EDITORIAL: Rehabilitation Of The Port Harcourt Refinery: Good Progress So Far

The Port Harcourt refinery, located in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, has been operational since 1965. It is the oldest and biggest of the three government-owned oil refining sites in the West African country.

The Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), is the owner and operator of the refinery.

The oil refinery complex consists of 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) old refinery that started operations in 1965 and a 150,000bpd new refinery that came on stream in 1989.

Despite having a combined crude processing capacity of 210,000bpd, the Port Harcourt refinery, like other state refineries in the country, has been operating only at a fraction of its capacity over the last few decades due to process inefficiency and lack of maintenance. This has led to the growing reliance of Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude producer, on imports of refined petroleum products.

The Federal Government approved $1.5 billion in spending to rehabilitate and upgrade the Port Harcourt refinery complex, which commenced on May 6, 2021.

The key contract for the refinery modernisation was also awarded in the same month.

The Port Harcourt refinery rehabilitation project, being undertaken in three phases, is expected to be completed by 2024. NNPC aims to restore the Port Harcourt refinery complex to 90% of its design capacity by the end of 2022.

The refinery will begin production in the first quarter of 2023 with 60,000 barrels per day and subsequently 210,000 bpd in the last quarter of 2024 to complete the renovation.

Recall that the President Buhari government had paid and processed $332 million to Tecnimont for timely completion, with $194 million disbursed already, while $98 million and N17.2 billion were processed.

Recalled also that the last Turn Around Maintenance on Port Harcourt Refinery was done in 2000, adding that up till 2018 the refinery was not operating optimally, hence shut down deliberately for the purpose of the ongoing rehabilitation.

The Group Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari, has also assured Nigerians of its resolve to complete the ongoing rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery by March 2023.

Kyari gave the assurance during the resumed investigative hearing into the state of the refineries in the country, held by the House of Ad-hoc Committee chaired by Hon. Ganiyu Johnson.

According to him, the contract, which kicked-started on May 6, 2021, had attained a 30 percent completion level overall, with a target of March 20, 2023, while part of it would be delivered within 32 months, and the entire project is expected to be completed within 42 months.

In line with the above, the Italian company, TecnimontSpa, charged with the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery, recently recorded 1 million man hours without a Lost Time Injury (LTI).

The refinery will begin production in the first quarter of 2023 with 60,000 bpd, then 210,000 bpd around 2024 to complete the renovation.

The commendation must go to the management of the Port Harcourt Refinery under Engr. Ahmed Dikko, who has written his name in gold. Also, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited must be commended for his transparency in the handling of the project, while overall commendation goes to President Buhari for the rehabilitation of the refinery after several failed turn-around management attempts from the past administration.

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