Home » Aliko Dangote’s refinery set to commence operation as first crude stock arrives

Aliko Dangote’s refinery set to commence operation as first crude stock arrives

Africa's largest refinery inches closer to startup, aiming to end Nigeria's fuel crisis

by Omokolade Ajayi
Aliko Dangote

The $20-billion Dangote Oil Refinery owned by Africa’s richest person — Aliko Dangote — is poised to commence production after years of delays as the first crude shipment arrives at the facility.

Marking a significant milestone in the project’s development, the OTIS tanker, carrying a 950,000 barrel cargo of Nigeria’s Agbami crude, is presently en route to Lekki, the nearest land port to Dangote’s offshore crude receiving terminal. Tracked by the S&P Global MINT platform, the tanker is expected to arrive on Dec. 7 around 1900 GMT.

This comes shortly after the mega refinery received its license to refine over 300,000 barrels of Nigerian crude daily in November. During a recent business roundtable in Riyadh, Dangote emphasized the refinery’s commitment to prioritizing Nigerian crude for its initial operations.

Africa’s largest refinery inches closer to startup, aiming to end Nigeria’s fuel crisis

Inaugurated in May 2023 amidst high expectations, the Dangote Oil Refinery faced operational delays — sparking concerns about its ability to meet Nigeria’s refined petroleum needs. With the arrival of the first crude shipment, the refinery is one step closer to fulfilling its promise to supply gasoline to Nigeria before year’s end.

With a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day, the refinery is expected to eliminate Nigeria’s dependence on gasoline imports. Currently, Nigeria imports approximately 1 million-1.25 million metric tonnes of gasoline per month due to the poor state of its existing refineries.

While full operational capacity is not anticipated until mid-2025, Dangote officials have communicated initial operation plans at 370,000 barrels per day, primarily producing jet fuel and diesel. However, Dangote recently unveiled ambitious plans to the Financial Times, anticipating a refining capacity of 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of 2024.

Untold story of Dangote’s refinery: $8 Billion over budget and fears of empire’s fall

Reflecting on the challenges faced during the protracted construction of the $20.5 billion petrochemical complex — which saw the project running $8 billion over budget and significantly delayed — Dangote reflected on moments when he feared the venture might lead to the fall of his business empire. Despite the hurdles, he expressed gratitude, stating, “It’s either we sink or we sail through. And we thank the Almighty that at least we’ve arrived at the destination.”

The arrival of the first crude shipment marks a crucial turning point for the Dangote Oil Refinery and signifies its imminent contribution to transforming Nigeria’s energy landscape. As the refinery gears up for launch, the nation eagerly awaits the positive impact it will have on energy security, economic growth, and job creation.

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