Dan­gote to save Nigeria the em­barass­ment of fuel short­ages

African Times - - Business - OKORO CHINEDU

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 oil­pro­duc­ing 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 ea­gerlyan­tic­i­pated 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 take­off 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.

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