Uche Usim, Abuja
The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, has expressed joy that the Waltersmith Modular Refinery in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State has attained over 90 per cent completion and would soon become operational.
Speaking at a recent inspection tour of the 300,000 barrels per day facility, Sylva, who was accompanied by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr Simbi Wabote, said the pace of work at the site was heartwarming as the Buhari administration was poised to solve the energy needs of Nigeria as quickly as possible.
He noted that the project, when inaugurated, would provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs, generate revenue for the government via taxes and boost the economy.
He assured the management that the government would do its best to ensure that the completion date of May 2020 is realised.
According to him, the incorporation of the modular refinery component in the existing business concerns of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited was consistent with the Federal Government’s blueprint in marginal fields allocation and development.
He stated that the overall expectation of the government was to see indigenous companies excel, noting that the Waltersmith Modular Refinery project remains a shining example of government’s determination to work with the private sector to ensure petroleum product sufficiency and availability nationwide.
Sylva applauded the board and management of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, even as he implored them to take their corporate social responsibilities seriously to ensure a sustained and successful relationship with the host community. He also applauded the NCDMB bossfor ensuring the project was successfully executed, despite the fact that the facility is wholly owned by Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited but with a key equity investment from NCDMB.
In his remarks, Wabote noted that the partnership built with Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited has clearly shown the power of public-private investments, while assuring that all the necessary steps have been taken to ensure the full realisation of the objectives of the project.
He explained that the initial partnership with the company sprang from the quest to achieve President Muhammadu Buhari’s aspiration of improving the capacity of local refiners.
He expressed optimism that the May 2020 completion date of the phase 1 (5,000 barrels per day) would coincide with the ground-breaking for the phase 2 of the project targeted at delivering 25,000 barrels per day crude and condensate refinery.
“It was also designed to produce gasoline, diesel, LPG, kerosene and aviation fuel”, he noted.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited, Mr. AbdulRazaq Isa, stated that the reasons for embarking on the projectwere to help stem the huge losses of revenue to crude handling.
He disclosed that the project is owned by Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited (70 per cent) and NCDMB (30 per cent). He said both partners have worked assiduously to ensure the phase 1 delivery timeline which has been pegged at 18 months. He stated that the phase 1 was expected to contribute about 271 million litres of refined products including Diesel, Naphtha, HFO and Kerosene to the domestic market annually and create both direct and indirect jobs particularly within the host communities.