Work on the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote refinery being constructed at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos is currently at the sand-filling and soil piling stage, while some portions of the complex are being cleared of vegetation.

This stage of construction, the firm said, was not in any form a threat to the December 2018 completion date of the project.

It also maintained that the current construction stage was the most critical for the project and needed to be done meticulously and professionally.

Speaking during a facility tour of the refinery complex on Thursday, the Senior General Manager, Civil and Structural, Dangote Oil Refinery Company Limited, Mr. Madhav Kelker, said the refinery would commence operations in 2018 as initially scheduled.

He said the Dangote Group was building the largest refinery, petrochemical and fertiliser complex in Africa, with the petrochemical plant planned to produce 750,000 metric tonnes per year of polypropylene, while the fertiliser plant would handle 2.8 million metric tonnes per annum of urea and ammonia.

The 2,600-hectare land is undergoing advanced soil testing in some portions, and this is being handled by a South African firm based in India, Sarathy Geotech.

Kelker said, “The filling and piling work must be done first, and it must be done properly using the best available technologies in the world. It is a very critical part of the project.

“After this stage, we will commence the assembling and coupling of facilities. This will take us a few months. Some parts of the complex are currently being dredged and we are working with a Belgian firm, Jan De Null, in this respect.”

He added that many other companies were making progress at the Lekki Free Trade Zone, stressing that challenges from the host communities were being surmounted by the Dangote Group.

Speaking on the refinery’s location, Kelker explained, “Most people build refineries in porches and phases. This is a state-of-art technology with everything about the refinery situated in one site. The entire value chain (from crude injection to the end products and by-products reprocessing) are done in one site.

“Though the domestic market is big enough, we want to satisfy the market and serve other countries through petroleum products’ exportation. We will be saving foreign exchange for the country by refining locally, and we will also be generating foreign exchange for the country from proceeds generated from product exports.”

The Chairman, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, had said in 2013 that the project had effectively taken off with the award of the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the fertilizer plant to Saipem of Italy.

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Source : Punch