The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) refineries rehabilitation programme is to commence with the 210,000 barrels per day capacity Port Harcourt Refinery complex.
This is coming after several proposals by the corporation to boost the refining capacities of the four local refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and cut down on the country's fuel imports failed to materialise.
In 2017, the NNPC inaugurated eight committees mandated to return the four refineries to their nameplate capacities by 2019.
NNPC's spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu said the action was sequel to a presidential directive to develop ways to increase local fuel production and cut down on imports.
Last year, another plan that was to involve the rehabilitation of the refineries by their original builders also failed.
The NNPC Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, said discussions were held with Kellog, Brown & Root to work with the Nigerian Engineering and Technical Company (NETCO) to conduct a detailed scoping on the refineries in Port Harcourt and Warri Refinery to determine what needed to be done in each.
Mr Baru said on completion of the technical assessment and costing, the NNPC would approach the original designers and builders of the refineries to supervise the reconstruction work.
While JGC Corporation of Japan and Saipem were to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Refinery, the GMD said Tecnimont and Snamprogetti would handle the Warri Refinery, and Chiyoda Corporation and Saipem would reconstruct the Kaduna Refinery.
After a series of discussions with the contractors in London on the various financing options, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, said in December last year the NNPC Board was unable to proceed any further on the arrangement.
The commencement of the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refineries was part of the alternative arrangements on the issue to achieve local sufficiency in refined petroleum products supply.
NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu said the formal commencement of rehabilitation of the 210,000 barrels per day capacity Port Harcourt Refinery complex was the first phase of the programme.
Port Harcourt Refinery comprises the 60,000 barrels per day old Refinery built in 1965 and the 150,000 barrels per day new Refinery, commissioned in 1989.
Mr Ughamadu said in a statement on Thursday the commencement of the rehabilitation is coming more than 19 years after the last turn around maintenance (TAM) was carried out in the plant.
The rehabilitation programme was kicked-off by Mr Baru after an official meeting in the premises of the refinery in Port Harcourt.
The project would be handled by Milan-based Maire Tecnimont S.P.A, in collaboration with its Nigerian affiliate, Tecnimont Nigeria.
Mr Ughamadu said Maire Tecnimont S.P.A, which has interests in international engineering and construction, technology and licensing, and energy business development is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange.
The Tecnimont Group has operations in 40 different countries, with about 50 operative companies and a workforce of about 5,500 employees.
Mr Ughamadu quoted Mr Baru as saying at the end of the first phase, the refinery complex should be able to attain 60 per cent capacity utilistion.
Besides, the spokesperson said the NNPC was engaging Eni/NAOC as Technical Advisor to support the rehabilitation of the PHRC.
NNPC/PHRC would also leverage on extensive refinery supply chain network and warehouses to procure critical materials for the rehabilitation programme.
The rehabilitation contract, which would run for six months, would involve detailed integrity checks and equipment inspection of the Port Harcourt Refinery complex from the end of the month.
The integrity test will be followed by the second phase of the rehabilitation project, which will entail a comprehensive revamping of the complex to restore it to a minimum of 90 per cent capacity utilisation.
"Subject to the successful completion of the integrity checks, Phase 2 of the project would be executed on an Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) basis by Tecnimont in collaboration with the original builders of the plant, JGC of Japan."
Speaking on behalf of the contractors, Chief Officer, Upstream, Eni, Antonio Vella, said all the companies involved would deploy all available modern resources to ensure effective upgrade of the plant.
Mr Vella said with the commitment of all parties, it was certain NNPC would be able to celebrate the revamp of the PHRC that would lead to its full capacity utilisation on schedule and in full safety.
Branch Chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) workers unions, Odor Ayiri, and 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.
The rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery Complex will be followed with Warri and Kaduna Refineries using the same methodology.