The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has commenced the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery in Rivers state.
In March, the federal executive council (FEC) approved the sum of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation exercise.
The repair, which will be executed by Tecnimont SPA, an Italian company, will be done in three phases of 18, 24 and 44 months.
On Thursday, Mele Kyari, NNPC group managing director, and officials of Tecnimont SPA attended a kick off meeting on the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery Company (PHRC).
The meeting signified the take off of the rehabilitation project which will be funded through internally generated revenue (IGR), Afreximbank and budgetary provisions.
The PHRC operates two refineries; the old refinery with a capacity of 60,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd) and new refinery with an installed capacity of 150,000 bpsd.
The two refineries bring the Port Harcourt refinery’s combined crude processing capacity to 210,000bpsd.
Speaking at the event, Kyari said the federal government will support the contractor in ensuring prompt completion of the project.
He urged officials of Tecnimont SPA to ensure that the project is delivered at the scheduled time to help boost the country’s local refining capacity.
“We shall from time to time visit to see the progress of work outside, and sooner than later we shall come on to commission the work,” he said.
“We will support all that is necessary to be done to expedite the rehabilitation, we are ready to support your contract to secure the necessary approvals internally within Nigeria.”
Kyari, who was represented by Umar Ajiya, the chief financial officer, added that the NNPC would provide support to meet the desire of Nigerians to see the corporation refining petroleum products.
He said the project will be monitored by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), ministry of finance, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), among others.
“This is the most transparent contract and we expect the contractor to be excellent with the work,” he said.
“We expect 90 per cent operational values after the rehabilitation of the refineries in production capacity.”
Also speaking, Yinusa Yakubu, NNPC chief operating officer for refineries and petrol chemicals, said the kick off meeting signifies the commencement of the rehabilitation exercise.
Yakubu said out of the 3,000 expected employees for the project, only 70 expatriates are expected to be engaged while the rest will be Nigerians.
“Today is technical meeting and it signifies the start of the project and starting from today, we will be having progress reports,” he said.
In his remarks, Dikko Ahmed, managing director of PHRC, said the government has met with the host communities in building a partnership with them.
He said the communities will benefit from the project beyond the provision of jobs for youths.
“We have met with the host communities, we just don’t want them to create employment, we want them to be partners in this project and we can do it in various ways,” he said.
“For employment, they will have priority in that but there are other things they will require that we will be ready to do for them as we journey into this project.”
On his end, Masu Alberto, the representative of Technimont SPA, said the journey started in 2017 with integrity test of the refinery.
He said the refinery’s technical building would be refurbished while the firefighting and deluge sprinkler systems will be replaced.
“In 2019, we did work on it and then now we are deploying a good number of engineers. Due to the pandemic, it’s quite challenging deploying people but we have to trudge on,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have criticised repair of the refinery with some stakeholders calling for its privatisation.
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