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DMEA: Reality check for Port Harcourt

A senior official at Nigeria’s biggest existing refinery last week cast doubt on recent speculation the facility could resume operations by the end of the year.

The managing director of Nigeria’s Port Harcourt Refining Complex (PHRC) has said that the refinery will resume operations next year, conflicting with a more optimistic outlook provided by the country’s oil minister.

PHRC’s Ahmed Dikko told a visiting delegation from the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Refineries that the oldest part of the facility would be revamped and ready to resume refining during Q1 2023, under a broader, $1.5bn rehabilitation project.

PHRC comprises a 60,000 bpd unit built in 1965, known as Area 5, and a newer unit built in 1989 capable of processing 150,000 bpd of crude. It has been offline since 2019 amid reports that no comprehensive turnaround maintenance (TAM) had been carried out for as long as 40 years.

Dikko said that Area 5 would be the first to be repaired, adding that PHRC would reach its 210,000 bpd capacity by the end of 2024.

Despite having had to pay more to source and transport equipment by air to expedite the work, “we plan to finish Area 5 by the first quarter of next year, so we can begin to run it. It is the old refinery […] The other parts of the refinery would come a few months after that,” he said.

Dikko added: “We are on track and managing the process very well and would continue to do the best we can at all times to ensure that we meet these expectations we put on ourselves so we all would be proud of all these activities and begin to have some refining capacity in Port Harcourt.”