Why Buhari Bowed To Pressure To License Modular Refineries

By Stephen Ubanna

 More facts have emerged why President Muhammadu Buhari a retired army General, who incidentally, is Nigeria’s minister of Petroleum Resources, gave approval for the establishment of modular refineries to complement the existing pants in the country. Modular refineries, according to energy experts   are mini-refineries with capacities ranging from 1,0000b/d to 10,000b/d, which can be assembled and separated easily for enhanced performance and efficiency in the production of Petroleum products: diesel and Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, Petrol.    

The Katsina born Nigerian President was said to have licensed++ the modular refining companies to stop the activities of the illegal refiners of Petroleum products across the country, particular, in the Niger Delta states, of Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa, home state of former President Goodluck Jonathan, to make Petroleum Products available and eliminate importation as well as export to countries in the west and Central Africa sub-regions markets.

  Recall that the Nigerian President had promised to roll out the modular refineries in 2018, ‘’to stop the activities of the illegal refiners which were scattered all over the Niger delta region. There was a case of a barely educated female illegal refiner in Delta state, who was said to have employed over 1000 graduates.

 A  Lawyer , who was at this year’s Real News Magazine and Publications, Limited, promoted by Maureen Chigbo, a one-time General editor, in the defunct Newswatch Magazine,   9th anniversary Lecture, in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center,  had drawn the attention of Kesiye Wabote, an Engineer and Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, during questions and  answer sessions, to the  woman  illegal refiner in delta state and the need  to  give her License to do what she is doing.  

Wabote: Executive Secretary, NCDMB

  He may have taken advantage of the opportunity provided by the Real News Magazine, an online  publication, anniversary Lecture, on Thursday, November 18, 2021, to speak out on the government approval of  establishment of modular refineries and how ‘’it would eliminate the activities of the illegal refiners that  are scattered  all over the Niger Delta region.

  He had called on the Nigerian investors to take advantage of the two billion people African continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA, market, with a $3.4 trillion Gross Domestic Product, GDP, to hasten up on the construction of their plants.  He had said that AfCTA, which took effect from January 1st, 2021, with Headquarters in Accra, Capital of the West African country of Ghana, would eventually turn Africa into the world’s largest intra-regional trade area.

According to trade experts, AfCTA was meant to fundamentally address the low intra-regional trade in Africa, estimated at 17, compared to 69%   among the member countries of the European Union, EU, and 59% attainable in the Asian Continent.   But with the Licensing of the modular refineries, he had opined that it will provide huge opportunities for cross-border infrastructure ‘’to unlock the development of the country’s oil assets, Eng. Waabote, who could not hide his feelings  had  opined that the industrialization of Africa lies at the heart of AfCTA.

 Informed sources told The Value News online that the retired army General had granted licenses to 65 Nigerian Companies out of the 285 applications that were said to have been screened for the purpose. 

He is optimistic that with the Petroleum Industry Act, which had unbundled the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, into  three Organisations: Nigerian Petroleum Regulation Commission, Nigerian Petroleum Assets Management Company,  and National Petroleum Company  and Petroleum Equalisation  Fund,  ‘’it will bring sanity into the operation of the modular refineries in line with obtains in  other  parts of the world.

Some of the licensed companies that were said to have shown seriousness with the construction of their modular refining plants were  OPAC refineries, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources, Edo Refinery  and Petrochemical Company Limited and Lowrie Refinery Limited. Others are Excel Refinery in Bayesa state, Conodit Refinery Nigeria Limited, Duport Midstream in Delta state, Clairgold Oil and gas Engineering Limited,  Ogini Refinery Limited,  Etopo Energy plc and Gasoline Associates International Limited  and Fao Oil Nigeria Limited.

