The project execution phase of the $60 million United States Dollars (USD) 5,000 barrels per day Ikwe-Onna Modular Refinery has commenced in Akwa Ibom State.
The Ikwe-Onna refinery, incorporated in 2016, it would be recalled, was granted Authority To Construct (ATC) license barely few months ago by the Federal Government and is expected to start production in 2019-2020.
At a stakeholders and project kick-off meeting at the Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital at the weekend, the Federal Government admitted that, the only way to deal with the proliferation of illegal artisanal mining in the Niger Delta is by the private-sector led establishment of modular refineries.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo who stated this said such move would ease government involvement to fast track the bureaucratic processes surrounding issuance of approvals and licenses.
Osibanjo, who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant on Economic Matters to the President, Mr Iyamu Edobor said he was elated to note that, having completed all the licensing processes and required approvals, everything is now set for the commencement of the actual construction of the 5,000 barrels per day Ikwe-Onna modular refinery.
He noted with satisfaction that the project is being implemented in line with the Federal Government’s New Vision for the Niger Delta, a comprehensive blueprint developed to ensure that the people of the region benefit from the wealth of their land.
“Today, we are here to see first-hand the progress that has been made on yet another modular refinery project. The first two modular refinery development projects taking place under the New Vision for the Niger Delta are currently nearing completion in Delta and Rivers
“They are the Opac modular refinery and Niger Delta Exploration and Production. We also have the Welter Smith Modular Refinery’’.
He said the stakeholders’ event was an opportunity to deepen the engagement between the Government and the private sector and a platform that will enable participants to frankly express their views and proffer suggestions that will result in more positive outcomes for the region.
“The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari is a listening government, and we have clearly demonstrated that over the last three years. It is in demonstration of that, that I am here today to listen and to take useful feedback which will be seriously considered for incorporation into our policy making process.
He commended the investors and promoters of the Ikwe-Onna Refinery on their willingness to partner with the Federal Government in the development of the Niger Delta; saying “this is an investment that will no doubt create jobs and make a positive difference in the lives of the people of this area.”
The Vice President lauded the host community for their support so far to ensure that the project succeeds, urging them to show continues commitment and cooperation for its completion as the project belongs to them.
The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said the initiative of establishing modular refineries are to eliminate the need of petroleum products importation and its pressure on foreign exchange earnings.
Represented by the Director of Oil Services in the Ministry, Engr. Busari Kamaru, the Minister added that modular refineries would create a robust domestic refining sector necessary to meet and exceed the full capacity of national demand.
Besides, he explained that establishing the modular refinery would address the proliferation of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta and environmental degradation, among others.
To achieve this, the Minister said government would facilitate crude commercial agreements from crude oil producers; facilitate ownership-joint venture investments with the host communities and
the state government.
He further said that government would support waiver on import duty rates on machinery, equipment and components for modular refineries as well as facilitate access to the Nigerian Content Intervention (NCI) fund managed by the Bank of Industry (BOI).
The Chairman, Ikwe-Onna refinery, Engr. Bassey Rex noted that Akwa Ibom being the highest producer of oil in the country could not boast of any refinery in operation.
He said the vision to establish a modular refinery in the state was driven by interested stakeholders that are willing to invest in the project in the state.
Rex said the task to establish the refinery and bring it to light was not easy as a lot of huddles had to be surmounted.
He disclosed that the Ikwe-Onna refinery will start production between 2019-2020 and called for more support from the state government in terms of provision of infrastructure as the refinery has come to stay.
In his highlights on modular refineries, the Managing Director of the Ikwe-Onna refinery, Engr. Daminabo Ogaji said Nigeria being one of the highest producers of petroleum products in term of crude requires a lot of refining capacity.
He regretted that almost every petroleum product is imported saying less than 10 per-cent of what is produced is being refined in the country with 90 per-cent exported.
Ogaji described modular refinery as a good business which should be on the front burner of the government policies saying that, there are a lot of room to exploit in the development of that brand of refinery in the country.
He said what really attracted the establishment of the refinery in Akwa Ibom was the fact that, Akwa Ibom is the most peaceful state among the oil producing states in the Niger Delta region.
The Executive Director of Ikwe-Onna refinery, Mrs Dolapo Okulaja-Kotun said the refinery started like a dream when the idea of establishing it was conceived.
According to her, ‘‘initially it was not easy to raise funds as banks, private investors, credit lines from foreign partners were not coming or with the complaint of being a risky venture because there was no assets and financial record of the refinery’’.
The stakeholders meeting was attended by top petroleum industry experts, foreign partners, host community, government functionaries and the media amongst others.