The Dangote Refinery is being hailed as one of the most important landmarks that will make a difference in Nigeria’s upstream petroleum sector. Upon completion, this gargantuan facility is expected to cater to the domestic petroleum needs of Nigerians, who have seen their four refineries in Rivers, Delta, and Kaduna states decline to a state of non-functionality over the years and have been subsequently bearing the consequences.

These consequences, such as the high price of refined fuel importation, importation of substandard fuel (which has knocked off the engines of vehicles and generators), and the intermittent, harrowing scarcity of fuel, have left a bitter taste in the mouth of Nigerians for over 30 years.

Its development comes at a time when there is an energy crisis globally, no thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With the impact of the geopolitics of the Russia-Ukraine war unravelling, such as Russia’s reduction of oil supply to Europe, its switching off of the Nord Stream 1 gas supply to Europe, the high energy bills, the rationing of fuel, gas, and electricity, the high energy bills for consumers in the US and Europe, and the potential disruption of shipping of petroleum products, various countries in the global south are looking for alternative sources for supply of petroleum products.

Therefore, the presence of a working industrial process plant such as the Dangote Refinery will help assuage Nigerians about the availability of petroleum products and enable the company – Dangote Group – and the country to, once again, explore the commercial opportunities of exporting the refined products.

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Overview of the Dangote Refinery

The Dangote Oil Refinery and Petrochemical Plant is an industrial process plant where crude petroleum is transformed and refined into useful products such as gasoline (fuel), diesel fuel, jet fuel (aviation fuel), and gas. The refinery is situated within the Dangote Petrochemical Complex, a colossal facility located in Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial capital. The refinery is owned by the Dangote Group, which is headed by Aliko Dangote, a serial entrepreneur deemed to be Africa’s richest man, according to Forbes, a globally renowned business magazine.

Although Dangote announced plans for the refinery in September 2013, construction did not start until 2016, with excavation and infrastructure preparation of the site. Major structural construction of the refinery began in July 2017. The completion date and commencement of production have been pushed back about three times since the project was conceived. When the refinery comes on stream, it is expected to be Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility.

Also located within the Petrochemical Complex is the Dangote Fertiliser Plant, which is Africa’s largest Granulated Urea Fertiliser complex. It has two of the world’s largest fertilizer trains, which produce an estimated three (3) million tonnes of fertilizer per annum.

Other equipment and facilities at the refinery include access roads, tank storage facilities, product-handling facilities, and a marine terminal. Also at the petrochemical complex are an administrative building, guardhouses, fire station, and pump stations.

Location of the Dangote Refinery

The Dangote Refinery is located in the South-East of the Lekki Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in the Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos State. It covers a land area of approximately 2,635 hectares which, according to the company, is six times the size of Victoria Island.

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The capacity of the Dangote Refinery

The capacity of the Dangote Refinery
Source: REUTERS

When it starts operating functionally, the Dangote refinery is expected to process 650,000 barrels per day (BPD) of crude oil. It will be the largest single-train refinery in the world, courtesy of its single crude oil distillation unit. The refinery at full production will have an annual refining capacity of 10.4 million tonnes of petrol (fuel), 4.6MT of diesel, and 4MT of jet fuel, all of the Euro-V quality.

It will also produce 0.69Mt of polypropylene, 0.24MT of propane, 32,000T of sulphur, and 0.5MT of carbon black feed. Upon completion, the refinery will have a 4.74 billion litres storage capacity.

The crude oil is set to be transported via pipelines from oil fields in the Niger Delta. The pipeline infrastructure at the Dangote Petroleum Refinery is the largest anywhere in the world, with 1,100 kilometres to handle three billion standard cubic feet of gas per day. Natural gas will also be sourced from the Niger Delta to supply the fertilizer factory and will be used to generate electricity for the refinery complex.

According to the company, the world’s largest crude distillation column, weighing 2,350 tonnes and with a height of 112 metres, was installed at the refinery in 2019. The world’s heaviest refinery regenerator was installed at the refinery in the same year, with the regenerator to improve the efficiency of turning crude oil into more valuable components. It also has a 435 megawatts power plant to meet its total power requirement.

The refinery also has maritime facilities installed to facilitate operations. The facilities include:

  • Two crude SPM (single point mooring) for unloading ships from Aframax to ULCC (ultra-large crude carrier)
  • Three product SPM for product exports up to Suezmax vessels
  • Two subsea crude pipelines (diameter 48″ or 1.22 metres) with interconnection
  • Four subsea pipelines for products and imports (diameter 24″ or 0.61 metres)
  • A 120km subsea pipeline

Mele Kyari, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, announced in August 2022 that the NNPC had secured the right to sell 330,000 barrels-per-day minimum to the refinery for the next 20 years. With such supply, the Dangote Refinery will meet 100 per cent of Nigeria’s requirement of all refined petroleum products and have a surplus of each of these products for export.

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Opening date of the Dangote Refinery

The refinery is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2023 and begin production by the middle of 2023, according to Kyari, the CEO of NNPC Limited. The NNPC honcho, whose company owns a 20 per cent stake in the refinery, also disclosed that Nigeria would stop refining petroleum products when the refinery comes on stream in mid-2023.

Cost of the Dangote Refinery

When he initially announced plans for the refinery, Dangote said the facility would cost $9 billion, with $3 billion in equity from the Dangote Group and $6 billion to be raised in loan capital. However, the project was deferred to start three years later, and the cost was estimated to have risen to between $12-$14 billion.

Following further delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost further shut up to an estimated $19 billion. It was reported in July 2022 that Dangote had to borrow N187 billion naira (about $442 million) to complete the refinery.

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Contractors of the Dangote Refinery

other refining equipment at the Dangote Refinery
Source: REUTERS

The following contractors are providing various services at the refinery

  • Engineers India – the overall engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the project
  • Honeywell UOP – supplier of the catalyst regeneration and dryer regeneration control systems, column trays, heat exchanger tubes, a modular CCR unit, and catalyst coolers
  • C&I Leasing – provider of transportation and installation services for mooring systems and subsea pipelines
  • Hang Xiao Steel Structure Company – provider of steel structure for the refinery
  • Jan De Nul Group – carrying out land reclamation works
  • MAN Diesel & Turbo – supplier of two compressor trains
  • Air Liquide Engineering & Construction – supplier of the SMR units
  • Sulzer Chemtech – supplier of column internals, packings, and trays
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) – construction of 15 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks
  • Mammoet – provider of heavy lifting and transport solutions
  • Fabtech – supplier of 18 columns
  • Schneider Electric – supplier of process automation systems
  • SOFEC – provider of Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring buoys
  • WABAG – provider of a raw water treatment plant
  • Boldrocchi – supplier of eight diverter damper systems for six GE gas turbines

Recruitment

The Dangote Refinery is expected to provide an estimated 135,000 permanent jobs when it becomes operational. There is a portal that people seeking employment can fill and follow up on.

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