President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday said the establishment of modular refineries in the country will make petroleum products available in the country and eliminate importation.
The President spoke at the virtual inauguration of the 5,000 barrels per day Waltersmith modular refinery in Ibigwe, Imo State, as well as the Ground-Breaking Ceremony for the Phase-2 works to expand the capacity of the refinery to 50,000 barrels/day.
President Buhari said the deployment of modular refineries was one of the four key elements of his administration’s Refinery Roadmap rolled out in 2018, adding that its implementation will make Nigeria a net exporter of petroleum products.
He expressed delight that Waltersmith refinery in Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State was coming on stream within two years of the commencement of the Roadmap, after many years of granting licenses for the establishment of modular refineries with nothing to show for it.
The President described plans to commence the expansion of the capacity of the refinery to 50,000 barrels per day to refine crude oil and condensates as an important part of economic reforms the country is undergoing.
President Buhari, therefore, directed the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), NNPC, as well as all relevant Government Agencies to provide Waltersmith Company all the necessary support to access crude oil and condensate feedstock for the timely delivery of the additional capacity.
In line with his administration’s agenda on jobs creation, the President said he was pleased to note that hundreds of direct and indirect jobs were created during the construction of the first phase of the project in addition to the various business opportunities.
Equally, he expressed hope that the construction of the second phase of the project will create bigger additional employment opportunities.
President Buhari thanked the local community and the people of Imo State for hosting the refinery, which, he stressed, will bring prosperity and economic development to the area.
The President commended the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, the Chairman and members of the Governing Council, and the management and staff of the Nigerian Content Development Board for making the public-private partnership a success.
He also commended the Chairman, Board, Management and Staff of Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Limited for their professionalism and focus in getting the project completed.
Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and the Minister of State, Petroleum, cut the tape on behalf of the President at the event which was also attended by the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, the Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote and the Chairman of WalterSmith, Abdulrazaq Isa.