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Dikko’s Sterling Performance At The PHRC Immeasurable

By Kelvin Adegbenga

After examining all the Government refineries in Nigeria, I decide to write on the Management of Port Harcourt Refining Company because of the unique management handling the Company under the capable and exceptional Engineer, Ahmed Dikko.  

Engineer Ahmed Dikko as the 13th Managing Director of Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited 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 form 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.

Now, let me go into a brief about the Port Harcourt Refining Company. It is a Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited 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.

Poor maintenance of facilities and inadequate manpower has over the years been the major reason for epileptic performance of the refinery.

With a capacity to refine 210,000 barrels per day out of the local capacity of 450,000 the refinery, if well operated, will cater for the large market existing for petroleum products in Nigeria and West Africa.

On 1st of December, 2020, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited opened a new chapter in its refineries rehabilitation project with the public opening of bids for the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction phase of the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC).

The responsibility fell on Engr Ahmed Dikko who noted passionately, “We started working, extending documentation, and plans of how to progress with this project. It took quite some time to establish, based on what is in the contract and based on what the contractor has submitted as his own project execution plan. This is the way projects are developed at this time. So a lot of documentation has been going on; a lot of reviews of plans submitted by the contractor have been going on.”

Contractually, Dikko stated that as owners in Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), they have been very engaged making sure that all the plants are hydrocarbon-free so that eventually, the contractor can be handed over these facilities to begin some inspection and some work physically.

“We have been busy as owners, providing tons of Rely-upon information which is required by the contractor to base their own activities on those. It is not a small thing knowing full well that all specs of all equipment and everything therein that will make the contractor succeed has to be given; all the documentation that we have. So we have done that, we’ve given thousands of documents to the contractor”, he explained.

According to the Engr. Dikko, the contractors came down to site with some of their subcontractors on inspection “around our tankages and some off-site facilities”. He emphasized on the importance for them so that all forms of preparation to physically begin the work.

“The contractor again is proposing to begin what we call ‘early works’, which requires them now to set up their operational office in Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) and then other little activities and how they hope to manage this project. This is where we are today, and it is important because this is how in any project of this nature, the development of the activities take place. So we are very happy with that; we have been getting great support from our own project management consultants and owner engineers on this. We have been working closely with the other RPC support to achieve all these. So this is where we are and we are upbeat and we are sure we are very much on schedule and we will reach there.”

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.

“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 Port Harcourt Refining Company (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 Port Harcourt Refining Company MD, “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 Port Harcourt Refining Company 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, Port Harcourt Refining Company 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 PHCR 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.

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 Port Harcourt Refining Company and the commitment. “So this is what I would like to appeal to everybody around Port Harcourt Refining Company 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.”

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 rehabilitated refinery becomes operational.

Kelvin Adegbenga is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Abuja. He can be reached via @kelvinadegbenga

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