expressed delight that a new dawn had come in the African oil industry and nations needed to start utilizing their crude oil resources more efficiently. ”We cannot continue to export crude oil. We should start processing our products and we are watching what Nigeria is doing and we want to replicate them.”
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary NCDMB 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 per cent 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.”
He also announced that the initial target was to deliver the Ibigwe modular refinery project in two years, but it is now on track to be completed in 18 months. “By May 2020, we are going to commission the refinery and we will also do the groundbreaking of the second phase of the refinery, which will take us to a total capacity of 30,000 barrels of oil per day,” he confirmed.