Port Harcourt Refinery to Begin Operations in July

NNPC Seeks To Raise $1 billion For Refurbishment of Refinery

The 210,000-barrel-per-day Port Harcourt refinery is set to commence operations by the end of July after multiple delays.

Chief Ukadike Chinedu, the National Public Relations Officer of the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), disclosed this new timeline on Monday. He indicated that this development would stimulate economic activities, lower petroleum product prices, and ensure a stable supply.

In December of last year, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Heineken Lokpobiri announced the mechanical completion and flare start-off of the Port Harcourt refinery, the largest crude refinery in the city. The facility comprises two units: the older unit, with a capacity of 60,000 barrels per day, and the newer unit, with a 150,000 BPD capacity.

The refinery shut down in March 2019 for the first phase of repair works. The government had engaged Italy’s Maire Tecnimont as the technical adviser for the refinery complex reviews, with Eni also appointed as a technical adviser.

On March 15, 2024, NNPC Limited’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, stated that the Port Harcourt refinery would begin operations within two weeks. Kyari announced this during a press briefing after appearing before the Senate Ad hoc committee investigating various turnaround maintenance projects for the country’s refineries.

“We completed the mechanical works in December. We now have crude oil stocked in the refinery and are conducting regulatory compliance tests required before starting operations. I assure you the Port Harcourt refinery will start in two weeks,” Kyari said.

However, the refinery remained inactive two months after this promise.

In an exclusive interview on Monday, Ukadike described the refurbishment efforts as a complete overhaul, not just rehabilitation, and emphasized that all efforts were being made to meet the July deadline.

“Yes, when we visited, the MD told us that the refinery was almost ready and would start producing by the end of July. It’s essentially a new refinery; they replaced all the armoured cables and other components. The turnaround maintenance is extensive, and work is ongoing day and night to meet the target. By the end of July, the refinery should be operational,” Ukadike stated.

When asked about previous delays, Ukadike noted, “There have been delays, but no specific reasons were given for missing the April deadline. Currently, there are no challenges; the refinery is 99 per cent ready.”

Ukadike expressed optimism about the benefits of competition between refineries. “With both the Dangote and Port Harcourt refineries coming online, petrol prices should decrease. This competition is beneficial for the nation.”

The new operational timeline for the Port Harcourt refinery coincides with the expected commencement of petrol production at the Dangote Refinery by the end of June. Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Group, assured that Nigeria would no longer need to import petrol starting next month, as his refinery would meet West Africa’s petrol and diesel needs, as well as the continent’s aviation fuel demand.

With Nigeria’s average monthly petrol consumption at 1 billion litres, the country currently spends approximately N520 billion on PMS imports monthly. This could lead to a potential reduction of N6.2 trillion in the annual import bill.

NNPC Limited’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Femi Soneye, noted that regulatory approvals from international bodies were the final hurdle before the refinery could commence operations.

“Mechanical completion has been achieved, and all systems are operational, transporting crude oil supplied by Shell. We are only waiting for regulatory approvals, particularly those involving nuclear materials, which require international clearance. Once we have these approvals, operations will begin,” Soneye explained in an exclusive interview.

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