Waltersmith commissions Phase 1 of grassroots Nigerian refinery

Dec. 14, 2020

Waltersmith Petroman Oil Ltd. subsidiary Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemical Ltd. has officially commissioned the first phase of its currently planned 50,000-b/d modular refinery at Ibigwe oil field, in the Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area, Imo State, Nigeria (OGJ Online, June 19, 2018).

The first 5,000-b/d phase of the refinery reached official startup on Nov. 24 in a ceremony virtually attended by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Waltersmith said in a series of posts to its official social media accounts.

The ceremony also included official groundbreaking on the project’s next 45,000-b/d phase that will include construction of a 25,000-b/d modular refinery to be followed by another 20,000-b/d phase to bring Waltersmith’s total refining capacity at the site to 50,000 b/d, according to a separate Nov. 25 release from the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB), which holds a 30% interest in the project.

The additional 20,000-b/d phase increases overall nameplate capacity of Waltersmith’s originally proposed project, which was to include only a 30,000-b/d refinery at Ibigwe (OGJ Online, July 9, 2018).

This first 5,000-b/d phase of the refinery will process about 1.8 million bbl crude and condensate annually to produce 271 million l./year of refined products (including diesel, naphtha, high-pour fuel oil, and kerosine), and once fully expanded, lift crude and condensate processing to more than 16 million bbl/year, according to Simbi Kesiye Wabote, NCDMB’s executive secretary.

The new refinery initially will process Nigerian crude from 7,000-b/d Ibigwe onshore field in eastern Niger Delta, also operated by Waltersmith (OGJ Online, Mar. 4, 2020).

In addressing ceremony attendees, Buhari reiterated deployment of modular refineries was one of four elements of the Nigerian federal government’s Refinery Roadmap introduced in 2018 to help meet local demand for petroleum products and eliminate imports into the country (OGJ Online, Jan. 11, 2018).

Alongside directing Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other government agencies to provide Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemical all necessary support to ensure access to crude and condensate feedstock for timely delivery of the operator’s capacity expansion plans, Buhari also assured attendees the federal government was continuing to progress on rehabilitation of Nigeria’s refineries, as well as colocation and greenfield refinery projects, to make the country a net exporter of petroleum products in a few years’ time.

NCDMB project investments

In his Nov. 24 ceremony address, Wabote additionally confirmed NCDMB also is partnering with other investors for construction of a 2,500-b/d modular refinery that will later be expanded to 10,000 b/d in Edo State, as well as a 12,000-b/d hydroskimming refinery in Bayelsa State that will produce a full slate of petroleum products to serve immediate and nearby markets.

While Wabote did not disclose names of the operators in his address, NCDMB said on July 3, 2020, that it signed an investment agreement with Duport Midstream Co. Ltd. for development of Nigeria’s first energy park in Otien, Edo State, that—upon full expansion—will include a 10,000-b/d modular refinery, as well as a 60-MMcfd gas processing plant, 10-MMcfd compressed natural gas (CNG) plant, 30,000-tonnes refined product terminal, and 20-Mw embedded power plant, all of which are to be built over a 5-year period.

In June 2019, NCDMB also announced it had acquired equity interest in Azikel Group subsidiary Azikel Petroleum Ltd.’s 12,000-b/d hydroskimming modular refinery scheduled for commissioning in 2021 in Obunagha-Gbarain, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State (OGJ Online, July 14, 2020).