Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Saturday commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote as the largest single refinery investor in Africa which would boost the country’s refining capacity in the first quarter of 2019.
Speaking during a visit to Dangote refinery at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Osinbajo noted that the nation would attain sufficiency in refined petroleum products for the domestic market and for export at the completion of the refinery.
He noted the current effect of foreign exchange depreciation had taken its toll on the project which was earlier estimated at N2.8 trillion which has now doubled to N4.8 trillion based on the new exchange rate.
He stated that the project would also boost gas supply to power plants through the three billion standard cubic feet per day gas pipeline, adding that the facility would generate export earnings after meeting the country’s current requirement of two billion scfpd.
Osinbajo said: “The gas pipeline, slated for commissioning in 2018, would take off from Bonny through Ogedegbe to Olokola and onward to Lekki. The line would hook up with Escravos-Lagos pipeline and the West African Gas Pipeline.
“The project is an incredible industrial undertaking and possibly the largest ambitious investment in the continent today. I think it is inspiring. The refinery would start production in the first quarter of 2019. The subsea gas pipeline, which is an important and strategic project is meant to take off in 2018.”
The vice president, who described the refinery as the highest investment in Africa and the biggest of its type in the world with a 650,000 barrels per day refining capacity, added that the facility also includes a three million tonnes per year world single largest fertilizer plant; petrochemical plant; 400 Mega Watts power plant; and 1,100 kilometers of pipeline to handle three billion standard cubic feet per day.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Dangote Group, affirmed that he is committed to the multi-billion dollar project to aid the nation’s ailing economy.
Dangote said: “We are putting in 65 million cubic meters of sand and that was why we brought in three dredgers, two of which are the biggest in the world. This place is eight times the size of Victoria Island.”
Commenting on allegations of conflict with the host community, he said there are no issues, stressing that the past issues were between two communities and the state government.
He said” “We did not buy the land from communities, we bought our land (swamp) at $100 million and the filling up the swamp to become solid land is costing us another $420 million. The petrochemical is 13 times of Eleme petrochemical. It is 10 times of Nafcon and therefore the largest fertiliser plant in Africa.”
The Chief Executive said, the holding company, Dangote Industries Limited, which is different from Dangote Refinery, took an initial loan for the project that has accrued an interest of $173 million, stressing that, contrary to speculations, the company has not gotten substantial forex from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He said: “We lost almost N50 billion to new forex regime. Every single money we make in the country is ploughed back into the economy. I don’t have a single block outside Nigeria. I am a proud Nigeria and I believe in this country.”
“The best way of diversification for Nigeria is agriculture and our fertelizer plant is in line with that goal. By the time we finish our gas pipeline, it can generate about 12,000MW and we can export to other African countries.
“We would have the capacity to store four billion litres of products, and can load 2,680 trucks per day,” he said.
This project would crash the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) because the product is refined in the country, and will therefore save some costs incurred in the import market,” he noted.
In his presentation, the Group Executive Director, Dangote Group, Devakumar Edwin, said the plant’s basic engineering is currently at 98 per cent completion while the construction is 10 per cent in progress.
He noted that the project would aid the country with about $7.5 billion forex savings on import substitution; generate $5 billion forex earnings from savings and another $5.5 billion export earnings.
According to him, the plant will generate over 100,000 employment opportunities and revive over 11,000 filling stations that have been shut down due to shortage of products, pointing out that the project was designed to process a variety of crudes including all African crudes, a range of Middle Eastern crudes and U.S crudes.