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Fresh Update Emerge On Port Harcourt Refinery Operation

The Port-Harcourt refinery is expected to start operations by the end of July, as recently announced by the National Public Relations Officer of the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu.

According to him, the refinery, with a capacity of 210,000 barrels per day, when fully operational, is anticipated to boost economic activities, lower petroleum product prices, and ensure sufficient supply.

Last December, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, revealed the completion of the mechanical work and the commencement of flaring at the largest crude refinery in Port Harcourt.

Naija News understands that the refinery consists of two units: the old plant, capable of refining 60,000 barrels per day, and the new plant, with a capacity of 150,000 BPD.

Following the shutdown in March 2019 for initial repair works, the government enlisted the services of technical adviser Maire Tecnimont from Italy to oversee the refinery complex reviews, with Eni serving as the technical adviser.

On March 15, 2024, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, informed that the Port Harcourt refinery would start operations in approximately two weeks.

This announcement was made during a press briefing after Kyari’s appearance before the Senate Ad hoc committee investigating the turnaround maintenance projects of the country’s refineries.

“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,” Kyari had said.

However, two months after this announcement, the refinery is yet to begin operations, Naija News reports.

During an interview on Monday, the IPMAN representative, Ukadike, highlighted that the project completed signified a total transformation, rather than just a repair job, underscoring the commitment to meeting the July deadline.

“Yes, when we visited the place, the MD told us that the refinery was almost ready and that they would start producing by the end of July. It has been turned into a new one. They changed all the armoured cables to brand new ones, 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,” he told The PUNCH.

When reminded of several promises by the government to kick start the project, Ukadike replied, “Yes, there have been delays but they didn’t tell us any reason for the delay of the last deadline given 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 Dangote Refinery is set to begin petrol production by the end of next month, coinciding with the implementation of a new timeline.

Aliko Dangote, the Chairman of the Dangote Group, made this announcement during his speech at the Africa CEO Forum annual summit in Kigali.

He assured Nigerians that the refinery’s plans would eliminate the need for petrol imports in Nigeria starting next month. Dangote also mentioned that the refinery has the capacity to meet West Africa’s petrol and diesel demands and the entire continent’s aviation fuel requirements.

Currently, Nigeria spends approximately N520bn on importing PMS every month, with an average consumption of 1 billion litres. If the refinery becomes operational, the government could potentially save around N6.2tn annually on import bills.

On his account, the NNPCL Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Femi Soneye, stated that the only obstacle to the refinery’s operational commencement is obtaining regulatory approvals from international bodies.

Soneye, who spoke to newsmen on Monday noted that the refinery’s mechanical completion has been achieved, and all pipes are functioning smoothly 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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