The need to have more refineries in Nigeria has been a front-burner issue not just to the Federal Government but private investors in the country’s oil and gas industry.
Nigeria currently has four refineries, which are located in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri, with a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day but the refineries have continued to operate far below the installed capacity for many years.
The country relies heavily on importation to meets its fuel needs.
The need for modular refineries, particularly in the Niger Delta area of the country, has never been so urgent and the government has been encouraging investors to look at this direction.
In view of this, the Ondo State government has partnered with Crown Refinery and Petrochemical Limited to build a modular refinery in the coastal area of the state.
The state, in partnership with the firm, has agreed to establish the modular refinery and unlock job opportunities for residents.
It was gathered that the state would provide only the land while the company will provide the equipment and the personnel, some of whom would be employed from the state.
To set the ball rolling, the state and the company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the multimillion-dollar project proposed to be sited in Ugbonla and Ogboti coastal towns in the Ilaje Local Government Area of the state.
It was learnt that the project would foster the development of the area and consequently boost the economy of the state, as it was projected to employ over 2,000 people, both directly and indirectly.
The state Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, while receiving the MoU from the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Sunday Abegunde, who had earlier signed the document with the representatives of the company, expressed delight over the development.
Considering the number of benefits both partners would get from the project, Akeredolu pledged to give the necessary support to the project.
According to him, the door of the state is open to all genuine investors to do business with it, and his administration is committed to making the state a business hub for investors.
He said, “Ondo State is safe for investors; we will do everything to ensure that this project is successful. Ondo State is strategically positioned among the Niger Delta States and Lagos State, which is the nation’s economic nerve centre, to make all business-minded investors reap bountifully from their investments in the state.”
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer, Crown Refinery and Petrochemical, who led the team to the governor’s office, Mr Kassim Adeleke, said the company had approached some states for the establishment of the project but was not welcomed.
According to him, the company’s core business is to refine crude oil into petroleum products.
He explained that the refinery would be designed to process both imported paraffin and Nigerian crude into petroleum products, oils and lubricants.
Adeleke said, “The proposed initial design capacity of the plant is about 30,000 barrels per stream day, which is expected to be completed within 36 months. This can be scaled to 60,000 bpsd.
“We are going into the business of refining crude oil. The government of Ondo State would provide the enabling environment and incentives to support us as we actualise this vital investment.
“Apart from the project having the capacity to refine crude oil, it will also be producing 120,000 tonnes of base oil and 25,000 tonnes of lubrication oil on a yearly basis.
“The company will also be providing several infrastructural projects in the states and would create about 2,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities for indigenes of the state. It would also give scholarship to indigent students in the host communities.”
He said in Ondo State, he found professionalism, swift decision making, friendly communities and passion, such that in less than one year of opening talks with the state government, the company was set to commence the project.
Giving more details to journalists about the project, Adeleke said $500m would be spent at the initial stage, saying the money would be sourced from the development partners of the company.
He also allayed the fear of the negative environmental effects of the project, saying every necessary factor had been taken care of.
“We are still going through the due diligence process and the final figures will be made public when that is completed. The initial cost of the project is $500m, bearing in mind ancillary projects, like power and other infrastructure developments,” he added.
Apart from the government partnering the company, there was an indication that the residents of the communities would welcome the development as there was no opposition to it from any quarter.
Some of the residents of the communities even volunteered to accompany the representatives of the company to the sites where the projects would be sited.
A local chief in one of the communities, who did not want his name in print, expressed the support of the residents to the project. But he urged the management of the company to consider the indigenes of the area for employment for the project.
“We will be happy if this project is finally sited in our community; it will bring development to our community. We want to appeal to the management of the company to consider our children for employment whenever the work begins,” he urged.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Segun Ajiboye, said the project was part of the commitment of the government in promoting economic development in the state.
He said, “It was part of our investment drive to provide employment and boost the internally generated revenue of the state; it is going to be a laudable project.”
A financial analyst, Mr Kunle Akinloye, commended the government and the company for initiating the partnership.
He said the project would largely benefit the state in the area of IGR and employment generation.
“Modular refinery is a very big project; if well implemented, the government would rake in money in terms of IGR while a lot of people would be employed and make a living from it,” he added.
Another public affairs commentator, Mr Oluwaseun Ojo, who described the project as laudable, urged the government to put into consideration the environmental impact of the project on the host communities.
He said, “We have to commend the state government for allowing this kind of project to come up in this state. However, the government and the company must prevent environmental hazards, which the refinery may cause to the health of residents of the host communities.
“The government must not look only at the benefits of the project but the environmental impact must also be considered too.”