Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Hopes of energy self-sufficiency for the country received a boost last weekend as Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company embarked on the construction of its 5,000bpd refinery located in Ibigwe, Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.
The refinery is the first to be located in Imo State.
Speaking at Ibigwe, Imo State at the ground-breaking ceremony of the refinery, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, Abdulrazaq Isa, said the refinery would change the economy of Imo state and contribute to the fulfilment of the quest for energy self-sufficiency of the nation.
He said the company would in 18 months complete the building of the 5,000bpd capacity refinery and would ultimately expand it to 30,000bpd.
His words: “The 5,000bopd refinery was conceptualised in 2011 to mitigate the frequent outage of the third-party export Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) and to optimise the full value of our produced crude through in-country refining and providing the petrels products for the domestic market.
“Waltersmith would be in a position to contribute about 271 million litres of refined products (diesel, kerosene, HPFO and naphta) annually to the Nigerian economy, serve as an import substitution for meeting domestic demand for foreign exchange from the country’s treasury to import these products.
“The 5,000bopd refinery which we are breaking ground today is the first phase of a much larger development. Ultimately, we plan to increase the capacity to 30,000bopd to process additional products including petrol (PMS) and jet fuel. We have already executed an MoU with PCC of China towards the installation of the additional capacity within 3 years, after startup of the 5,000bopd modular refinery in December 2020.”
While commending the Federal Government and NNPC for encouraging and promoting indigenous participation in the entire value chain of the oil and gas industry, Isa it was the intension of the company to become a fully integrated energy company in the country.
He said: “Today is a very remarkable day in the history of Waltersmith, as it marks our entry into the downstream petroleum sector, which is part of our vision to become a fully integrated energy company contributing meaningfully to Nigeria’s energy security and sustainability.
“This is a significant milestone for indigenous participation in the Nigerian downstream refinery sector.
“Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited was established as an indigenous exploration and production company in 1996 and was awarded the Ibigwe field located in OML 16 (now OPL 2004) in 2003 after participating on the marginal field licensing round specifically designed for indigenous companies.
“Waltersmith has been developing and operating this field through a farm out agreement executed in 2004 with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and its joint venture partners, including the NNPC from which we have enjoyed tremendous support.”
He recalled that Waltersmith had “successfully operated the field with a wholly indigenous technical team, ramping up production from an initial 500bopd to the current level of an average 7,000bopd over a period of 10 years. This was achieved through the deployment of an early production facility (EPF), revamping and upgrading of the flow station from 4,000 to 15,000bopd capacity, carrying out successful development drilling campaigns, gas lift and production optimisation initiatives, all within a robust HSE, risk management and community relations framework”.
He praised the hos communities for providing an environment conducive for interrupted operations, adding that the company was encouraged to carry the locals in its operations.
“Our hosts and impacted communities must be specially recognised and appreciated for their continuous cordiality and partnership in providing a peaceful environment for uninterrupted operations. The unique roles of the state and local governments, the Ezes, elders, youths and women are cherished most heartedly. Waltersmith will remain committed to the development of the communities and making impacts on the lives of indigenes, as highlighted in the GMOU,” he said.
He added, “I would also like to mention that we are currently upgrading our crude evacuation facility to 20,000bpd to accommodate an indigenous third-party producer, through a crude handling agreement (CHA). Waltersmith is open to the utilisation of existing ullage to process, store and transport crude from remote wells and development of nearby small fields of third-party producers that do not justify full scale installation of facilities. This will assure the development and economic viability of such fields, while aligning with the DPR’s goal of facility sharing and collaboration among indigenous companies to ensure maximum returns on investment,” he said.