First private refinery in Niger Delta on course as Obasanjo lays foundation stone in Bayelsa

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  • 2019 targeted to end fuel scarcity in Niger Delta
  • Gov Seriake Dickson pledges full state government support
  • Obasanjo says he gave 18 refinery licenses, happy that Buhari gave 22
  • Azikel Refinery to produce 12,000 barrels per day
  • Obj says presence of foreign partners gives him confidence in Azikel refinery
  • Gov Dickson hails Buhari, asks for oil bloc to appease Niger Deltans
  • Governor wails over refineries outside Niger Delta, even outside Nigeria
  • Mourns refusal of oil majors to relocate to oil region as ordered by vice president

Codratus Godson (In Obuna, Yenagoa)

Hope for the emergence of the first private refinery in the Niger Delta region appeared real on Saturday, February 17, 2018, when no less a personality, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (PhD), who is a former head of state and former two-time President of Nigeria, laid the foundation stone of Azikel Refinery at Obuna town in Gbarian kingdom, outskirts of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, at noon after a downpour.

Dangote is building what may be Nigeria’sfirst private refinery but this is being built in Lagos to be fed with pipes from the oil region, all to the anger of Niger Deltans, but Azikel Petroleum is about being the first in the Niger Delta. This attracted huge excitement and a huge crowd of top leaders in the oil region and a handful of northeners including Professor Jerry Gana.

MRS Oil & Gas has signed on as off-taker saying they have found Azikel Refinery to be most serious refinery license holder. Obasanjo recalled how he gave out 18 licenses but none was actualized while President Muhammadu Buhari saw reasons in that liberalization policy and gave 22 licenses, yet, only Azikel is on course.

The President of Azikel Group, Dr Eruani Azibapu Godbless, a medical expert turned big-time entrepreneur, said preliminary works have so far taken two years to achieve 45 per cent completion due to the swampy landscapes. He said the rest work would run fast to 2019 because of fabrication and training already being done abroad.

He showcased top technical partners from the US that would ensure the success of the refinery experiment.

Dr Godbless, who is popular as Azikel, a name given to him by his mum as combination of all his names, mentioned costs in the region of $16m. The refinery is situated on 19.9 hectares of reclaimed land. A power project sits beside it. He said it would create 1000 jobs during construction stage.

Gov Seriake Dickson, who assured of maximum support from the Bayelsa State government, said this was the kind of gesture his people expected from the FG, and asked for oil blocs to make the people happy.

He said it was sad that a big refinery was located outside the oil region only to pump deploy billions of USDollars to pipe the raw material at a time people do complain of pipeline vandalism. He said one investor took his refinery project to Niger Republic when Nigerians needed jobs especially in the Niger Delta region.

He regretted that despite the order by the vice presient (then acting president) Yemi Osinbajo to the oil majors to move their headquarters to the Niger Delta, that nothing happened. He said his state lost huge taxes from oil companies that chose to operate outside Bayelsa State.

Oil experts led by former minister of petroleum under Obasanjo, King Edmund Daukoru, said the refinery would definitely double its capacity as soon as possible.

Azikel Group has Dredging, Petroleum, Aviation, and Power companies.