By Peter Uzoho
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has said that the 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) Waltersmith Modular Refinery project is fully ready for operations.
The Director of DPR, Mr Sarki Auwalu, stated this during a pre-commissioning visit to the project site located in Ibigwe, Imo State recently.
The refinery was officially scheduled for inauguration yesterday (October 26, 2020) but had to be put on hold due the nationwide protest.
Auwalu said the purpose of the visit was to make sure that Waltersmith Refinery was ready to start operations. “We can confirm that the refinery is very much ready to commence operations. We have seen all the preparations. To us, the plant is
alive. The commissioning is just symbolic. Everywhere is ready to start off. My overall assessment is excellent.
“We have been to other modular refineries but we have not seen anything like this: the space, the way it is arranged and the way it will work”, Auwalu said.
The DPR director, however, urged Nigerians to start seeing the agency as an enabler and not a regulator, stressing that their focus was on how to create opportunities for Nigeria’s vast oil and gas resources to be properly managed for the betterment of Nigerians.
According to him, “The role we play is to enable businesses and create opportunities. When DPR issues you a license, it enables you to invest. It is that opportunity we create that enable businesses to grow.”
Auwalu added: “Waltersmith is one of our success stories. We consider the project as ours. We have been tracking their growth and we are happy to see that our child is growing. It is our plan that they expand and they have the potential.”
The 5,000bpd modular refinery has a crude oil storage capacity of 60,000 barrels and is projected to deliver over 271 million liters per year of refined petroleum products comprising of Diesel, Kerosene, Naphtha and Heavy Fuel Oils to the domestic market.
The bulk of the crude supply for this phase will come from Waltersmith’s upstream business with backup from nearby third-partycrude.
“What you see here is a proof of the absolute faith we have in our country. We want to demonstrate that it is practically a waste of resources to produce crude oil and just sell it. It is more impactful to add value and make more significant impact on the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of our nation”, Chairman of Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company, Abdulrasaq Isah, was quoted as saying during the visit.
“This is the first phase of a series of refinery development which will culminate in the delivery of up to 50,000bpd refining capacity that will expand the product slate to include petrol, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Aviation fuel”, he said.
Isah added that the expansion plan consists of 20,000bpd crude oil refinery and a standalone 25,000bpd condensate refinery both of which are at early stages of project development.
On the sustainability of the refinery project, Managing Director/Chief Executive of Waltersmith, Mr. Chikezie Nwosu, said domestic consumption was more sustainable than crude export.
“With export, there are things you do not have control over and for every dollar you gain by exporting crude oil as a commodity, you gain multiples of those dollars in terms of GDP growth by consuming the energy within the economy”, Nwosu said.
Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company obtained License to Establish from DPR in June 2015 and obtained Authority to construct in March 2017.
The company partnered with Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) who are 30 per cent equity holders while the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) committed significant financing to the project.