December 1, 2022

Dikko: Making Port Harcourt Refinery Work Again

6 min read

In 2021, Group Managing Director Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Mele Kyari announced the cheery news to the nation that the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) would be coming alive in no distant time. The contractors for the project have been mobilised. Good news!

PHRC produces Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), Kerosene (aviation and domestic), Automotive Gas Oil (AGO – diesel), Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) and High Pour Fuel Oil (HPFO).

While the outfit also produces UNLEADED gasoline that meets international standard, it has to its credit in-house firefighting capabilities.

The Plant has been shut down for a comprehensive rehabilitation that would ensure the refinery produces at a minimum of 90%. Maire Tecnimont, an Italian firm and representative of the Original Refinery Builder, is handing the rehabilitation expected to be fully completed in 40 months. The exercise has commenced and is ongoing.

Engr. Ahmed Dikko

And this is one task that will bring the expertise of Engr. Ahmed Dikko, the PHRC Managing Director to the fore. He was appointed March 2020 with the sole task of delivering the Rehabilitation Project of the Refinery. The objective of the Project is to bring the 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.

His pedigree

Dikko has extensive knowledge in Project Management, Process Engineering and Plant Operations. He joined NNPC in 1986 and began his career in Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Company Limited, Kaduna where he worked in the Operations and Engineering & Technical Services Departments. He rose to the position of Superintendent, Process Engineering and participated in many process improvements in the Refinery. He was transferred to the then newly formed Nigerian Content Division in the Corporate Headquarters Abuja as one of the pioneer engineers in 2005. Engr. Dikko was then seconded to NLNG in 2006 for the commissioning of the Train 6 Project and this signified the beginning of a successful career within the LNG business which spanned over 14 years. In 2010, he returned to the LNG Division in CHQ Abuja where he worked in Brass LNG Project and rose to the position of Manager.

Engr. Dikko was appointed General Manager, New LNG Projects in 2016 with the task to develop other LNG opportunities like Floating LNG, Small Scale LNG and the utilization of domestic LNG in Nigeria. In 2018 he was redeployed to the office of General Manager NLNG in the LNG Division. Engr. Dikko worked closely with other Shareholders of NLNG and the Company to achieve the Final Investment Decision (FID) for the Train 7 expansion Project which has been on the drawing board for over 13 years.

During his time in the LNG Department, he brought about improvements in the Governance processes which ensured that NNPC derived maximum benefits from her investment across the whole LNG value chain i.e. from Gas Supply to Midstream investment and for the first time, Downstream products uptake and marketing of LNG for NNPC. Engr. Dikko acted as the Group General Manager (GGM) LNG before his appointment as MD, PHRC.

In the course of his career in NNPC, he 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. Engr. Dikko was nominated and voted as the ‘Most Innovative Public Servant of the Year’ at the Democracy Heroes Award 2021.

Engr. Dikko holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Post Graduate Diploma in Management, a post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration and Higher National Diploma (HND) in Chemical Engineering. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers (NSCh.E). He was born in Zaria, Kaduna state on 22 May 1964. He is married with 5 children.

Engineer Ahmed Dikko is the 13th Managing Director of Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited (PHRC).

Brief Profile

The PHRC is an NNPC subsidiary in business to optimally process hydrocarbon into petroleum products for the benefit of all stakeholders. The company’s vision is to be an innovative international hydrocarbon processing company of choice.

PHRC houses about 47% of Nigeria’s in-country refining capacity. It is one of the three refineries owned by the Federal Government. The others are Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) and the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical company (KRPC). Operating at full capacity, PHRC produces 11.5 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) daily; 5 million litres of Kerosene and over 9 million litres of Diesel per day. The refinery is expected to operate at least at 90% of its installed capacity at the completion of the ongoing rehabilitation.

PHRC Limited is made up of two refineries. The old refinery commissioned in 1965 with current nameplate capacity of 60,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd) and the new refinery commissioned in 1989 with an installed capacity of 150,000 bpsd. This brings the combined crude processing capacity of the Port Harcourt Refinery to 210,000 bpsd. It has five (5) process areas – Areas 1-5. The new refinery is made up of Areas 1-4 while the old refinery is Area 5.

Area 1 is made up of the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) and the Vacuum Distillation Unit (VDU).

Area 2 is made up of Naphtha Hydrotreating Unit (NHU), where naphtha is hydro-desulphurised; the Catalytic Reforming Unit (CRU), responsible for upgrading naphtha to reformate which has a higher octane value; the kero Hydrotreating Unit (KHU) where kero is treated to make it acceptable for aviation use: Area 2 also has the Continuous Catalyst Regeneration Unit, which constantly reactivates the deactivated catalyst from the reformer. Other units in Area 2 include, the Hydrogen Purification, Fuel Gas Vaporizer, Sour Water Treatment and Caustic Treatment units.

Area 3 is made up of a Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU), where Vacuum Gas Oil (VGO) and heavy diesel oil are cracked to obtain more valuable products, like PMS and LPG. Other units in Area 3 include the Gas Concentration, Gas Treating and Mercaptan Oxidation units.

Area 4 has three process units namely Dimersol, Butamer Isomerisation and Alkylation units. The units are designed to produce high octane gasoline blend component.

Area 5, which is the old refinery, is made up of the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU); the Platform Unit (CRU), the LPG Unit, as well as utilities section.

The platformer (CRUII) processes the straight Run Naphtha from CDU II. Unlike the Continuous Catalytic Reforming Unit (CCRU) of NPHR, this plant is of the semi regenerative type with a fixed catalyst bed and the catalyst regeneration is carried out inside the reactor after a long period of operation.

The refinery is self-sufficient in power and utilities generated from the Power Plant & Utilities. There are four (4) turbo-generators each with a capacity of 14MW of electricity per hour and four (4) Boilers, capable of generating 120 tons of steam each per hour. The section also generates cooling/service water, plant/instrument air and nitrogen. Following a 20-year power purchase agreement between NNPC and Genesis Electricity Limited, PHRC has three TM2500 + Gas turbines installed. The TM2500+gas turbines provide both the baseload and backup power to support refining operations.

Main Process Control Room

The refineries’ operations are controlled by a Distributed Control System (DCS) which continuously monitors the plants’ operating parameters, information on operating conditions such as flow rates, levels, temperatures and pressures are gathered and displayed on the computer consoles from which plant operators monitor and adjust unit conditions.

The refinery has a pool of maintenance personnel that take care of routine, programmed and emergency repairs of equipment.

There is also the Supply Chain Management Department that oversees the procurement and storage of needed spare parts and chemicals.

Recently, a Commercial Department has been established to coordinate the commercialisation of some of the products of the Refinery.

The Finance and Accounts Division is responsible for recording all financial transactions, ensuring inflow and outflow of funds and preparation of financial reports to aid management decision. Its divided into three (3) departments namely Treasury, Management and General accounts. Other sections are Insurance and commercial.

Without doubt, Dikko is on the way to making history as Nigerians keep a close tab on him to see how he superintends over the rehabilitation of the nation’s largest oil refining plant.

But with his sterling performance in the earlier assignments, analysts believe his over three decade experience will count when the rehabilitation proper begins.

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