Waltersmith’s Modular Refinery Begins Operation Q2 2020, Says Wabote

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Simbi Wabote

Peter Uzoho

The 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery being developed by Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemical Company Limited, with equity investment from the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), would be completed in May 2020.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, disclosed this on Monday during the board’s inspection visit to the project site at Ibigwe, Imo State, in company of the Chairman of Waltersmith, Mr. Abdulrasaq Isah and the Executive Vice-Chairman, Mr. Danjuma Sale.

According to Wabote, “the progress completion of the project stands at 65 percent, seven percent ahead of the original schedule. The engineering and procurement components had also been completed, with construction at 60 percent”.

Giving his assessment after taking a tour of the site, Wabote described the project as investment channelled in the right direction and hailed the contractors, Lambert Electromac and Zerock, for their remarkable pace of execution, dedication and expertise. He noted that they continued with the project despite the onset of the rainy season.

The NCDMB boss also expressed delight with the high number of Nigerians working on various aspects of the project, stating that it underscored President Mohammed Buhari’s commitment to create employment for young Nigerians from the activities of the oil and gas industry.

“I hope similar projects would come on stream pretty soon to generate employment for Nigerians,” he said.

In line with the succession plan requirements of the Nigerian Content Act, Wabote charged the contractors to train and absorb more Nigerians in senior management positions and make them permanent members of their companies, even after the project phase.

He also noted that the Ibigwe modular refinery was the first of such projects to be undertaken by the NCDMB and Watersmith, and hinted that the board had sanctioned another modular refinery project to be developed at Calabar, Cross River State.

In his remarks, Isah thanked Wabote and his team for the visit and affirmed that the company was satisfied with the quality of work from the contractors.

He also noted that Waltersmith had been steadfast on its obligations to the firms, saying, “We expect you to remain consistent with us as well. But we are very happy with what we have seen and we are looking forward to commissioning and beginning to sell diesel and kerosene from this site in May 2020.”

One of the Project Managers, Electromac, stated that all outstanding construction at the site were above the ground and being fast tracked. He stated that the installation stage was expected to last four weeks when it begins in October 2019.

Also giving updates on the project, Co-contractor, Chit said the modular refinery project begun on a good footing with the host community and had continued to enjoy conviviality from the local population.

NCDMB and Waltersmith signed the equity investment agreement in June 2018, and Wabote had been quoted to have explained at the ceremony that the investment decision was in line with the board’s “vision to be the catalyst for the industrialisation of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors.”

He added that the board was also keen to support the Federal Government’s policy on modular refineries and meet the key objectives of the Petroleum Industry’s Seven Big Wins launched by President Mohammed Buhari in October 2016 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Programme (EGRP).