Dr. Eruani Azibapu, a Nigerian businessman who signed into existence Azikel Refinery with Ventech Engineering LLC in Houston Texas, has expressed optimism that the project would come on stream in 2018. Eruani, who is the Group President of Azikel Group, signed on behalf of Azikel Petroleum Nig Ltd, alongside the Director of Investment and Strategy, Mr Richard Howarth. The Executive Director Operations, Mr Presley Asemota, the contract for the construction of a 12,000 BPSD Hydro-skyming Refinery with the world global leaders of Modular refinery construction/manufacturing, Ventech Engineering LLC in the United State of America. Azikel Refinery is among the recent 22 licensed Private refinery by President Mohammad Buhari in 2015, in line with his administration’s goal of creating value for the Nigerian crude oil industry to achieve self-sufficiency in refined product and employment generation.
Azikel Refinery, situated adjacent the Gbarain-Ubi Gas Gathering Facility in Bayelsa State, in Obunagha-Gbarain, Bayelsa State. Observers believe the proximity of the Azikel Refinery to the feed stock from Shell has given it a very clear advantage to early start and completion towards meeting the planned commencement of operations in 2018.
For its part, Ventech Enginering LLC, the World leader in Modular Refinery construction, and has manufactured several refineries currently in operation in different parts of the world. At the contract signing ceremony in Houston, the President of Ventech, Ian Anderson, emphasised that the firm’s usual high degree of professionalism would be deployed in the construction of the Azikel Refinery, to ensure that products specifications from the facility meet international standards. According to him, Azikel Refinery will produce high value variants of LPG, Petrol, Kerosene, Avaition Fuel, Diesel and Heavy Fuel Oil. The General Counsel Laura Hotard and The Busines Development Manager, Mr Brian Swientonioski. The event was witness by executives of international banks, Export Credit Agencies, US businessmen and organisations as well as the Nigerian community and friends of Azikel Group in the United States.
The funding for the refinery has been secured from Exim Bank, Export Credit Agencies and EPC Project Finance funding. Mr Dada a US based Nigerian, who has provided international funding of billions of US dollar into Africa was present at the event in Houston. According to him, securing the funding from international organisation is the key success factor for the refinery. Dada said the construction of the project will create immediate economic stimulus in the Nigerian economy, in addition to creating immediate employment during the construction phase and long term employment from its operation. Dada expressed optimism that export credit agencies funds would be available in the US, European and other parts of the world for viable project like Azikel Refinery and encourage more Nigerian businesses to follow suit.
Recall that Azikel Petroleum upon the award of the license to Establish (LTE) in 2015, demonstrated a strong zeal and focus towards the completion of the refinery. Among the 22 licenses approval during the period, Azikel Refinery has moved from the first stage licensing (LTE)to the second Stage licensing of Approval to Construct (ATC) at the 22 licenses given by government only four private refinery licenses have been able to secure the second license. Other licensed refineries include Amakpe International Refinery, Resources Petroleum & Petrochemicals, Hi Rev Oil LImited and Azikel Petroleum Limited.
Obtaining the ATC licensing is seen as measure of seriousness and commitment to the establishment of the refinery. Promoters of Azikel Refinery believe it is still in the lead of the four other companies, having completed land clearing/de-stumping of 50 Hectares of land for the refinery, a reclamation/ sand-filling campaign which lasted for over ten months.
Azikel Refinery plot been completely laid out, with secured fencing completed, roads and Utilities completes. At the operational site of Azikel Refinery, construction of Crude Oil feed stock tanks and refined products tanks have reached a 55% completion. The Execution now of the ISBL Unit, which is the main Modular Hydro-Skimming Refinery from Ventech, when completion of the construction and transportation to the site, will keep the project in tight schedule for operations in the 2018.
Azikel Group which is the sponsor of Azikel Refinery through Azikel Petroleum is committed to the creation of employment, industrialization of Nigerian and sustainability. Azikel Group has create several successful business in the dredging industry with Azikel Dredging Nigeria Ltd. Azikel Group is also a player in the Avaition Sector of the Nigerian economy, with operations of Helicopter Offshore Operations in the Oil and Gas Industry, Schedule and Unscheduled flights, with the Airline Operation Certificate(AOC) granted to Azikel Air, the company has created lots of employment. Also Azikel Group aims at sustaining infrastructural development with Energy sufficiency, the Group is also investing into power generation. The President Mohamend Buhari, administration licenses Azikel Power, which is part of Azikel Group, with on-grid Power generation license of 500MW. It is the hope of Azikel Group, that Nigeria will be self sufficient in petroleum products and Electricty Generation and Nigeria will occupy her prided place in the Committe of Nations in Development.