Eni, NNPC to partner on Port Harcourt refinery revamp

Italy’s Eni SPA and Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. will work together on the modernization of NNPC subsidiary Port Harcourt Refining Co Ltd.’s (PHRC) refining complex in Rivers State, Nigeria.

Plans for the refinery’s renovation came as part of a Jan. 23 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Eni and the Nigerian government, under which the parties have agreed to promote activities to boost Nigeria’s social and economic development, the Italian operator said.

Alongside upstream measures that call for intensifying oil and gas production operations with an increased focus on development and exploration activities in the onshore, offshore, and ultradeepwater areas operated by Eni subsidiaries Nigerian Agip Oil Co. and Nigerian Agip Exploration, the MOU outlines Eni’s commitment to cooperate on rehabilitation and enhancement of the Port Harcourt manufacturing site.

Further details regarding the refinery’s proposed revamp, however, have yet to be disclosed.

Operated as an integrated refinery, the Port Harcourt refining complex includes a 60,000-b/sd hydroskimming refinery and 150,000-b/sd full-conversion refinery.

Rehabilitation program

Announcement of the Eni-NNPC partnership plan follows a series of recent initiatives by NNPC to aggressively advance its rehabilitation-and-expansion program at Nigeria’s state-owned refineries in order to meet the country’s domestic demand for fuels and curb its reliance on foreign imports (OGJ Online, Jan. 12, 2017; Dec. 21, 2016).

As part of its proposed $500-million rehabilitation program, NNPC in April 2016 launched a tender inviting bids from investors to become financial and technical joint venture partners for the phased modernization of its four refineries, which in addition to PHRC’s two refineries, include Warri Refining & Petrochemcial Co. Ltd.’s 125,000-b/sd refinery in Delta State, and Kaduna Refining & Petrochemical Co. Ltd.’s 110,000-b/sd refinery in Kaduna State (OGJ Online, Jan. 2. 2017).

Aiming to make each plant a standalone profitable entity operating at 100% capacity, the program calls for restructuring the refineries to operate as incorporated JVs, with NNPC holding 51% interest and its potential partner 49% interest. If selected, partners will agree to fund, rehabilitate, and jointly operate the refineries with NNPC for a defined period, and in return, receive all offtake and marketing rights to refined products to be sold primarily in the Nigerian market until each partner recovers its investment.

While NNPC has yet to disclose detailed results of the rehabilitation-and-operations tender, the company previously confirmed it was in discussions with Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Chevron Corp., and Total SA for technical partnership and support in modernizing the government-owned refineries.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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