President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday performed the virtual commissioning of the 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) Waltersmith Modular Refinery, developed with 30 percent equity investment by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and described the role played by the Board as novel in concept and superb in delivery.
Mr. President also performed the groundbreaking of the refinery expansion at the Ibigwe field, Ochia Community, Ohaji-Egbema Local Government of Imo State. The new phase will first add 25,000 barrels per day processing capacity, before the final phase of new 20,000 bpd, bringing total capacity to 50,000 bpd.
Delivering his address virtually, President Buhari stated that the deployment of modular refineries was one of the four elements of the Refinery Roadmap introduced the Federal Government in 2018 to meet local needs for petroleum products and eliminate importation.
He assured that Government was making good progress in the Rehabilitation of existing refineries, Co-location of new refineries, and Construction of greenfield refineries, with the firm goal of making Nigeria a net exporter of petroleum products in a few years’ time.
He hailed the bullish expansion plans of Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemical Company and directed the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and other relevant Government Agencies to provide the company all the necessary support with regards to access to crude oil and condensate feedstock for the timely delivery of the additional capacity.
In his speech, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva applauded Waltersmith and NCDMB for embarking on the project in 2018, considering the immaturity and uncertainty in the downstream sector as at that time. ”It is only investors who have faith and believe in Nigeria, with clear delivery strategy that would have had such boldness,” he emphasised.
He clarified that efforts to achieve sufficiency of locally refined petroleum products “has to be a combination of large-scale processing plants as well as small to medium modular processors which will be enabled by our progressive policies and regulations.”
He challenged other investors to take a cue from Waltersmith and speed up action on similar development efforts to jointly grow the nation’s economy.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote provided the basis of the Board’s equity investment in the 5,000bpd Waltersmith Modular Refinery. He hinted that Section 70(h) of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act mandates the Board to assist local contractors and Nigerian companies to develop their capabilities and capacities to further the attainment of Nigerian Content in the oil and gas sector of the economy.
He indicated that “this refinery creates job opportunities and business prospects, enhances availability of petroleum products, and provides ready market for some of our crude cargo within our shores. At current capacity, this refinery will utilize about 1.8million barrels of crude oil. At the completion of the expansion works, this will increase to more than 16million barrels of crude and condensates every year.”
The Executive Secretary confirmed that NCDMB was also in partnership with other investors for the construction of a 2,500bpd modular refinery in Edo State, which will later be expanded to 10,000bpd and another 12,000bpd hydroskimming refinery in Bayelsa State, that will produce a full slate of petroleum products to serve immediate and nearby markets.
He canvassed that at least 10 percent of Nigeria’s oil production should be refined through modular refineries, noting that an average of 10 direct jobs are created for every 1,000barrels/day capacity of modular refinery. “We believe that about 3,000 direct jobs and over 100,000 indirect and induced jobs can be created if 10 percent of Nigeria’s oil production is refined using modular refineries.”
The Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma while delivering a goodwill message lauded President Buhari for providing purposeful leadership and conducive investment climate that enabled the establishment of the Waltersmith Modular Refinery within two years of conception. He recalled that successive administrations had awarded licenses for similar projects, with none of them coming to fruition.
He assured that the Imo State Government will partner with the host communities to protect the investment, while charging the company to discharge its statutory obligations to government and perform its corporate social responsibility to the communities.