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Ahmed Dikko’s Transformative Efforts At PHRC

By Adewole Kehinde

The Managing Director, Port Harcourt Refining Company, Mr. Ahmed Dikko, is on course to end the protracted rot in the establishment and ensure it works at full capacity again.

The Port Harcourt Refining Company has witnessed rejuvenation in the last two year since the current Managing Director took over the reins of the company. Before March 2020, the refinery was comatose and regarded as a waste of public resources because it had gulped billions and yet had not worked.

Due to the failure of successive administrations to do the needful, the company has failed to serve the purpose it was built.

Since the approval of $1.5bn by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery, Engr. Ahmed Dikko, has rolled up his sleeves to drive the company to yield the right result with the ongoing extensive rehabilitation of the Refinery.

Since he took over the helm of affairs in March 2020 as the Managing Director of PHRC, Ahmed Dikko has been putting his best foot forward to making PHRC proud again. With the signing of an agreement with EPC Contractors, Maire Tecnimont SpA on April 6 and followed that up with the technical kick-off of this project on May 6, the project activities have swung into action after the contractor shared the detailed project execution plan, the PHRC broke up into discipline sessions with various groups for engineering, quality control, and construction among others.

The ongoing rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery is one of the key planks of this policy.

Given the significance and magnitude of the task, only a thoroughbred, a professional knowledgeable not only in the technical aspects of the job but one also nuanced in the matter of administration and coordination, would effectively deliver on the assignment particularly as President Buhari has set the rehabilitation of the refinery, Nigeria’s largest till date, as one of the priorities of his administration.

It was thus not surprising that the NNPC would turn to Dikko, a man who had in the decades he has worked with the corporation beginning from his first stint at Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Company limited, where he worked in the Operations and Engineering & Technical Services Departments, he has traversed units and departments within the NNPC until finally rising to the position of Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited (PHRC) in March 2020.

He was charged with the key task of delivering the Rehabilitation Project of the Refinery and bringing its facilities to optimal production capacity and sustainable operations. Phase 1 of the Rehab Project which is the integrity study and inspection has been completed. The Project is in the second Phase with the signing of the EPC contract for the rehabilitation with Maire Tecnimont SpA and the subsequent Technical kick off meeting in May, 2021.

Although the approval of the $1.5 billion may seem gleeful for PHRC and indeed the public, it was greeted with mixed feelings. However, Dikko’s reaction remains optimistic. This is as he says they are putting in the energies required nonetheless to ensure they cover all angles.

He expressed, “This way, they can deliver a refinery that can run sustainably and profitably over a long period of time. A lot of people were making all sorts of comments, probably, out of not having the correct information but this is the first time in NNPC that this kind of approach has been taken. So much consultation and transparency went into this process. Right from the bidding process, to the selection of the contractor, and the eventual award of this project.”

In the process of selecting the contractor, he revealed that PHRC had to use reputable international EPC companies to bid for this exercise. In the words of the MD, “this is a very big plus, and the bidding process was quite open and transparent. We utilised other external stakeholders in all these processes that we are doing so that they can contribute and see the openness in it. Clearly, the Bureau of Public Procurement, NEITI, ICRC, and Federal Ministry of Finance among others were there with us. This is unprecedented in the history of project development in NNPC and we are very sure it will yield the right result.”

Notwithstanding, Dikko acknowledged that they got approvals from NNPC management for a robust project management consultant and owner engineer, who would support them as owners in this process to make sure that they truly deliver the project based on what has been scoped earlier in phase one of the project.

“Part of what is in our contract is to make sure, as much as possible, that we use the original manufacturers of these equipment and things that we need to change during this project. Then there is the presence of a lot of the licensors of these process plants here with us like UOP who are licensors to the FCC unit and Axxeis to the KHU are also part of these.

“So you can see it is a robust combination of experience and international bodies that are part of this project. And then to crown it up, we that are here locally as owners in Port Harcourt have a dedicated team that has shown resilience, professionalism, and commitment to ensure that exactly what is captured in our scope of work is what is going to be delivered,” while crossing his heart, “I will like to assure Nigerians and other stakeholders that we would surely get this right; we would put in the energies that is required, and we would make sure that we cover all angles so that together we can deliver a refinery that can run sustainably and profitably over a long period of time.”

Indeed, Dikko, a veteran engineer, declares that the rehabilitation activity is very dear to the staff and management of the company. This is as he shows concern on the safety around the pipelines particularly from the main plants to the jetty. According to the PHRC chief, “We know very well that we truly need to put these barriers together so that we can protect our right of way, our pipelines and also the people who are around these facilities.

He, however, chipped in that in the first phase of the project, they needed to have a robust engagement with the communities so that they can relocate those who are encroaching on the right of ways properly. This, he added, would enable them to have sincere discussions with the communities so they can understand that the benefit of staying away from the right of way of the pipelines is for their safety first.

Dikko acknowledged that host communities engagement is one of the key priorities for the success of this project and PHRC management recognised this right from the earlier days of the award of this contract, hence, the company, through Public Affairs, has been doing a lot of engagement with these communities.

Interestingly, PHRC plans to put out the information correctly about this project as well as manage the expectations of these communities. While their approach is to get the communities to buy into this project and be part of it, the contractors have nominated a community rep that is working closely with the PHRC Public Affairs team in the manner to ensure that the right information is given to the communities. “The expectations are managed and together we can work as partners to deliver this project without any hindrance,” expressing that everything is good, thus, he is very delighted with the efforts so far.

Critics have queried what the government would achieve by injecting such a humongous amount of money into the rehabilitation project. For the purpose of clarity, there are quite a number of benefits in bringing the nation’s refineries back on stream. The project, when completed, would ensure increased revenue and energy sufficiency in the nation and prevent unplanned shut down as well as increasing GDP.

Other benefits will include local production of Aviation Turbine Kero and reduction in foreign exchange demand through reduced importation of petroleum products, satisfying local energy demand, strengthening the Naira by reducing the demand for Forex, and creating thousands of jobs across the value chain (crude supply, operating and maintaining the refinery, product supply etc) including several third-party contractors that will supply outsourced services or goods.

The refined products also will serve as feedstock for small-scale local manufacturing. The most significant and visible benefit is energy security for the country.

For Dikko, he is neither resting on his oars nor allowing the challenges to slam their efforts. While he describes the ride so far as very good, he’s pleased with the cooperation of all staff members of PHRC and the commitment. “So this is what I would like to appeal to everybody around PHRC and indeed NNPC to contribute and dedicate anything possible to make sure that this project succeeds because the whole Nigeria; 200 million Nigerians are waiting for this and we cannot afford to fail.”

Adewole Kehinde is the Publisher of Swift Reporters and can be reached via 08166240846, 08123608662

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