EPIC’s 107,000bpd Refinery In Bayelsa Ready In 16 Months
AS part of efforts to end the importation of refined petroleum products into the country, the Federal Government has granted licence to Epic Refinery and Petrochemical Industries Ltd to build a 107,000bpd refinery in Oporoma, Bayelsa State.
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, Barango Matthew Wenke Jnr., who disclosed this to journalists in Lagos recently during a chat, said the project would cost about U.S. $30 billion, adding that the fund had been secured.
Wenke said the refinery, when completed, will have a capacity to refine 107, 000 barrels per day on a modular arrangement of 30-30-30-17 and would create at least 100, 000 jobs when completed.
He said: “EPIC Refinery started this journey in 2011 and we have been through the mill. We have paid the statutory dues and presented the technical details to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). The DPR visited the site in Oporoma and did its assessment and we qualified for the issuance of the LTE since 2013. But for whatever reasons, it was delayed. But we are happy today that this government came and on June 15, this year, issued us the licence.
“Now we are hitting the ground running because actually the first partners we had walked away because of the delay. So, we severed the relationship. But the moment we got the licence, those who had been waiting keyed into the project. Our new partners are from the Middle East and the U. S. Also, locally we have some enterprising Nigerians who are willing to bring in their money into the project.”
Wenke said the company had to adjust the business plan from a full large capacity refinery to a modular refinery, explaining that with a modular refinery, “production is easier and cost of installation is also easier.”
He added that the company has a project team that comprises seasoned and experienced engineer, noting, “we are good to go.”
“The refinery will come on stream within 12 to 16 months. It is feasible and I will tell you why. The major stage is the manufacturing of the plants which as soon as we open the LC to them they can finish them within seven to nine months. But while they are doing the manufacturing there, we will get on with the civil works that we need to do locally. On September 16, this year, we are signing a contract with the equipment manufacturers here in Lagos. Funds for the project are already secured. DPR has also attached engineers to the project,” he said.
Noting that the company is bringing in opportunities, technology and foreign investment into the Nigerian economy with the establishment of the refinery, Wenke said the management of the company has been in talks with the Bayelsa State government over the project, noting that the Governor Seriake Dickson administration has been creating a conducive atmosphere for investors in the state.
“So, our relationship with the government and people of Bayelsa State is cordial. As a company, we have been working hand in hand with the government on this project through the supervising ministry. When the projected is completed, at least 100, 000 jobs will be created and one should expect that the people of Bayelsa Sate would be well represented. However, jobs will only be given to qualified people, ” Wenke noted.
The Project Director, Zakari Umar, said the establishment of the refinery would contribute towards ending petroleum products importation into the country and what he described as the “subsidy saga.”
“We believe that the more the refineries, the better. Once you have enough refined products in the country, it will just ease out the issue of subsidy. The market forces will take over and Nigerians will appreciate the fact that products are available when they want them. What is happening in the subsidy regime is that some of the prices are just there because somebody is making money out of them. But when we produce, there would be enough products for local consumption and even for export,” Umar said.
He added: “The subsidy regime has come a long way because of the circumstances the government was faced with. But now the reality is that government can no longer continue with the subsidy. The total deregulation of the downstream sector will enhance refineries coming on stream. Besides, government should support the local refineries and encourage local investors. If government encourages the refineries to develop and start producing enough, then they can ease out the issue of subsidy gradually. As far as we are concerned as private entrepreneurs who are now venturing into refinery operations, our zeal is to see that the products are available.”