Rehabilitation of Nigeria’s Port Harcourt Refinery Complex in Progress

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is overseeing the US$1.5 billion project. 

By Chriselle Moraes on
23rd August 2022

The Port Harcourt refinery (Area 5) is one of the oldest and largest of the three Nigerian government-owned oil refineries. It is located at Alesa Eleme, in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

The refinery has been functional since 1965 and is owned and operated by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). This refinery complex has had a 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil refining capacity since 1965 and additional 150,000-bpd refining capacity operating since 1989. 

However, despite having a total crude processing capacity of 210,000 bpd, these refineries function at only a fraction of their capacity. That has been happening because of inefficiency and lack of maintenance.

Processing under-capacity has led to Nigeria having an increased dependency on imports of refined petroleum products. 

In March 2021, the Nigerian government approved US$1.5 billion funding to rehabilitate the refinery complex. The three-phase project will be completed in 2025. NNPC has a target capacity of 90% to be restored by the end of 2022.

The project began on 6 May 2022 and was 30% completed by June 2022, according to Mustapha Yakubu, NNPC General Manager for Refineries and Petrochemicals. 

Internally generated revenue (IGR), the Nigerian federal government’s budgetary provisions, and the African Export-Import Bank are expected to provide funding for the project. 

The rehabilitation will include a crude distillation unit (CDU), a vacuum distillation unit (VDU), a naphtha hydrotreating unit (NHTU), a catalytic reforming unit (CRU), a continuous catalyst regeneration (CCR) unit, a kerosene hydrotreating unit, a fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, and a dimersol unit to convert propylene into a gasoline blend stock.

It will also boast a butamer isomerisation unit and an alkylation unit. Other units are hydrogen purification, fuel gas vaporiser, sour water, and caustic treatment. The refinery complex currently uses four turbogenerators of 14MW an hour of electricity generation capacity each and four boilers of 120 tonnes an hour of steam generation capacity each.

Products from this refinery include petrol, diesel, LPG, aviation, and domestic kerosene, low pour fuel oil (LPFO), and heavy pour fuel oil (HPFO).

Tecnimont was awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for full rehabilitation of the refinery in April 2021. The company and its Nigerian subsidiary, Maire Tecnimont, also acquired a US$50 million contract for the first phase of the refinery (March 2019).   The phase 1 scope included integrity check and equipment inspections of the Port Harcourt refinery complex in preparation for the rehabilitation works.

“We plan to finish Area 5 by the first quarter of next year. It is a priority for us at this point. The other parts of the refinery would come a few months afterward. We are on track and managing the process very well. We will continue to do the best we can at all times to ensure that we meet these expectations we put on ourselves. That way, we all would be proud of all these activities and begin to have some refining capacity in Port Harcourt,” said Ahmed Dikko, Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited. 

Top Photo: Oil Refinery - Stock Image (Viorel Dudau | Dreamstime)

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