By Our Correspondent
The Chairman of Waltersmith Group, Abdulrazaq Isah, has disclosed Waltersmith Refinery targets 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude oil capacity. He said the refinery was already moving from 5,000 bpd to 10,000 bpd. He spoke when the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote, visited the refinery which is located in Ibigwe in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.
Isah emphasized the need for collaborative efforts between the private and government organisations in order to advance the nation’s energy sector. Talking about Waltersmith Refinery, he said: “We are moving from 5,000 to 10,000 barrels of crude oil (bpd) a day but our focus is on achieving 40,000 bpd capacity. Already, we are engaging all necessary parties especially the national oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd NNPCL, to ensure that we have access to enough feedstock that will enable us get to the 40,000bpd capacity. That is where we are headed and our co-investor, the NCDMB, is happy with what we are doing.
Lokpobiri pledged his full support for the expansion plans of Waltersmith Refinery. He expressed admiration for the progress achieved by Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company. Lokpobiri said: “The shortest way to addressing our problem of low in-country refining capacity is modular refineries and that is why I am here to see things for myself. I am very proud of what I have seen. I also want to encourage Waltersmith and pledge my full support towards their expansion plans so that we can solve the energy problem of our country.”
Wabote reiterated the Board’s commitment to supporting projects that align with the Nigerian Content Act, fostering local capacity development, and enhancing value retention within the country. He said NCDMB investment in Waltersmith Modular Refinery has turned out to be one of its best investment decisions so far.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Bank of Industry (BOI), Olasupo Olusi, said that the bank was open and committed to supporting the expansion plans of the Waltersmith Refinery.
The business unit of the Waltersmith Group, the Waltersmith Refinery and Petrochemicals Company, is the largest modular refinery in Nigeria that has so far been commissioned. The refinery project, being developed in phases, has made significant contributions to Nigeria’s refining capacity. The African refinery project is being developed in phases by Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company, a subsidiary of Nigeria-based Waltersmith Petroman Oil.
Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company is a joint-venture between Waltersmith Petroman Oil (70%) and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (30%). Waltersmith was granted a license by Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources to establish the refinery in June 2015 and received the construction approval in March 2017. The final investment decision (FID) on the phase one refinery project was reached in September 2018.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of the refinery to 50,000 bpd capacity took place in November 2020. The modular refinery is intended to reduce the import of petroleum products by Nigeria. It is situated near the Ibigwe marginal field flow station. The Waltersmith modular refinery comprises a crude distillation unit, tank farm, and other related facilities. The modular refinery with an initial capacity of 5,000bpd is expected to deliver 271 million litres of refined petroleum products a year. The crude oil storage capacity of the refinery is approximately 60,000 barrels.
Subsequently, the refinery is planned to be expanded in phases to have a 20,000bpd crude oil refining facility and a 25,000bpd standalone condensate refining facility taking the total processing capacity to 50,000bpd. The refinery receives feedstock from the Waltersmith-operated Ibigwe marginal field. The petroleum products produced in the refinery include diesel, naphtha, heavy fuel oil, and kerosene. Africa Finance Corporation agreed to provide debt finance of approximately £26.5m ($35m) for phase one refinery development in July 2018. Velem was awarded an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the initial 5,000bpd modular refinery project in April 2018. Velem is a joint venture between US-based VFuels and Nigeria-based Lambert Electromec.
Ibigwe is an onshore marginal oil field located in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 16 in Imo State, Nigeria. The field is operated by Waltersmith Petroman Oil which holds a 70% stake, while the remaining 30% stake is held by Morris Petroleum. Waltersmith was awarded the Ibigwe field in the first Nigerian marginal oil field licensing round in 2003.
Earlier, OML 16 was operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company, while Waltersmith entered into a farm-out agreement with Shell and its partners to become the field operator in 2004.
Waltersmith installed an early production facility (EPF) at the field in March 2007 and achieved an average production of 500 bpd in 2008. Subsequently, the EPF was upgraded to a flow station with 15,000 bpd capacity. The field’s production stood at approximately 6,000bpd in 2018.