By Adewole Kehinde
“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him” – David Brinkley
On Thursday, 6th May, 2021, the NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari and officials of Tecnimont SPA attended a kick off meeting on the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery Company (PHRC).
The meeting signified the takeoff of the rehabilitation project which will be funded through internally generated revenue (IGR), Afreximbank and budgetary provisions.
The PHRC operates two refineries; the old refinery with a capacity of 60,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd) and new refinery with an installed capacity of 150,000 bpsd.
The two refineries bring the Port Harcourt refinery’s combined crude processing capacity to 210,000bpsd.
Speaking at the event, Kyari said the Federal Government will support the contractor in ensuring prompt completion of the project.
He urged officials of Tecnimont SPA to ensure that the project is delivered at the scheduled time to help boost the country’s local refining capacity.
“We shall from time to time visit to see the progress of work outside, and sooner than later we shall come on to commission the work,” he said.
“We will support all that is necessary to be done to expedite the rehabilitation; we are ready to support your contract to secure the necessary approvals internally within Nigeria.”
Kyari, who was represented by Umar Ajiya, the chief financial officer, added that the NNPC would provide support to meet the desire of Nigerians to see the corporation refining petroleum products.
He said the project will be monitored by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), ministry of finance, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), among others.
“This is the most transparent contract and we expect the contractor to be excellent with the work,” he said.
“We expect 90 per cent operational values after the rehabilitation of the refineries in production capacity.”
Also speaking, Yinusa Yakubu, NNPC chief operating officer for refineries and petrochemicals, said the kick off meeting signifies the commencement of the rehabilitation exercise.
Yakubu said out of the 3,000 expected employees for the project, only 70 expatriates are expected to be engaged while the rest will be Nigerians.
“Today is a technical meeting and it signifies the start of the project and starting from today, we will be having progress reports,” he said.
In his remarks, Engr. Dikko Ahmed, Managing Director of PHRC, said the government has met with the host communities in building a partnership with them.
He said the communities will benefit from the project beyond the provision of jobs for youths.
“We have met with the host communities, we just don’t want them to create employment, we want them to be partners in this project and we can do it in various ways,” he said.
“For employment, they will have priority in that but there are other things they will require that we will be ready to do for them as we journey into this project.”
On his end, Masu Alberto, the representative of Technimont SPA, said the journey started in 2017 with an integrity test of the refinery.
He said the refinery’s technical building would be refurbished while the firefighting and deluge sprinkler systems will be replaced.
“In 2019, we did work on it and then now we are deploying a good number of engineers. Due to the pandemic, it’s quite challenging deploying people but we have to trudge on,” he said.
Nine months after, amidst growing doubts in some quarters that the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Port Harcourt Refining Company, PHRC, will not produce any meaningful result, the Company’s Managing Director, Ahmed Dikko, has assured that he would deliver a fully rehabilitated, functional refinery to Nigerians in record time.
The determined and result oriented Engr. Ahmed Dikko has stressed that the rehabilitation project would be completed and delivered on schedule, starting with the Old Port Harcourt Refinery. He insisted that he and his team would change the narrative by delivering a working refinery.
To ensure that he walks his talk, the PHRC boss has ensured that every staff of the company, no matter the department, as well as the host communities, is adequately carried along as the rehabilitation work progresses.
He said: “Host communities’ engagement is one of the key priorities for the success of this project and PHRC management recognizes this right from the earlier days of the award of this contract and has done a lot in this regard through the Public Affairs. The first is to put out the information correctly about this project, and the second is to manage the expectations of the communities.
“The approach that we are using is to get the communities to buy into the project and be part of it. So much has been covered and I’m delighted with the way we are going.
“We are going to have the support of the communities. The contractors themselves have nominated a community representative that is working closely with our public affairs team in the manner to ensure that the right information is given to the communities.”
On the role of PHRC’s staff towards the successful completion of the project, Dikko continued: “Everybody is part of the rehabilitation project, and in whatever department you are, you must contribute your own to make sure that we truly succeed.
