Nigeria’s first indigenous private refinery, Dangote Refinery, has hinted of its capacity to refine about 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day when it finally becomes operational.

The target, in real terms, would save over $7.5 billion the country expends annually through petrol import substitution, and will put Nigeria on the global map as a major oil and gas producer/refiner in Africa.

The company’s Group Executive Director, Devakumar Edwin, disclosed recently that the plant would help the Federal Government create a robust domestic refining sector that could reduce importation of petroleum products and save the country from capital flight.

He explained: “The refinery is going to save a huge amount of foreign exchange out flow because, today, forex is being used in the importation of petroleum products and our foreign reserves are being heavily depleted.

“This continuous importation of petroleum products has exerted undue pressure on the nation’s external reserves and induced depreciation of the naira. And whatever little forex we are earning from the sale of crude oil, is being used to import petroleum products.

“Our petroleum refinery is going to have a major beneficial impact on the economy in terms of foreign exchange savings. Secondly, the demand for Nigeria’s crude oil has reduced with the introduction of shale oil into the market.

“Shale oil is equally as good as the Nigerian crude and it is available in substantial volumes. Our biggest consumers like China and India have reduced their demand because they could get similar products.

“Even earlier, they had started focusing on heavier crudes because they believed that they could make more money. Our refinery will give an assured market for the Nigerian crude”, Edwin added.

On the capacity and preparations to distributing the products, Edwin said that the refinery would have the capacity to refine 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

He hinted further: “We are also building the largest sub-sea pipeline infrastructure in any country in the world, with a length of 1,100km, to handle 3 billion SCF of gas per day. We also plan to construct a 570 MW power plant in this complex.

“As a matter of fact, gas from our gas pipeline will augment the natural domestic gas supply and we estimate an additional 12,000MW of power generation can be added to the grid with the additional gas from our system”, the industry expert added.

Nigeria currently imports large amount of its petroleum products due to the inability of refineries to utilize their full capacity.

Official statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the downstream of the Nigeria oil and gas sector spent N812 billion on importations of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) during the first quarter of 2018.

According to NBS data, N349.45 billion was spent on PMS importation in just one month – March 2018, representing the highest volume of petroleum product import during the quarter under review.

With the Dangote Refinery coming on stream with a target of 650,000 barrels of crude to be refined daily, the country’s fortunes in the oil sector will, no doubt, be boosted, curbing leakages and wastages of funds on importation.