By Yemie Adeoye
THE Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) Limited, Delta State , has declared new technical feats in rehabilitation and upgrade of its plants which resumed operations in February even as it laments the inability of the company to evacuate stored products which threaten to shut the plants down.
Managing Director of the company, Mr. Andy Yakubu, said in Warri that the plant has exceeded its designed petrol extrusion ratio after local engineers regenerated the fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) of the refinery.
He also sounded an alarm that the refinery which has flooded proximate markets with products and stabilized prices is seriously challenged with product evacuation constraints that threaten to shut the plants down.
In explaining the technical feats of local engineers and contractors, Mr Yakubu said the management of the refinery had assembled a team of in-house engineers and local contractors to deliver on the mandate to reduce fuel queues at filling stations and assist in cutting the nationâ€™s fuel import bills through local refining.
According to him, refusal of expatriate technical partners of the refinery to honour invitation to assist in rehabilitating the refinery offered the local engineers and contractors the opportunity to recover full processing capacity of all the units for the first time in the history of the refinery.
Part of the milestones was regeneration of the FCCU to exceed the premium motor spirit (PMS) extrusion from design capacity of 30 percent per barrel of crude oil to 35 percent, an achievement, he said, which has contributed to greater output of the prime transportation fuel to exceed immediate market demand.
â€œFor the first time in the history of domestic refining, all the process units are running at full integrated operational mode,â€ Mr. Yakubu declared.
Consequently, he pointed out, market turgidity has cleared queues at filling stations and normalized prices as â€˜dealers in Warri and environs now advertise the pms at N65 per liter.â€™
He however pointed out that full stream of the plants has led to storage problems as products storage tanks have filled up following loss of Warri-Benin distribution pipeline and slow load out with road tankers.
Following imbalance between production and off-take, he said, the 125, 000 barrels per day refinery has been reduced to 80 percent installed capacity to process 100, 000 barrels per day.
Consequently, daily output from the plants comprises 4.5 million liters of petrol, 3.0 million liters of diesel, 2.0 million liters of kerosene, 400 metric tons of cooking gas while the remaining are fuel oil.
Managements of both WRPC and sister Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), he said, are working together to address the problem temporarily by deploying coastal vessels to increase volume offtake while other measures are being worked out.
The use of coastal vessels, he added, followed rehabilitation of the Warri Refinery jetty by local contractors.
It was earlier reported that two coastal vessels with combined cargo capacity of 30 million liters of products were loading different products at the jetty weekend while others waited for turns at nearby jetties in the area.
According to Mr. Yakubu, the marine tankers are deployed to ship products from the refinery to bridge supplies to Lagos , Calabar and Port Harcourt where supply gaps still existed.
Other evacuation strategies, he said, are being worked out between WRPC and PPMC to ensure continuous operation of the refinery which, according to him, has contributed in cutting products import by over 40 percent.