The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, says it is making efforts to establish conventional and standard locally-built refineries in the Niger Delta to boost refining of Nigerian crude.
Prof. Ibrahim Mohammed-Dabo, the Team Leader, ABU Refinery Project, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria in Zaria.
Ibrahim-Dabo said: “Our ultimate goal is to have a conventional and standard locally built refinery that can be refining Nigerian crudes.
“We are hoping that if enough funds are made available to us to perfect what we have on ground, we shall be willing to build other ones that can be stationed in the Niger Delta.
“This is where most of the Nigerian crude oil is produced. When new ones are built, we are going to train operators that will manage them.”
He said that the ABU mini refinery project started in 2011 when he wrote a research proposal to the university’s management for onward delivery to the TETFUND for funding.
He said: “In monetary terms, the initial stage of the project was proposed to cost a total of N18 million but only N1.8 million was approved for the project.
“We initially wanted to abandon the project because the amount approved was so small but being very passionate about it, we started the design and fabricated some components with that meagre amount.
“Actually, it reached a stage where we had to use our personal money for the project. When we started installation at the site, we invited the university management to the site and they were very happy.
“On appreciating what was done, the then Vice-Chancellor pledged that the university was going to support the project which they did by providing the land, security light and water.”
He said dedicated staff were employed for the project, and that since then, the university had been very supportive.
He said: “As you know, refinery is made up of many units, the first unit to be put in place in any refinery are the desalting and crude distillation units.
“These were the ones we designed, constructed, installed and operated with the support of the University.
“The Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Abuja was approached to fund two units, which were the Naphtha Hydrotreating Unit and the Fluid Catalytic cracking unit.
“The RMRDC is therefore sponsoring these units which we have completed both design and fabrication components, we are now at the installation stage.”
According to him, the team is equally working on other units such as the Kerosene hydrotreating unit, Catalytic reforming unit, sour water stripping unit and flare gas recovery unit.
He said in summary what was not on ground was solely sponsored by the ABU management toward ensuring the success of the project.
On the present state of the refinery, Mohammed-Dabo said three units had so far been completed.
He said: “As I have mentioned earlier, presently the refinery has completed three units which are the desalting unit, atmospheric and vacuum distillation units.
“We are equally working on four of five other units which we hope before the fourth quarter of this year, we will commission them, God willing.
“Building any technology is capital expensive; talk less of oil refinery technology. It involves many trials before perfection.
“There is the need to improve upon what has already been built and this involves money. We have been making efforts in this regard but up till now no funding has been secured.”
Mohammed-Dabo observed that Nigeria would never be self-sufficient or secure as long as it relied on foreign countries for their developed technologies.
He cited example of the four state-owned refineries in Nigeria, saying, they were all built by foreigners.
He said: “The four state-owned refineries were all built by foreigners and whenever a serious technical problem arises we resort to contacting the so-called original manufactures to solve the problem.
“If these refineries were designed and built by Nigerians, we would have solved the problem faster and cheaper.
“We are therefore, requesting the government to support and encourage us so that Nigeria will have a completely locally developed oil refinery technology.
“Having a locally built refineries will make it cheaper for private investors to build modular refineries which help in curbing the proliferation of the so-called artisan illegal refineries in the Niger Delta.”
He observed that operations of such illegal refiners were dangerous to both operators and the environment.