Work is underway to meet the 2020 date set for the commencement of production at the Dangote refinery, as China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation announced that it had shipped a piece of vital equipment which would be installed at the Dangote Refinery.

The Chinese company, which is also known as Sinopec Corporation said the equipment, ‘atmospheric tower’, is the world’s largest and it set sail yesterday, July 29, 2019. The Chinese oil and gas company based in Beijing, China, didn’t reveal when the equipment is expected to reach the shores of Nigeria, but there is a projection that it will reach Nigeria in the next one month.

What’s an atmospheric tower? According to McKinsey Energy Insight, Atmospheric distillation also known as ‘atmospheric tower’, is the first and most fundamental step in the refining process. The primary purpose of the atmospheric distillation tower is to separate crude oil into its components (or distillation cuts, distillation fractions) for further processing by other processing units.

The Dangote Refinery, when completed, will be the largest in Africa. It is expected to average 650,000 barrels per day. According to Aliko Dangote, the founder of Dangote Group, the refinery which would cost between $12-$14 billion would be completed in 2019, with the commencement of production planned for 2020.

The feasibility of the planned date: According to Citac analyst, Jeremy Parker, the time-frame set for production is not realistic, considering the content the refinery will be producing. Citac said it’s expecting operation to begin three years after the projected date. This means that to the analyst, production would commence in 2023.

Parker, however, commended the shipment of the atmospheric tower.

“This is a major milestone, but there is still much work to be done, both in terms of sourcing the other units and interconnection at the site.”

Dangote Refinery Atmospheric tower

The benefit of the refinery to Nigeria: Apart from increasing the number of production per day, the refinery will provide jobs to local contractors for the development of the plant and maintenance of the refinery.

According to a report, as part of his plan to contribute to the Nigerian content development initiative, Dangote has already awarded $368 million worth of contracts to 120 local contractors that will see to the development of the refinery and petrochemical project.

While speaking of the essence of the Dangote Refinery, which includes providing employment opportunities, Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development and Capital Projects, Devakumar Edwin, acknowledged that enormous expertise would be needed.

Edwin also stated that the Dangote Refinery would be equipped enough to export petrol, diesel, and kerosene. It would also make aviation fuel available for local needs.