Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote’s Dangote Oil Refinery, touted as Africa’s largest integrated petrochemical complex, has experienced delays in commencing production, raising questions about its impact on Nigeria’s role in the global oil market.
The refinery was inaugurated with great fanfare in May, marking a significant milestone for Nigeria’s oil industry. However, the August start date for production, as initially announced by the Dangote Group, has now come and gone without any sign of refined petroleum products hitting the market.
Nigeria’s former President Muhammadu Buhari officially commissioned the refinery, hailed as the world’s largest vertically integrated petrochemical complex. This monumental project was expected to reposition Nigeria as a major player in the global oil market.
Garba Deen, a spokesperson for the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), stated in June that the company planned to reduce its fuel imports once the Dangote Oil Refinery commenced production in August. However, recent developments have cast doubt on this timeline.
An inside source at the Dangote Oil Refinery, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly, revealed, “For now, the management has not come out with any official date for the start of petrol refining at the Ibeju-Lekki facility.”
The refinery, boasting an initial processing capacity of 540,000 barrels per day, was positioned to meet 100 percent of Nigeria’s refined petroleum needs while generating a surplus for export, potentially yielding an impressive $11 billion in annual revenue.
The ambitious $20.5-billion project aimed to transform Nigeria into a net exporter of refined petroleum products and petrochemicals by 2026, bolstering the nation’s economy and reducing its dependence on imported fuel.
In response to the delays, Mike Osatuyi, national controller for operations at the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, attempted to allay fears of a petrol supply crisis. He assured the public that the NNPCL was still actively importing petroleum products and suggested that the Dangote refinery’s delays might be due to internal challenges.
Osatuyi went on to advocate for the Federal Government to prioritize the development of other local refineries to avoid excessive reliance on the Dangote refinery, which has now experienced setbacks in its production timeline.
The delay in the Dangote Oil Refinery’s production start has left stakeholders in Nigeria’s oil industry eagerly awaiting updates, as the nation’s aspirations to become a key player in the global petroleum market hang in the balance.