The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is impressed with the progress made in the Eko Refinery and Petrochemical Company Limited.
It commended the management for the level of work done so far, assuring of its continued support.
USTDA’s Acting Director, Thomas Hardy, made the commendation during the inspection of the 20, 000 barrel per day production capacity modular refinery project at Tomaro Island, Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos.
Hardy said the agency is impressed with the level of activities done so far on the project, saying “we will continue to help in sourcing for financiers through companies in America that will support the refinery project for speedy completion.
“We are proud to support this project and this will lead to infrastructure development and economic growth in Nigeria. This project represents an excellent opportunity for U.S. businesses to export technologies and services to support refining goals of Nigeria,” he said.
He said in 2017, USTDA invested in the engineering design of Eko Refinery and Petrochemical to make the vision of Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho a reality.
“The idea, which is expanding the petrochemical industry is bringing jobs into the Nigerian economy. Generally, strengthening the Nigerian economy became paramount by the success of this project,” he added.
Hardy said the move by the U.S. Government was also to see a closer bilateral cooperation between the United States and Nigeria, saying “most importantly, investing in private companies and leaders in the business community can move projects to generate jobs and growth in the Nigerian economy.
“I am impressed with what I saw. When we got involved in the very early stage, we knew that there was going to be hurdles. So, we decided to invest and bring technical experts into Nigeria to help Iheanacho lay forth the plan he needed to move forward to get the finance to move this project for implementation.
“This is exactly what we intended to do. Our investment is going to be making those connections to finance the project. Anything that can help him achieve his vision for Nigeria and growth of Tomaro Island is our goal right now,” Hardy said.
USTDA Country Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, Ms Shannon Roe, said the agency decided to visit the refinery because it was geared toward creating value in Nigeria. Roe said one of the reasons the agency came for inspection was to see the level of activities that have taken place since the last time we came in 2017.
She also expressed the hope that the proposed 200,000 bpd production refinery would attract more investments to the country and develop the host communities.
“The grant in 2017 was meant for detailed engineering design and development of the proposed refinery in Tomaro Industrial Park in Lagos. I feel honoured to be part of the success story. I also promise to support the projects to actualisation,” she said.
Chairman, Eko Refinery and Petrochemical Company, Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho, lauded the USTDA’s support to the development of the refinery. He said the agency had the mandate to help local companies and trading entities to develop contact with their equivalent counterparts in the US.
He said the company had completed the planning stage, drawing-up of the feasibility map and detailed work on front end engineering, which met the Department of Petroleum Resources’ and US’s specifications.
He said DPR had given the approval to construct, adding that “in the scheme of our current national priorities, the requirement to develop indigenous refining capacity on Nigerian soil is very high indeed.
“Local refining capacity will allow us realise our ambitions with respect to import substitution potential, leading to great savings in scarce foreign exchange (forex) requirements.
“Local refiners will facilitate the goals of value addition to our oil trade as well as lead to lower costs of consumed refined products in the country. We intend to have recourse to traditional and special funding sources in our search for investment funds for our refinery development project,” Ihenacho said.
He said $120 million was expected to complete the refinery, adding that they were awaiting some firms that had shown interest in financing the project and handling the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) work.
Ihenacho said the company would soon embark on the construction of the crude distillation unit, which will cost about $32 million. This will be followed by civil and other engineering structures construction, which will take about seven months.
“We appeal to the Federal Government for support the actualisation of the refinery. We want to say to the government that what we are doing is absolutely unique and to tell them to try and understand the sacrifices we are making.
“This is not about making money but to realise that Nigeria must move away from being net consumers to being refiners of the product; to build people who can refine their crude and export and to generate more jobs for ourselves. It will also ease transfer of technology to our people and reduce the cost of energy consumed in the country.”
He added that soon the ground breaking ceremony of the refinery would be done.
The community representative, Chief Lamina Akinsode, said the 24 communities, including the Tomoro Island, supported the siting of the refinery. He said the project will bring development to their communities, adding that many youths in the community will be employed.
He urged the USTDA to support the project for the growth and betterment of their communities.
In 2017, the USTDA approved a grant of $1million (N360million) for the engineering design of the refinery.