Port Harcourt refineries would begin to work optimally from October after a Turn-Around Maintenance (TAM), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said.
Philip Chukwu, Group Executive Director (GED), Refining and Petrochemicals at the NNPC said this on Thursday in Port Harcourt during an inspection of the refineries with officials of Maire Tecnimont, the contractors which the Federal Government engaged for the TAM.
Mr. Chukwu who decried the lack of maintenance of the twin Port Harcourt refineries in the last 12 years, commended the Federal Government for engaging the original constructors of the refineries for the TAM, the Chiyoda Group of Japan.
“Everyone knows that the refineries have not been properly maintained over the years and we have had to manage things. What we are doing now is to have the TAM and complete rehabilitation of the refineries by the original contractors,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two Port Harcourt refineries which consist of the old refinery with capacity to process 60, 000 b/d and 150, 000 b/d, respectively, had been functioning at very low capacity with the old one not working at the moment because of lack of maintenance.
Mr. Chukwu explained that the TAM, which would start in October, would require a total shutdown of the plants for between 45 days and 60 days to ensure a thorough job.
He said the TAM and rehabilitation process would also entail overhauling the supply chain and pipelines that bring crude oil and capacity building for staff so as to meet international best practice.
He said the NNPC was also working with all stakeholders, including security operatives, to ensure the pipelines were safe and no longer vandalised.
Tony Ogbuigwe, Managing Director, Port Harcourt Refinery Corporation (PHRC) in his remarks after taking the contractors round the plants expressed optimism that the refinery would begin to work at 90 per cent capacity by November.
He said preliminary work on the TAM started since late 2010 and the present stage would signal the return to full production of the refineries.
He said that the NNPC had already placed an order for all the equipment necessary for the TAM, noting that the inspection by the management of the construction company would help to fast-track the whole process.
Roberto Bertocco, Managing Director, Maire Tecnimont Group of Italy said in his remarks that the company which had been on ground in Nigeria for the past 30 years would be working with JGC Engineering, Japan, original builders of the refinery.
“I can assure you of a very good job on this project. We have been working with JGC in many parts of the world, so we are also collaborating with them on this project because we have been on ground in Nigeria for the past 30 years,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the refinery would be working at full capacity by the end of the year.
NAN reports that the old Port Harcourt refinery was built in 1965 with an initial capacity of 35,000 b/d which was later expanded to 60,000 bpd in 1972.
The new wing of the refinery was built in 1989 with a 150,000 b/d capacity to meet local consumption of petroleum products and for export.
NAN reports that the management of Maire Tecnimont led by the Managing Director is due to sign the MOU with the Petroleum Minister, Dieziani Allison-Madueke and NNPC officials on Friday in Abuja.