By Lateef Adegbite
Between 2015 and now, the Nigerian government had spent trillions of naira through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now baptized, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, with the passage of the Petroleum Industry PIB, by the National Assembly in 2021 and signed into Law by Presiden Muhammadu Buhari on August same, 2021 or importation of petroleum products into country.
The importation of the Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, Petrol, Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, or diesel, Aviation Jet fuel, and Multi-purpose Dual Kerosene, from the offshore refineries abroad into the country may not unconnected to the fact that the country’s three existing refineries located at Onne, PortHarcourt, capital of Rivers state, Warri, Delta state and the north western city of Kaduna, in Kaduna state, with a combined refining capacity of 445,000 bpd, have been working in bits and fits.
Take for instance, within the first six months of this 2023 Zainab Ahmed the outgoing minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning , had said that the government has budgeted N3. 36 trillion naira for subsidy on Petroleum Products imports into the country. In 2021, the Buhari’s Administration had spent the North American country of the United States, US, $1.3 billion on importing refined products into the country and $10 billion in 2022 and was expected to rise $7.5 billion by mid 2023., according to s ource in Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now baptized, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL.
Given the huge amount spent yearly on Petroleum products importation into the country and the poor state of the nation’s refineries may have encouraged the Buhari’s Administration as at March 2021, to approve 23 Companies licenses for valid refinery projects with a total refining capacity of 1.09 million bpd as recommended by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR. Given the pressure on thepressure on the Department may have informed why it gave additional private refineries and petrochical plants lincense bring the number of valid licenses to as at May 2021, to a total of 68, with the Katsina born Nigerian President but 40 of the Companies, according to informed sources are without refinery license or approval.
The list of some of the private Companies granted licenses to operate refinery and petrochemical plants included Waltersmith Refing and Petrochemical Company Limited, OPAC Refineries, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources,(Train3), Dangote Oil Refinery Company Limited, Edo Refinery and Petrochemical Company Limited, Lowrie Refinery Limited, Excel Refinery Limited, Conodit Refinery Nigeria limited and Duport Midstream.
Others were Clairgold Oil and Gas Engineering limited, Ogini Refinery Limited, Etopo Energy plc, Gasoline Associates International limited, NPDC/Western OML34JV, Frao Oil Nigeria Limited, Kingdom Global Trading Petroleum and Gas Nigeria limited, and Resource Petroleum and Petrochemicals International incorporated.
This is in addition to Gazingstock Petroleum Company limited, Amakpe International refineries limited, Atlantic International refineries and petrochemical limited, Azikel Petroleum limited, Allegiance Energy and power limited and Alexies Refinery limited.
Temipre Sylva, minister of Petroleum Resources and now All Progressive Congress, governorship Candidate , APC, in Bayelsa, former President Goodluck Jonathan had said that the government had equity stake in some of the private refineries. He had said that the government has 30% stake each in Duport refinery and Waltersmith while it has 20% equity shares each in Azikel and Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical plant. The former minister had said that some of the Companies issued operating license have established modular refineries like Walter Smith, Azikel, Anoh and Duport.
Aware of the adverse effect of the planned removal of the Subsidy at the end of June, this year, may have encouraged the Nigerian President who was never tired of borrowing money from the Multilateral Financial Institutions and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, to source for $800 million grant from the World Bank to provide palliatives for the vulnerable Nigerians that may be affected that he was said to have thrown his weight on the Completion of the over $19 billion 650,000 bpd, refinery and petrochemical plant located at the Lekki Free Trade zone, in Lagos the nation’s Commercial nerve centre .
The Nigerian President and the National Economic Council, NEC, under the Chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, may have done their calculation based on assurance from Aliko, Dangote, the multi-billionaire President of Dangote Industries that the refinery first refined petroleum products will hit the Nigerian market before the end of July 2023 or the beginning of August 2023, to stick to the decision of subsidy removal on petroleum products by the end of June ,2023.
The multi-billionaire business mogul who spoke at the inauguration of the 650,000bpd, refinery and petrochemical plant, on Monday, May 22, 2023, had said that ‘’the accomplishment of the feat was to enable the Nigerian government ‘’to eliminate’’ what many had described as ‘’the tragedy of import dependency’’ and stop’’once and for all ‘’toxic , substandard petroleum products from being dumped in the country’s market.
Dangote, was said to have urged Nigerians not to worry about the 650,000bpd, refinery and Petrochemical plant working at its optimum capacity that would give room for expansion in the future, noting that the project was the realiisation of a clear opportunity for the country to take over the African common market epitomized by the African Continental Free Trade Area, CfCFTA.
Given an insider information about the multi-billion dollar, plant, the President, Dangote Industries Limited, had reiterated t that he plan of the Management of the refinery and Petrochemical plant are’’ to run at the highest capacity of utilization to export competitively to other markets in the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and the wider regions, in which 53 countries , in the African Continent out of the 55 are dependent on imports of petroleum products to meet their local markets demand.
Besies servicing the ECOWAS and Cental African sub-regions markets, he had said the plant is also expected to provide provide thousands of jobs to the African most populous African nation’s troubling unemployment rate.
Dangote, the Nigerian business mongol, who could not hide his feelings had said that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and the President –elect, should be thanked for setting the pace for the construction of the multi-billion dollar refinery and petrochemical plant for creating the Lekki Free Trade Zone as part of his dream of developing the state .
He also expressed appreciations to Governors Babatunde Fashola , a former governor of Lagos state and now minister of Works and Housing, Akinwunmi Ambode and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the incumbent governor who were said to have sustained the dream of developing the Lekki Free Trade Zone, for investors, both foreign and local to come in and set up their plants.
He was emphatic that that the past and present governors of the state gave the Dangote Industries’’ all the desired support and assistance they were looking for at the Lekki Free Trade Zone to execute the multi-billion dollar refinery and petrochemical plant’’.
The Dangote Industries President may have given the highest accolade touhari, for his support in ensuring the completion of the 650,000, bpd refinery and petrochemical plant which is expected to churn out thousands of tons of PMS, AGO, Dual Purpose Kerosene, DPK, , among other refined products on a daily basis.
Energy analysts had said that everything about the Dangote plant by way of size has made it the first and the largest single –train refinery in the world that cannot be matched by any offshore refinery and petrochemical plant at the United Kingdom, UK, North American country of the United States, US, Canada, Asian country of China, India, Japan, South Korea, including Germany, France, Belgium, and Netherland in Europe.
The single train refinery and petrochemical plant which an insider had said is expected to use an integrated distillation unit or one Crude Distillation Unit, CDU, to refine crude oil into the various products, that would help the Nigerian government to achieve macroeconomic stability as well as eradicate may of the problems within the nation’s oil sector like crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
Recall that in laying the Foundation ceremony for the multi-billion dollar Dangote industries in 2022, had said that that the project when completed will boost the effort of the Federal government ‘’to make Nigeria self-sufficient in petroleum products .
Given the importance of the 650,000bpd, Dangote refinery and petrochemical plant to the ECOWAS, Economic bloc,Five West African countries Presidents, namely Akufo-Ado of Ghana, Gen. Mahamat Derby, Chad, Mohamed Bazoum, Niger Republic, Macky Sall, Senegal and Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, were said to have been line up to speak at the commissioning of the 650,000bpd, refinery and Petroleum chemical plant by the Nigerian President , were said to have lauded his efforts to industrialise Nigeria and African Continent in General.