…as oil minister visits Waltersmith site in Imo
Ben Eguzozie in Port Harcourt
Equatorial Guinea, an oil producer in the Gulf of Guinea, says it is highly interested in Nigeria’s yet-to-start modular refinery model.
Recently, the central African oil producer sent its oil minister to the Ibigwe oilfield in Obiti, Ohaji/Egbema local government area of Imo State, to express its willingness to tap into Nigeria’s modular refinery model to increase the country’s participation in the oil and gas industry.
Gabriel Mbaga Obiang, minister of mines and hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, after inspecting the 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) Waltersmith Modular Refinery, said that for a long time, the country has been exporting its crude, but was now interested in engaging in local refining to raise more money.
He said that his country is very excited about Nigeria’s experience in developing a refinery of smaller scale.
The 5,000-bpd modular refinery is still being constructed by Waltersmith at its Ibigwe oil field.
Obiang said that rather than going to Europe, United States or Asia, his country had decided to send him to Nigeria to see what the company is doing, and to replicate same in Equatorial Guinea.
“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.
“We contacted the chairman of Waltersmith, and we decided that the best thing to do is to come here and see things for 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 confidence 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 refine it in commercial terms,” he said.
Simbi Kesiye Wabote, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), said that the initiative of Equatorial Guinea was in line with the vision in the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which has a lot of potentials for Africans to trade amongst themselves, as well as share ideas.
“Primarily, I don’t put it in the local content context, I put it in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement that has been signed, which has a lot of potentials for African countries to trade amongst themselves.
“What we’re doing today at this site, 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,” Wabote said.
Chairman of Waltersmith, Abdulrasaq Isa, expressed delight at the visit, saying that 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 2020 commissioning date of the modular refining plant.
He said they were also to 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,” Isa said.
The modular refinery is a wholly Nigerian integrated energy company, developed by Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemicals Company Limited, with equity investment from the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).