Dangote, Africa’s richest man and his $20bn world’s largest single train refinery

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Photo: Dangote and the Refinery 

Dangote, Africa’s richest man and his $20bn world’s largest single train refinery

One week to his handing over the reins of power to President Bola Tinubu, erstwhile President Muhammadu Buhari, commissioned the Dangote Oil Refinery — considered a ‘game-changer’ in ending the country’s fuel imports.

The refinery is expected to solve some of Nigeria’s petroleum issues, which coincidentally commenced operations on the eve of Tinubu’s assumption of office.

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Despite being an oil-producing nation and one of Africa’s largest oil producers, Nigeria lacks the capacity to refine its oil.

Many analysts are of the view that the new President is capable of not only solving the oil crisis but also the nation’s tattered economy.

A large number of these products that exist in the West African country are imported from other nations like India, Belgium, UAE, and the Netherlands.

Buhari commissioned the 650,000 barrels per day capacity refinery at the Lekki free trade zone area of the commercial hub Lagos, in an event attended by some West African heads of state.

Worth $20 billion, the giant refinery built by the Dangote Group, which is owned by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, aims to produce up to 53 million liters of gasoline per day, as well as 4 million liters of diesel and 2 million liters of aviation jet fuel daily.

Speaking at the event, Dangote described the refinery as “the world’s largest single train refinery.”

Between 2015 and 2019, the cost of importing refined petroleum products exceeded the exports by $58.5 billion, according to OPEC, a group of major oil producers.

Nigeria’s lack of refining capacity presents many challenges, such as spending billions of dollars on imports yearly and exposure to disruption of domestic fuel supply.

The Dangote refinery is significant because it plans to solve these problems by doubling the country’s refining capacity, as well as increasing demand for fuel domestically and generating foreign exchange for the country through exports.

“There will be constant availability of high-quality fuels for our transportation sector, the refinery will also make available to our industries vital raw materials for a wide range of manufacturing,” said Dangote, who partly financed the construction of the refinery.

Around 50% of the funds used to build the refinery came from Dangote’s equity investment while the other half came from debt finance from banks such as Access and Zenith banks.

“We have built a refinery with a capacity to process 650,000 barrels per day in a single train — which is the largest in the world.

We decided on a plant designed with state-of-the-art technology and a scale in a capacity that will be a game-changer in Africa and the global market,” Dangote added.

The refinery sits inside the Lekki Free Zone, a 16,500-hectare free trade area, the masterplan for which also contains a proposed airport, a start-up community, and commercial and residential areas.

Nigeria’s now suspended Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the refinery “is more than able to meet all of Nigeria’s domestic fuel consumption, given its processing capacity.”

Emefiele explained further that: “Nigeria can be self-sufficient in all products that we consume and at the same time export our excess output to the rest of the world.”

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Ado, who was also present at the event, described the Dangote refinery as a “spectacular project” which “makes West Africa better and stronger.”

The refinery size is seven times the size of Lagos’ Victoria Island, sitting on over 2000 hectares of land.

Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, while commending on a Channels Television live program on the oil industry crisis in Nigeria on June 8, took a swipe at the Buhari administration for spending billions of dollars on refineries, that are not working.

According to him, over $19 billion was spent on the repairs of the refineries but none is working, stressing that about the same amount was spent by Dangote to build the new world class Dangote Refinery in Lagos.

The federal government owns three refineries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt (Rivers), and Warri (Delta) but none is in optimal use yet.

Speaking on Channels Television Sunrise Daily, Sule lamented that the huge funds disbursed did not yield the expected result.

 In the eight years, he (Buhari) spent more money than the $19 billion that Dangote spent in building a refinery.

 “That is one and a half times the size of our three refineries. From the government side, I think we didn’t do a good job,” he admitted.

The governor added that while the refineries have a total of 450,000 barrels per day, Dangote’s facility boasts of 650,000.

Sule said the past administration should have focused on getting one refinery to work full capacity instead of trying to fix all three.

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