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Port Harcourt Refinery To Begin Operation In July | Citizen NewsNG

ByCitizen NewsNG

May 21, 2024

Port Harcourt Refinery 

 

By Tanko Lami

Following several postponements, the 210,000-barrel-per-day Port-Harcourt refinery is on track to commence operations by the end of July.

The National Public Relations Officer of the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, disclosed the new date on Monday.

He said the development would stimulate economic activities, lower the price of petroleum products, and guarantee sufficient supply.

In December of last year, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, revealed the mechanical completion and flare start-up of Port Harcourt’s largest crude refinery.

This complex consists of two units: the older plant with a refined capacity of 60,000 barrels per day and the newer plant boasting 150,000 BPD.

The refinery’s closure in March 2019 marked the onset of its first phase of repair works, initiated after the government enlisted technical advisors from Italy’s Maire Tecnimont and oil major Eni to oversee the refinery complex’s assessments.

Recent developments have indicated progress towards the refinery’s revival. On March 15, 2024, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari announced plans for the Port Harcourt refinery to commence operations within approximately two weeks.

The NNPC boss revealed this during a press briefing following his appearance before the Senate Ad hoc committee probing the nation’s refinery turnaround maintenance projects.

He said, “We did a mechanical completion of the refinery that was what we said in December. We now have crude oil already stocked in the refinery. We are doing regulatory compliance tests that must happen in every refinery before you start it, and I assure you that this Port Harcourt refinery will start in two weeks.”

Despite the assurance, the machinery had still not commenced operations two months after the promise was made.

In an exclusive interview on Monday, the IPMAN official asserted that the completed work signaled a comprehensive turnaround, rather than mere rehabilitation, they emphasized that every endeavor would be undertaken to adhere to the July deadline.

Ukadike said, “Yes when we visited the place, the MD told us that the refinery was almost ready and by the end of July, they would start producing. It has been turned into a new one they changed all the armoured cable to brand new and everything there is almost like a brand-new refinery.

“The turnaround on maintenance is very massive and the job is being done day and night. All hands are on deck to make sure that they meet that target. By ending of July the refinery should be ready.”

When questioned about the government’s numerous pledges to initiate the project, Ukadike acknowledged, “Yes, there have been delays, but they did not provide any explanation for the last deadline’s delay in April.”

“They are not facing any challenges at all; I can say the refinery is 99 per cent ready.
“What we want is competition. I am very sure that with the two refineries, the price of petrol will be reduced. Dangote is coming soon and the Port Harcourt refinery is almost ready too and that is very good. We need that competition for the benefit of the nation.”

The new timeline aligns with Dangote Refinery’s proposal to begin petrol production by the end of next month (June).

Speaking at the Africa CEO Forum annual summit in Kigali, Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, assured Nigerians that in accordance with the Dangote Refinery’s plans, Nigeria would cease petrol imports starting next month. He emphasized that the refinery could cater to West Africa’s petrol and diesel requirements, as well as the continent’s aviation fuel demand.

With Nigeria’s current monthly consumption of 1 billion liters, the country spends approximately N520 billion on petrol imports every month.

This suggests that the government could potentially reduce its yearly import bill by approximately N6.2 trillion.

In his remarks, Femi Soneye, the NNPCL Chief Corporate Communications Officer, highlighted that regulatory approvals from international bodies remained the sole obstacle preventing the refinery’s operational launch.

In an exclusive interview with the PUNCH correspondent on Monday, Soneye reiterated that mechanical completion had been attained, with all pipes operating flawlessly to transport crude oil supplied by Shell.

He said, “We have said that the mechanical completion has been done and every other thing is done. There is crude oil and all the pipes are working; we are only waiting for regulatory approvals. Like I said, some of our materials and the things we use have to do with nuclear and we need the nuclear authorities to give us approval to use all those things at the site.

“And some of these approvals come from bodies outside of Nigeria. Until they give us those approvals, we can’t begin operations. We are ready to go but if something happens without it, which would be another issue.

Everything has been completed in terms of our work, and once we get those approvals, it will start operations.”

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