•Company’s fertiliser to hit market this month
By Peter Uzoho
Dangote Group has announced that refined petroleum products from its 650,000 per day refinery under construction will hit the market by the last quarter of next year.
Also, products from its completed fertiliser plant will be in the market this month.
The Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Projects and Portfolio Development, Dangote Group, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, told journalists yesterday in Lagos that the refinery has reached 80 per cent completion, adding that engineering and construction were 100 per cent over while procurement was 98 per cent ready.
He said: “If you look at the overall percentage completion we are at 80 per cent. But that overall includes engineering and design, which is 100 per cent over. Procurement is about 98 per cent over. So, it covers various aspects. But the core activity which is going on today is construction.
“So, if you look at exclusively construction, we have finished 60 per cent of construction.
But overall, it is 80 at per cent level. The progress is going reasonably well.
“We had the impact of coronavirus because many of the countries where our equipment are being manufactured were affected.
“So, now, we hope to complete everything – all the assembling by the middle of next year. Then, we will start the commissioning process. Middle of next year, we start the commissioning process, and it’s a huge refinery, the commissioning process may take three to four months.
“And then with start of products coming into the market. So, by last quarter next year, we should have our products coming into the market.”
On the impact of the refinery on the price of petrol in the country, he said the basic economic principle of demand and supply would determine that.
Edwin explained that the increase in refining capacity in the country resulting in the rise in supply of petroleum products will bring the price down as was the case in the cement subsector in the country.
“This is a basic economic principle: demand and supply. When the demand exceeds supply, the price will go up. When the supply exceeds demand, the price will come down.
“You can see it in the refinery too. BUA too has announced that they are going to put up 200,000 barrels per day refinery. And you can see a lot of cottage refineries coming up – 5,000 barrels, 3000 barrels. So as more capacity comes in, the philosophy of demand and supply will automatically act.
“Yes, it (petrol price) will not crash in one day but with a period of time it will come down to almost half the price currently,” he added.
He noted that the group’s primary aim of venturing into building petroleum refinery was to add value to the country, especially as the nation’s foreign exchange has been getting weak over the years.
He said: “One of the primary reasons foreign exchange is just getting drained out is fuel.
You, people, know the acute crisis we are facing in dollars. I have been with you for 29 years, I have never seen this kind of crisis. There is something really radically wrong somewhere.
“Even during Abacha’s time when it was $8 per barrel, we didn’t face this kind of crunch. So if you have this kind of refinery, the forex outflow will be minimised, the currency destabilisation will stop.
“By the grace of God, probably the currency can even get strengthened because after all, a lot of naira is chasing a few dollars. So your dollars can be saved within the country.”
Edwin, however, stated that finished products from the Dangote Fertiliser Plant will be in the market this month.
“And talking of fertiliser, actually the commissioning has started. I hope by the grace of God, we will have the product coming into the market in this month,” he added.
According to him, 20,000 people are working in the refinery project and the group plans to employ as many as over 240, 000 people.
He said job creation was a key focus of the President of the group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, whom he said was always concerned about the rate of unemployment in Nigeria.