The Federal government on Thursday kick started the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refineries.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony in Port Harcourt, Dr Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director of NNPC, said the move was part of government’s effort to achieve 90 per cent local refining capacity.
The first refinery in port Harcourt was commissioned in 1965 to process 60,000 barrels of oil per stream day as well as the new plant commissioned in 1989, which has a capacity of 150,000 bpsd.
Both oil refineries possess a combined capacity of 210,000 barrels per stream day making it the “biggest oil refining company in Nigeria”.
He said that the rehabilitation would be in two phases adding that both the ENI and the original builders would participate in the process.
Baru said: “We appreciate the commitment of the managers of the port harcourt Refineries because you know how important NNPC attach to the revamping of the refinery for it to make impact and boost local refining.
“NNPC is committed to see it come back on stream.”
He said that the refineries had not undergone any Turn Around Maintanance since 2000.
He said: “This project is in phases, this refinery has not done TAM since 2000, so, in this particular phase, we are essentially going to open up every equipment and also review every flow system that is here.
“We also look at all the flushes ,the transmissions ,essentially, this is on thorough inspection and where infridgment is minimal, it will be fixed and we close back the system.”
He noted that the Corporation had made cost effective arrange in the rehabiltation saying “Giving figure as amount to spent, i dont think it is a fair thing to do until you open up then you place”.
He said that ENI, NNPC joint venture with Agip, had agreed that they would open up their warehouses of refineries to give Nigeria required equipment forthe rehabilitation.
He said: “They will open up and take some of their equipment and we pay back later.
“That is a lot of grace instead of waiting on manufacturers, these equipment if we want to manufacture them, it will take 36 months.
“They have offered not only that they will give us a lead time but it will also be a discount because they will give us at the price they are purchased, the time value of money will also be a saving for NNPC and Nigeria, as a whole.”
The GMD assured that the corporation had put on a very robust plan to be able to repair these refineries adding that it would be the cheapest and most cost effective that Nigeria would pay.
Commenting on the role of the original builders of the refineries, he said they had two roles, the first role is the documentation and the intent of the refineries.
He said: “They will come in to open up the various equipment they know exactly what they are looking for and of cause if they found that some of it is eruded and some are not as expected, then it makes it very easy to say that it is outside the design and it should be replaced.
“So, the second role which is very important is that they will be able to bottleneck the refineries, by that i mean, we want 21st century refinery not 1989 refinery they built originally.
“It is going to be some level of authomation that will be introduced and latest instrumentation introduced, so that the refinery when it is up, it will be easy to operate than what it was before.”
He further said that first phase of the rehabilitation process is expected to last for six month but urged the contractor to achieve it before projected time frame.
On the current operation capacity of the refinery, he said that there were several issues on the level of utilisation.
He aid: “Several units that are fundermental are not in good shape. Like the steam unit, no refinery operate without steaming and that is a major heating element.
“This refinery is supposed to have four steam units, it reached to a point that they have only one that is working and it cannot carry the capacity of the whole refinery.
“So, Obviously, their capacity is limited and that is why we call what we are starting today rehabilitation.”
Earlier in his remarks, Anthonio Vella, ENI Chief Officer, Upstream, says the partnership in rehabilitating the refinery shows the longstanding partnership with Nigeria.
Vella said: “In order to increase the performance of the port Harcourt refinery, ENI will share with NNPC the knowledge and experience gained in decades of managing owned and participated refineries both in Italy and abroad.”
He added that the rehabilitation would be opportunity for professional NNPC staff recently trained in Italy to show case their skills.
He noted that that rehab would be significant upgrade, with equipment and machines begin opened for inspection.
He urged worker to ensure they achieve zero accident while working.
He said: “With the commitment of all parties involved, we are sure that NNPC will be able to celebrate the revamping of the refinery, restored to its full capacity in time on schedule and in full safety.”