A milestone moment unfolded for the Nigerian mega-refinery developed by billionaire Aliko Dangote as it received its initial shipment of crude oil, marking a significant advancement in a project marred by delays. The refinery aims to entirely fulfill the country's fuel demands, as announced by the company on Saturday.
Over the last few days, a million barrels sourced from the Agbami offshore oil field, located off the Niger Delta, were offloaded by a vessel at the refinery situated in the Lekki free zone, east of Lagos, Nigeria's economic hub.
"This marks a crucial milestone," remarked Aliko Dangote, founder of Dangote Petroleum Refinery, in a statement released on Saturday. He added, "The subsequent significant step will be ensuring our products reach the Nigerian market."
Initially slated for completion in "late July, early August," the refinery's operation promises to put an end to the country's frequent fuel shortages and enhance the quality of circulating fuel.
Despite being among Africa's leading oil producers, Nigeria, with a population of 215 million, heavily relies on fuel imports due to its state refineries' inefficiencies, causing persistent fuel shortages for its citizens.
Commenced in 2013, the industrial project, costing over $18.5 billion (twice the initial estimate), stands as "the largest single-train refinery globally," according to the Dangote Group. At full capacity, it is expected to boast the highest crude refining capacity in Africa.
Initially set to process 350,000 barrels per day, the refinery's operations are projected to escalate to 650,000 barrels when fully operational, producing an array of fuels such as diesel, jet fuel, automotive fuel, and liquefied petroleum gas.
An additional 5 million barrels are anticipated to commence processing in the forthcoming weeks.
Strategically situated adjacent to the new Lekki deep-water port, the refinery aims not only to alleviate congestion at the Port of Lagos but also to export a portion of Dangote's refined oil to other African nations.
Mr. Dangote envisages that "a minimum of 40% of the refinery's capacity will be dedicated to exports, generating substantial foreign exchange earnings for the country" in the future.