A new chapter will be added to Nigeria’s oil industry history on Tuesday, 24 November, when President Muhammadu Buhari will commission the Waltersmith 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery at Ibigwe, Ohaji/Egbema local government area of Imo State. This will no doubt boost the image of the Muhammadu Buhari government which has always been a butt of attacks for importing fuel, despite the country’s huge hydrocarbon deposits.
The minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Timpre Sylva and Imo State governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, other functionaries of the administration, captains of oil industry, regulatory officials and others will join the President for the historic occasion. Moreover, Buhari will also lay the foundation for another refinery by Waltersmith that will be producing 45,000 barrels per day o Tuesday.
There is no doubt that stakeholders, community leaders and top oil operators will receive this development with éclat.
At a recent pre- commissioning visit to the refinery, Yusuf Usman, Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power was quoted by Leadership: “It is a landmark achievement and it shows that we can actually refine our crude oil in-country.”
The modular refinery, according to the report, has a crude oil storage capacity of 60,000 barrels and is projected to deliver over 271 million liters per annum of refined petroleum products, including Kerosene, Diesel, Naphtha and Heavy Fuel Oils, to the domestic market. The bulk of crude oil supply for this phase will come from Waltersmith’s upstream business, with backup from the OML 53 (Ohaji South) Seplat/NNPC JV third party crude currently processed at Waltersmith Ibigwe Flowstation and additionally from the 2020 Marginal Fields Bid Round for a nearby asset. Chairman, Waltersmith Group, Abdulrazaq Isa, said,
“The first module to be commissioned tomorrow is 5,000bpd refining capacity. We are looking at 50,000bpd refining capacity that will come with the planned additional two modules; 25,000bpd and 20,000bpd refining capacity respectively which will then add PMS, Aviation fuel and LPG to the product slates.” Waltersmith obtained the ‘License to Establish’ the modular refinery from DPR in June 2015 and got the ‘Authority to Construct’ in March 2017.
The company, as Leadership put it, “then partnered with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) to raise the required financing. NCDMB are 30 per cent equity partners while AFC committed senior secured credit facility towards the project.
“From the very day we keyed into this project in line with the President’s aspiration to grow the country’s oil refining capacity, we felt very happy that we are associated with Waltersmith, a serious minded company”, said executive secretary, NCDMB, Simbi Wabote.
“The company had in June 2018 signed an EPC contract with a consortium of V-fuels and Lambert Electromec. The construction of the modular refinery commenced in October 2018 and was delivered in less than 24 months, ahead of schedule but its official commissioning originally planned for May was postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”