…Targets nation’s 10% fuel in 5yrs
Africa’s top oil producer, Nigeria is moving ahead with mini-plants in an effort to help end its dependency on fuel importation.
The focus on mini-plants is part of a wider initiative to have the tiny plants making at least 10% of the nation’s fuel within five years, Bloomberg has reported.
Nigeria’s first modular refinery, built by independent producer, Waltersmith Petroman Oil Ltd., began operations in Imo state earlier this month. Waltersmith owns a 70 per cent stake in the new facility — which will initially produce mainly diesel, kerosene and naphtha – with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB holding the rest.
The company is seeking to expand output at the plant tenfold in the next three years, eventually producing more gasoline.
“The plan to commence the expansion of the capacity of the refinery to 50,000 barrels a day to refine crude oil and condensate is an important aspect of the economic reform the country is undergoing,” President Muhammadu Buhari said via video conference during the ceremonial opening of the refinery on Tuesday.
He instructed all government agencies and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to help ensure Waltersmith has access to crude and condensate feedstock.
Nigeria, which imports almost all of its fuel at a cost of about $7 billion a year, has been trying for years to upgrade its four aging state-owned refineries, decades-old plants that have a production capacity of 445,000 barrels a day.
Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, is also building a 650,000 barrels-a-day plant in the Lagos creeks, though it’s not expected to be in operation before late next year at the earliest.
Bloomberg noted however that the Waltersmith facility may solve Nigeria’s dependence on imports because its 5,000 barrels-a-day capacity is equivalent to about 1% of the country’s fuel imports.
However, the government has licensed a total of 40 mini-refineries. At least 80,000 daily barrels of modular refining capacity is expected to be completed in the next five years, according to Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr Simbi Wabote.
By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja