China and India have agreed to build oil refineries in Nigeria rather than buying crude from it for export, a Nigerian official said on Tuesday. “What we have agreed with the Chinese is that we will now have a greenfield refinery located in the Niger delta,” head of Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources, Tony Chukwuemeke, said in the federal capital Abuja.
Three prominent Chinese companies operating in Nigeria — CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC — “have together committed themselves to make available a refinery” in the southern delta region, Chukwuemeke said. “I cannot tell you its capacity but it’s in the neighborhood of 450,000 barrels per day,” he said. “We are just beginning a discussion.”
Chukwuemeke said Nigeria has a similar cooperation agreement with India to establish another export-oriented refinery. Indian oil and gas group ONGC, teamed with steel giant Mittal, “have some oil blocks from Nigeria in the deep offshore and for that they have committed to build a refinery in Nigeria,” Chukwuemeka said. “Why will the Indians, renowned for having the best refinery in the world, not be happy to replicate the same thing here rather than asking us to give them crude oil to take to India to refine there?” Chukwuemeka said.
Nigeria currently has four refineries which recently resumed operations after a year of closure, but are still inadequate to meet the demands of the domestic market. The Nigerian government licensed 18 new investors two years ago to build more refineries but virtually all of them have been reluctant to commit their resources to the projects for fear of running at a loss. Nigeria, with a population of about 140 million, ranks as Africa’s largest oil producer but depends on imports for her domestic fuel consumption.
With additional input from Agencies and ECONOMIST Petroleum Intelligence Unit