Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu on Wednesday in Kwale, Delta State, said two modular refineries will be completed and commissioned by December this year.
The refineries, to located in Rivers and Delta states, are among the 38 that were granted licenses to be constructed and operate in the Niger Delta region.
Kachikwu said the Federal Government’s resolve to establish modular refineries was part of long term plans to end Nigeria’s importation of petroleum products as well as to discourage illegal oil bunkering activities in the Niger Delta.
The minister, who was represented by his Senior Technical Adviser (Refineries and Downstream Infrastructure), Engr. Rabiu Suleiman, spoke when he led a joint team from the ministry, Office of the Vice President, and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to inspect ongoing construction of a modular refinery by Omsa Pillar Astex Company Limited (OPAC Modular Refinery) in Kwale.
He said the team was on ground to provide support and evaluate the performance of what the company is doing to ensure that it was in line with the Buhari administration’s vision of encouraging local production of petroleum products.
“If you recall, sometime last year, the Vice President visited the Niger Delta and made a policy statement that will encourage the establishment of modular refineries. We are happy that we are here today. This is one of the first few that have meant to that promise to deliver on what they have promised to do and today we are happy to see the installation of 7,000-barrel capacity modular refinery. As you can see, Russian Technology is being installed,” he said.
“The commitment we hear is that, within six months from now, the refinery would be completed and we are looking forward to seeing that. In my side talks with the chairman of the company, he is expecting another 45 tonnage of materials arriving on site and that is significant portion.
“If that arrives in the next few weeks, and construction continues and the weather being a good friend, six months will be made and that is going to be a promise fulfilled. By that, we can say by end of the year, we will be coming to witness the commissioning of yet another refinery in Nigeria,” Kachikwu said.
He explained that the commissioning of the two modular refineries, which have reached advanced stages in construction, would send the right signals to other investors who had doubted the federal government’s commitment to invest in the construction of more modular refineries.
“A total of 38 licences have been issued, ranging from high scale refineries of 100,000 to 50,000 barrels had been issued. Out of these 38, about 10 of the modular refineries have advanced and they have all secured what we call ‘permit to construct’, just as it is here. So, with the license to construct the LTA, it means that 10, as at today, are ready to go. This is just one of the ten.
“We have visited others which are also under construction in similar stages as this one. They also gave us six months from last month. Going together, we can see two being commissioned in the next five to six months; and others are on the sea being imported, and we look forward to see many more. The first one that will be commissioned will be a remarkable encouragement to those others who are slowing their feet,” Kachikwu added.
Chief Engineer of the company, Elberd Bilanich, a Russian who conducted the team round the project site, expressed joy at the pace of construction work at the OPAC Modular Refinery, saying that upon completion, the two refineries would refine 7,000 barrels of crude oil each daily.
Senior Special Adviser to the Vice President on Niger Delta Matter, Edobor Iyamu, said the Federal Government would continue to give entrepreneurs all necessary support for quick completion of all ongoing modular refineries in the region.
According to Iyamu: “From the inspection, we understand that they will begin with diesel and kerosene production, but down the line they will venture into the refining of premium motor spirit. This refinery is meant to be a 7,000 barrel per day refinery. We are excited as a government that things are coming to fruition.”
Warri Zonal Operations Controller of DPR, Mr Antai Asuquo, who was represented by the Zonal Head of Gas, Engr. Ignatius Anyanwu, said DPR has deployed representatives to the site to ensure they meet government standards and industry regulations.
Chairman of OPAC Refineries, Momoh Jimah-Oyarekhua, confirmed that the refinery would come on stream by December, disclosing that the company’s production target is 60,000 barrels, but decided to start with 7,000 from where it would expand in phases.
“Generally, our plan is actually to install 60,000 barrels’ refinery eventually in Delta State, and this is our first phase of the refinery. We decided to start from the 7,000 barrels modular and in no time after commission – maybe a year – we are planning to expand to about 13,000 and 20,000 to follow, and eventually to install 40,000 before reaching our desired peak of 60,000 barrels refinery,” Oyarekhua stated.