Owerri — Equatorial Guinea has expressed its willingness to tap into Nigeria's modular refinery to increase the country's participation in the oil and gas industry.
The Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang, said that for a long time, the country has been exporting its crude, adding that his country was excited about Nigeria's experience in developing a refinery of smaller scale.
Speaking while inspecting the 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery being constructed by Waltersmith at its Ibigwe oil field in Obiti in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, Obiang said rather than going to Europe, United States or Asia, he decided to come to Nigeria to see what the company was doing and to replicate same in Equatorial Guinea.
Obiang said, "We in Equatorial Guinea believe that we have been for many years exporting our crude and for many years we have been asking the question can we do something else with the industry.
"So clearly the processing of the product has been one of them and rather than going to Europe, United States or Asia, we decided to come to our neighbour to see what they are doing.
"So we contacted the chairman of Waltersmith and we decided that the best thing to do is to come here and see things myself.
"We want to use our oil not only for export but by processing it. Clearly I am excited about what I am seeing here and it gives me the confident that we also can do it. And we do believe that this experiment and cooperation, both Waltersmith and the Nigerian industry are doing, we should replicate it.
"Of course Nigerians have more experience and that clearly showed that it is the best thing to do. We do believe that this cooperation will not be limited to exporting our crude but also in commercial terms', he said.
The Executive Secretary, of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, said that the initiative of Equatorial Guinea was clearly in line with the vision in the signing of the African Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which has a lot of potentials for African not only to trade amongst themselves but to share ideas.
Wabote maintained, "primarily, I don't put it in the local content context, I put it in the African Free trade agreement that has been signed which has a lot of potentials for African countries to trade amongst themselves.
"So this is a typical example of how it should be done where we learn from one another. What Nigeria does and what Equatorial Guinea does and so we exchange ideas".
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of Waltesmith, Abdulrasaq Isa, expressed delight at the visit, saying Waltersmith recently participated and won a bid to explore one of Equatorial Guinea's offshore fields.
He expressed commitment of the company to the May commissioning date, stressing, "We also do the ground breaking of the second phase of the project to increase it to an installed capacity of 30,000 barrels per day. We still have similarities between the two countries"
The modular refinery is being developed by a wholly-owned Nigerian integrated energy company, Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemical Company Limited, with equity investment from the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).