By Sebastine Obasi
The completion of the 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery located at Ibigwe, Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, has been described as a landmark achievement of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited.
The Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, who was represented by Yusuf Usman, Chief Operating Officer, Gas & Power, during a pre-commissioning visit to the plant, said that the modular refinery which is part Nigeria’s push towards energy sufficiency reinforces the Federal Government’s agenda of increasing local refining capacity, enhancing value addition to the hydrocarbon resources and employment generation. “It is a landmark achievement and it shows that we can actually refine our crude oil in-country”, he said.
Kyari gave assurance that the NNPC as the industry regulator and key stakeholder will collaborate with relevant entities to provide Waltersmith with all the necessary support it needs to operate and achieve its growth plans for the refinery.
“We will work closely with Waltersmith to ensure that it gets enough crude feedstock it needs to operate seamlessly. We are also looking forward to the Phase 2 of the project when the refinery will start producing premium motor spirit (PMS) which we largely need in this country”, Kyari said.
The 5,000bpd modular refinery is scheduled for official commissioning on October 26, 2020, with products truck-out beginning immediately, having concluded off-take arrangements with select firms. “We will be producing 271 million liters of petroleum products to meet some of the requirement of South Eastern market”, Abdulrasaq Isah, Chairman of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited said. Isah said that Waltersmith decided to embark on the modular refinery project as a strategy to address incessant pipeline vandalism and theft of its crude oil products.
“As we began to work on the modular refinery project, we started to see the economic value and impact on Nigeria. The project will also ensure import substitution, energy security for the nation, lower of the company’s operating cost and create lots of jobs”, Isah stated. 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”.
“We have started with the first module which is 5,000 barrels. The next module will be 25,000 barrels. Then the finale module will be 20,000.
Speaking on the impact of the project on its immediate host community, Chikezie Nwosu, Managing Director/Chief Executive of Waltersmith said that during the construction stage, the project created multiples of jobs and this will be expanded when it goes into full operation after the commissioning. “When the tankers start lifting products, you will see immense impact on job creation, growth of the SMEs in the communities around with the attendant growth of the local GDP”, Nwosu added.
Construction work on the refinery started in October 2018 and was heading for completion ahead of schedule but the Covid-19 pandemic led to a little delay until now.