Edo Refinery At Ikpoba : Soon To Be Commissioned

This is in addition to  NPDC/ND Western OML34 JV, Kingdom Global Trading,  Petroleum And  Gas  Nigeria Limited,  Resource Petroleum and Petrochemicals  International Incorporated, Gazingstock Petroleum Company Limited,  Amakpe  International Refineries Limited, Atlantic International Refineries and Petrochemical Limited, , Azikel Petroleum Limited, Alexis Refinery Limited, Allegiance Energy  and Power Limited. Some of the Companies were said to have completed Construction on their plants, awaiting Commissioning, while some were said to have reached various stages of completion. The good news was that   Eng. Wabote, led NCDMB,had injected equity capital Funds in some of the modular refineries, forcing the companies to show more commitment.

  The Wabote led agency, according to a source had injected equity capital funds in some of the modular refineries. One of them was the Ologbo, modular refinery in Ikpoba –Okha, Local government Area of Edo state, currently being developed by the two Asia country of China firms: AIPCC Energy Limited and Peiyang Chemical Company Limited. The mini-refinery has a capacity to process 6,0000b/d.

 The agency was said to have also injected equity capital Funds in the 2,000b/d, modular refinery plant in Brass, Bayelsa state. The Companies handling the construction of these modular refineries in Edo and Bayelsa states may have shown high level of seriousness because of the involvement of NCDMB in the projects.

 It is instructive to note that the modular refinery in Bayelsa state was currently being developed by the state government in partnership with the Atlantic International Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited. There is no gain saying the fact that the Brass modular refinery project, was the fourth of its kind to be supported by the NCDMB, under the Buhari Administartion’s plan to use modular refineries ‘’to drive the development of the Niger Delta region’’.

 It was said to have also invested on the 12,000b/d Hydroskimming  modular refinery  under construction  at Obunagha, Gbarain, Bayelsa, by Ezikel Perroleum Ltd and the 2,5000b/d,  modular refinery  being deloped  by Duport Midstream  Company   in Egbokor, Edo state.  It had injected equity capital funds into the 5,000/d Waltersmith modular refinery that had been Commissioned at Ibiqwe in Imo state, south east Nigeria by the retired army General.

Eng Wabote And Other Discussants At Real News Magazine Lecture

 An elated  Wabote, the NCDMB  boss, had said that   these projects when fully completed and commissioned   will ‘’ensure  value addition  to the nation’s crude oil production,  grow the country’s  refining capacity  to improve product availability , create more jobs in the industry  and curb pipeline vandalisation’’.

Even President Buhari had said during a nationwide broadcast to mark the country’s 61st Independence anniversary that   by tDecember 2021, going by fillers from the Chinese firms handling the construction of the Edo 6,0000b/d modular refinery which had been corroborated by Godwin Obaseki, the state governor, the mini-refinery will be commissioned while the 2,000b/d, Brass modular refinery would be commissioned in 2022.

Meanwhile the two mega refineries  still under construction in Lagos and akwa Ibom states by Dangote Industries, which has Aliko Dangote, a business mogul as the President and the Akwa Ibom state government respectively, are said to be various stages of completion. This may have informed why the Nigerian President could beat his chest that’’ the country’s roadmap in meeting on Local demand in refining of Crude oil is on track’’.

In a related development, the Buhari led All Progressive Congress, APC, government appears to have piled up pressure on the Banks to stop funding the search for Crude oil production but focus on Research and Development that will assist the country in developing alternative sources of energy supply as obtained in several other parts of the world.

 Nigeria had huge coal deposits for electricity generation which could have been developed over the years but was abandoned by successive Administrations with the discovery of oil in the Niger delta in the late 50s, which had put the country where it is today.

Going by what is happening in the North American country of the United States, US, United Kingdom, UK, Belgium, Netherlands and other developed economies which are  gradually resorting to alternative sources of energy supplies in their respective countries to reduce the dependence on oil it may adversely affect the production of oil tools, in no distant future, as the countries could come up with policies that  affect production of such tools as the country do not have the technology  to bridge the gap.

 This should  encourage the Nigerian government to  to develop the coal deposits found in Enugu, Kogi and other states of the Federation to boost the country’s energy supply. The country should take a cue from the Asian country of China that had depended on mostly on coal as its source of energy supply to run the country’s economy without failing the heavy industries.        

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