DPR pays pre-commissioning visit to Waltersmith, confirms suitability of refinery to commence operations

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By Ikenna Omeje

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has affirmed the suitability of the 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) Waltersmith Modular Refinery project for refining operations, after paying a pre-commissioning visit to the project site located at Ibigwe, Imo State.

The Director of DPR, Sarki Auwalu, who said that the purpose of the visit was to make sure that the refinery is ready to start operations said: “We can confirm that the refinery is very much ready to commence operations. We have seen all the preparations. To us, the plant is alive. The commissioning is just symbolic. Everywhere is ready to start off. My overall assessment is excellent.”

“We have been to other modular refineries but we have not seen anything like this: the space, the way it is arranged and the way it will work”, Auwalu added.

Explaining the role the agency is playing to promote businesses, the DPR director said that people should start seeing the department as an enabler and not a regulator as their focus is on how to create opportunities on how Nigeria’s vast oil and gas resources are managed for the betterment of Nigerians.

“The role we play is to enable businesses and create opportunities. When DPR issues you a license, it enables you to invest and as a result, that opportunity we create, that business is enabled”, Auwalu said.

According to Auwalu, “Waltersmith is one of our success stories. We consider the project as ours. We have been tracking their growth and we are happy to see that our child is growing. It is our plan that they expand and they have the potential”.

In his remarks, Chairman of Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company Abdulrasaq Isah,  said: “What you see here is a proof of the absolute faith we have in our country. We want to demonstrate that it is practically a waste of resources to produce crude oil and just sell it. It is more impactful to add value and make more significant impact on the GDP of our nation”,

 “This is the first phase of a series of refinery development which will culminate in the delivery of up to 50,000bpd refining capacity that will expand the product slate to include PMS, LPG and Aviation fuel”, Isah said adding that the expansion plan consists of 20,000bpd crude oil refinery and a standalone 25,000bpd condensate refinery both of which are at early stages of project development.”

Speaking on the sustainability of the refinery project, Managing Director/Chief Executive of Waltersmith, Chikezie Nwosu said that domestic consumption is more sustainable that crude export.

“With export, there are things you do not have control over and for every dollar you gain by exporting crude oil as a commodity, you gain multiples of those dollars in terms of GDP growth by consuming the energy within the economy”, Nwosu said.

The 5,000bpd modular refinery, scheduled for official commissioning on October 26, 2020, has a crude oil storage capacity of 60,000 barrels and is projected to deliver over 271 million liters per year of refined petroleum products comprising of Diesel, Kerosene, Naphtha and Heavy Fuel Oils to the domestic market. The bulk of the crude supply for this phase will come from Waltersmith’s upstream business with backup from nearby third-party crude.

Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company obtained License to Establish from DPR in June 2015 and obtained Authority to construct in March 2017.

The company partnered with Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) who are 30 per cent equity holders while the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) committed significant financing to the project.

The company signed an EPC contract in June 2018 with a consortium of Vfuels and Lambert Electromec.

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