By G9ija

The federal government has said that the various modular refineries under construction in different parts of the country are part of the country’s push towards energy sufficiency in the nearest future.

It boasted that modular refineries only became a reality under the present administration despite years of rhetoric by previous governments, noting that the mini refineries remain key to meeting its agenda of increasing local refining capacity, enhancing value addition to the hydrocarbon resources and employment generation.

Speaking during a visit to one of the refineries built by Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, stated that the completion of the modular refinery and conceptualisation of similar projects in Bayelsa State were key achievements of President Muhammed Buhari’s administration.

The minister toured the project located at Ibigwe, Ohaji/Egbema local council, Imo State, along with the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma; the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; and the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote.

The federal government applauded both parties for their effective partnership that led to the record completion of the Waltersmith 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery within two years.

The building of the modular refinery started in October 2018 and will commence operations on October 14, 2020, loading out 23 trucks of refined products per day, having concluded off-take arrangements with select firms.

According to the minister, the government, through its relevant ministries and agencies, will provide Waltersmith with all necessary support it needs to operate and grow sustainably.

In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB expressed his delight that the board moved quickly to invest 30 per cent equity in the modular refinery project with the approval of its governing council.

He hinted that the project had several benefits, including generation of direct, indirect and induced employment opportunities for management staff, plant operators, technicians, drivers, cleaners, suppliers, security personnel and others.

He said that one of NCDMB’s mandates is to develop in-country capacities and capabilities to utilise and add value to the nation’s hydrocarbon resources, while its vision is to serve as a catalyst for the industrialisation of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors.

He said: “This vision contributes to the realisation of our 70 per cent Nigerian content target in the oil and gas sector by 2027. Our partnership with Waltersmith and other similar investments are some of the levers we are using to deliver the target growth rate.”

Wabote canvassed that at least 10 per cent of Nigeria’s oil production should be refined through the modular refineries.

He noted that an average of 10 direct jobs were created for every 1,000 barrels/day capacity of modular refinery, hence over 2,500 direct jobs and over 25,000 indirect jobs can be created if 10 per cent of Nigeria’s production is refined using modular refineries.

In his welcome remarks, the Chairman of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, Mr. Abdulrasaq Isah, indicated that the company decided to embark on the modular project as a strategy to address incessant pipeline vandalism and theft of its crude oil products.

According to him, the project will also ensure import substitution, energy security for the nation, lowering of the company’s operating cost and creation of lots of jobs.

He outlined the company’s growth plans, part of which, he said, 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.

“At that point, we will be loading 120 trucks every day at peak production, comprising different products-diesel, kerosene, PMS, HFO and Jet Fuel,” he said.

He confirmed that lloa-out of products will commence on October 14, starting with diesel, to be followed closely with the commencement of phase two of the project.

Isah also endorsed the federal government’s deregulation of the downstream subsector, remarking that it will bring in more investors into the petroleum sector.

“The removal of subsidy has created a market for what we are doing. It also facilitates our ability to raise financing for the next module we will be doing,” he said.