The 650, 000 barrels per day (bpd) Dangote crude oil refinery may no longer be completed until the end of 2020 due to problems importing steel and other equipment.
However, refining operation which was expected to begin at the facility early 2020 has been shifted, implying that it may start by early 2021 due to the new development.
The Group Executive Director, Dangote Group, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, disclosed this in an interview with Reuters, adding that the firm could start using the refinery's tank farms as a depot to warm up operations despite the delays at the congested Apapa and Tin Can Island ports.
"We will be able to complete the refinery project by the end of next year - mechanical completion," Edwin said.
He said the crude unit for the refinery, which set sail from China last month, would arrive by the end of October.
According to him, "the tanks will be connected to five single point mooring buoys" (SPMs), which will allow the refinery complex to pump crude straight into tanks from large ships at sea and pump products back out onto boats of any size."
The GMD noted that the team was in talks with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), two other international oil companies and two large oil traders, who were all interested in supplying crude and buying products.
Meanwhile, as part of the company's trading plan, Edwin said it was setting up its own trading desk, with a senior team of three people and a staff of roughly 30 who would be monitoring international commodity prices.
Also, the Chief Operating Officer, Dangote Refinery and Petrochemicals, Mr. Giuseppe Surace, said the SPMs would be the primary method of supplying oil products from the refinery.
He added that the team was considering using the tanks as training or as a depot before the refinery's production starts.
"We might do that. We will be ready to do that," he said, though he added that no decision had been taken yet."
The refinery which is being built at a large expanse of land at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos will become the biggest refinery in the whole of Africa.
The facility has been viewed by many industry players and stakeholders as a game-changer for the African oil and gas industry, and will transform Nigeria from being a net importer of petroleum products to a net exporter.