“Whether you are in the human resources, engineering, or admin department; there is a role for you in the project, and I’m happy that the staff have taken it on, and are looking forward to the actual commencement of activities physically.
“We have gone further again to keep knowledge sharing so that everybody will understand clearly what the project is about, and also the scope of work that we want to do. That way, we’ll have a role to play as it goes on.”
Dikko has also assured that all the processing plants and tanks have been made hydrocarbon-free and parts of the plants have been handed over to the contractors to commence work.
“All the process plants (Fuel plants 1 & 2), power plant and utilities, and jetty have been made hydrocarbon-free in readiness for plant hand-over. The cleaning of 10 outstanding storage tanks offsite is in progress while wastewater treatment is still receiving all the waste coming out of the plant”, he explained.
On what the company is doing to ensure that the contractors deliver on their promises, the MD said: “We have provided tons of reliable information which is required by the contractors to base their activities on.
“It is not a small thing knowing full well that all specs of all the equipment and everything therein that will make the contractor succeed have to be given; all the documentation that we have. So we have done that; we’ve given thousands of documents to the contractor.”
On their part, Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) have vowed to religiously monitor progress of work at the Port Harcourt Refinery, to ensure timely completion of the ongoing rehabilitation work.
Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Abdullahi Gaya, made the vow when he led members of his Committee to the refinery as part of their oversight duties.
Gaya said it behoves on the legislative Committee to ensure that funds allocated and released by the Federal Government for the rehabilitation work were judiciously used, stressing that Nigerians were desperate to see the refinery return to life.
While April 2022 has been fixed for the completion of the project, the Chairman has assured further that his Committee would stop at nothing to track the project in order to keep to the timeline for the resumption of crude oil refining in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
He said, “We are here to see what they have done, even though they said within 24 months (2022) they will be able to complete the work. We hope within that stated period they will be able to finish the project. However, we have told ourselves that in the next three months, we shall come back to see the progress attained for ourselves.”
According to Gaya, “When we came here in 2020, there was nothing and we promised that we were going to do something (towards returning the refinery back to life), and we have kept to our promise.”
Gaya expressed the hope that as it won’t be business as usual in the running and management of the refinery, giving reasons that once it comes back to life, especially under the Petroleum Industry Act regime, Nigerians would see tangible impact.
“We are happy that the PIB has been passed and the PIA as well. As you are already aware, the President has already instructed agencies that are concerned to make sure that it is implemented within a year.
“Without the PIA, we are sure even if the rehabilitation is done, things can go back the way they were. But now with this PIA, a lot of things are going to change and everything will be sustainable by the grace of God,” he added.
The on-going comprehensive rehabilitation of Nigeria’s largest crude oil refining facility, Port Harcourt Refinery, there is no doubt, is in the better hand of Engr. Ahmed Dikko.
Engr. Dikko, who in the course of his career in NNPC, has received commendations, recognitions, and awards. Notably amongst them are the GMDs commendation for roles as a pioneer engineer of the Nigerian Content Division which set the grounds for the establishment of the NCDMB. MD NLNG commendation for the successful commissioning of Train 6 and recently, GMDs commendation for roles in the achievement of the FID for Train 7 expansion Project of NLNG, nominated and voted as the ‘Most Innovative Public Servant of the Year’ at the Democracy Heroes Award 2021,
Dikko, A fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, FNSCh.E, with extensive knowledge in Project Management, Process Engineering and Plant Operations is bringing his knowledge and experience to bear in his new assignment as he had during his time at the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas where between 2006 and 2020 he was part of the success story of Train 6 and Train 7 Projects.
With these various efforts so far, Engr. Ahmed Dikko remains a courageous Engineer with integrity in service and patriotic zeal towards achieving the corporate goal of the Port Harcourt Refining Company in the overall interest of Nigeria as a nation.
Adewole Kehinde is the Publisher of Swift Reporters based in Abuja. He can be reached via 08166240846, 08123608662