Nigeria's effort at ensuring local sufficiency in refined petroleum products was bolstered on Thursday with the formal commencement of the first phase of the rehabilitation of the 210,000 barrels per day capacity Port Harcourt Refinery complex that comprises the 60,000 barrels per day old Refinery built in 1965 and the 150,000 barrels per day, new Refinery, commissioned in 1989.
The exercise flagged off by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, at a formal kick-off meeting in the premises of the refinery in Port Harcourt, came 19 years after the last Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) exercise of the nation's premier refining plant.
NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja said the project would be executed by Milan-based Maire Tecnimont S.p.A, in collaboration with its Nigerian affiliate, Tecnimont Nigeria.
The statement disclosed that Maire Tecnimont S.p.A is listed on Milan Stock Exchange with interest in international engineering and construction, technology and licensing, and energy business development, adding that the Tecnimont group had operations in 40 different countries, numbering about 50 operative companies with a workforce of about 5,500 employees.
The NNPC's spokesman quoted the GMD as saying that at the end of the phase 1, the Refinery complex should be able to reach 60 percent capacity utilization.
Mr. Ughamadu stated that NNPC was engaging ENI/NAOC as Technical Advisor to support the Rehabilitation of PHRC, saying NNPC/PHRC would leverage ENI's extensive refinery supply chain network and warehouses to procure critical materials for the programme.
He noted that this first phase of the rehabilitation contract which would run for six months will involve detailed integrity check and equipment inspection of the Port Harcourt Refinery complex beginning from end of March, 2019.
The integrity test comes as a forerunner to the second phase of the rehabilitation project which entails a comprehensive revamp of the complex aimed at restoring the refinery to a minimum of 90 percent capacity utilization.
Subject to the successful completion of the integrity checks, Phase 2 of the project would be executed on an Engineering Procurement Construction basis by Tecnimont in collaboration with the original builders of the plant, JGC of Japan.
Speaking on behalf of the contractors, Antonio Vella, Chief Officer, Upstream, ENI, said all the companies involved would deploy all available modern resources to ensure effective upgrade of the plant.
Vella enthused that with the commitment of all parties involved, it was certain that NNPC would be able to celebrate the revamp of the PHRC that would lead to its full capacity utilization on schedule and in full safety.
Speaking on behalf of the workers unions, Comrade Odor Victor Ayiri, Branch Chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and Comrade Dibiah Joseph, Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), jointly pledged the support of workers to ensuring a smooth turnaround of the facility.