from OKORO CHINEDU in Lagos, Nigeria
LAGOS – WHILE it is the continent’s biggest producer of crude oil, the irony is that Nigeria suffers recurrent crippling fuel shortages. It is possibly the only oil-producing country still struggling with the importation of refined petroleum products.
The chronic shortages of the commodity are seen as highlighting the West Africa country’s failure to domestically refine the petroleum products it requires for its own consumption.
Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, has described as “embarrassing” Nigeria’s inability to refine oil in the country.
It is against this awkward position Africa’s biggest economy recurrently finds itself in that an eagerly-anticipated multibillion-dollar refinery, under construction in the commercial state of Lagos, is hailed as a game changer.
The Dangote Oil Refinery, worth US$12 billion (N4,3 trillion), is the brainchild of Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, whose net worth is estimated $13,8 billion.
Over time, it is scheduled to process 650 000 barrels per day (b/d). The plant will start processing oil in 2019.
The Dangote Oil Refinery Company has in preparation for take-off sent in batches of local graduate engineers to the Bharat Refinery in India, arguably the biggest in the world for training in refinery operation and production.
The training at the refinery operated by Bharat Petroleum Corporation is to address the shortage of such experts in Africa’s biggest country population wise (over 190 million people).
Fresh from their training in the Asian country, some graduate engineers have pledged to deploy the knowledge and skills to ensure Nigeria is saved the embarrassment of fuel scarcity when the refinery comes on stream.
Igwe John, a petroleum and gas engineer, said, “The training has boosted our confidence that the Dangote Refinery, with most modern facilities, will eradicate perennial fuel scarcity in Nigeria.”
Opeyemi Oyedepo, a process engineer, stated that the company would henceforth enjoy increased value of human asset, improved ability to implement and realise specific goals within timeframe.
The refinery’s capacity will be 40 percent larger than the current largest facility. It will create about 250 000 jobs and provide foreign currency earnings and savings of $15 billion.
Engr. Babajide Soyode, the Technical Adviser at Dangote Refinery, expressed satisfaction the best graduate engineers were selected as attested to by the trainers in India.
“India has the biggest refinery in the world and is ready to train young engineers unlike the disposition in Europe and other part of the Western world,” Soyode said.
Mohan Kumar, the Dangote Oil Refinery Director of Human Capital Management and Project Support, said the company was laying a solid foundation for takeoff with the training of the engineers.
The graduate engineers spent two months studying theory and month more practising on the job.
Experts with more than 45 years experience in refinery operations trained the graduates.
Kumar said this would address calls for the development of local content in the oil industry.
“The engineers are expected to also transfer the skills acquired to other Nigerians when the refinery comes on stream,” Kumar said.
First Bank National (FBN) Quest Capital, the local market analysts, hailed the coming on stream of the refinery.
“Local refining is the obvious solution. By local, we mean private sector. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) refineries should be allowed to wither away in our view,” the firm stated.
Among these ageing refineries are in Port Harcourt (commissioned in 1965), Warri (1978) and Kaduna (1980).
According to the recent NNPC’s Financial and Operations Report, the refineries reported operating losses for four of the past 12 months.
“The game-changer (therefore) is the Dangote refinery,” FNB Quest Capital stated.
– CAJ News