Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, commissioned the first phase of a 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) modular refinery in Ibigwe, Imo state.
He also directed Minister of State and Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR) and all other relevant government agencies to provide all the necessary support to the WalterSmith Refinery located in Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of the state with regards to access to crude oil and condensate feedstock.
The president spoke at the virtual inauguration of the 5,000 barrels per day Waltersmith modular refinery as well as the ground breaking ceremony for the phase two works to expand the capacity of the refinery to 50,000 barrels/day.
According to him, the commissioning was in fulfilment of his administration’s Refining Roadmap rollout in 2018, to address challenges in the downstream sector.
He explained that the deployment of modular refineries was one of the four key elements of his administration’s Refinery Roadmap rolled out in 2018.
In a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari described plans to commence the expansion of the capacity of the refinery to 50,000 barrels per day to refine crude oil and condensates as an important part of economic reforms the country is undergoing.
In line with his administration’s agenda on jobs creation, the president said he was pleased to note that hundreds of direct and indirect jobs were created during the construction of the first phase of the project in addition to the various business opportunities.
Equally, he expressed hope that the construction of the second phase of the project will create bigger additional employment opportunities.
Chairman of Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company, Abdulrazaq Isa, said the refinery has a crude oil storage capacity of 60,000 barrels and is expected to deliver about 271 million litres of refined petroleum products, including diesel, kerosene, heavy fuel oil (HFO) and naphtha, per annum to the domestic market and create both direct and indirect jobs particularly within host communities.
He explained that the 50,000bpd refining capacity will come with the planned additional two modules: 25,000bpd and 20,000bpd refining capacity respectively which will then add premium motor spirit (PMS), aviation fuel, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to the product slates.
Buhari also performed ground-breaking for the 45,000 bpd second and third phases of the refinery.
Governor Hope Uzodinma appealed to Waltersmith to ensure that all Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) signed are implemented, adding that as a private sector friendly administration, he will ensure smooth operating environment.