The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has recorded initial successes in the expected rehabilitation and upgrade of the 210, 000 barrels per day plant of the Port Harcourt Refinery Company (PHRC), with the fixing of the Nitrogen Plant that has been down for over one year.
However, the upbeat in the refinery operations is doused by the rising cases of vandalism on the crude supply and product evacuation conduits connected to the refinery, resulting in suboptimal capacity utilisation.
Maintenance work at the refinery has translated to significant production upside with total volume output of 17 million liters of different products per day.
Spokesman for the refinery, Mr. Ralph Ugwu, told journalists that the company was currently churning out about 7.5 million litres of premium motor spirit (PMS) also called petrol, three million litres of dual purpose kerosene (DPK) and 6.5 million litres of automotive gas oil (AGO) also called diesel at the current capacity utilisation.
Ugwu said the output from the refinery was contributing to the nation’s petroleum product supply pool as part of concerted efforts of NNPC business arms to guarantee availability of fuel for social and economic activities.
The refinery rehabilitation programme, which is part of a comprehensive plan to improve local production of petroleum products aims to displace significant volumes of costly imported products, crash government’s subsidy bills and optimise capacity utilisation in the domestic refining industry.
In a move to recover full nameplate capacity of the plant, according to Ugwu, the management of PHRC activated processes to bring the critical units of the plant back into operation.
He told journalists that the fixing of the Nitrogen Plant had paved way for maintenance and streaming of other vital sections of the refinery, including the Catalytic Reforming Unit (CRU) and Naphtha Hydro-treating unit (NHU).
With restreaming of the three critical units, he explained, over 30 per cent capacity would have been recovered to relaunch the entire refinery into full operation.
Ugwu stressed that the quantity of products from the Port Harcourt Refinery would increase by about 30 per cent after the planned turn around maintenance (TAM) and rehabilitation in the year.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, had unveiled the Kalu Idika Kalu-led committee to conduct a capacity audit on the nation’s refineries after which she declared arrangements to recover the nameplate capacity of the plants.
Managing Director of PHRC, Mr. Ian Udoh, disclosed that 199 incursions on the seven kilometer product line from the refinery to Okrika Jettu were recorded in 2012 alone, resulting in intermittent operations of the refinery due to haulage constraints.
He also pointed at other concerns over the pipeline breaks to include environmental pollution and degradation, huge economic loss and possible fire outbreak in contiguous local communities.