Recently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo commended the President of Azikel Group, Dr. Azibapu Eruani, for taking the bold step of pioneering investment in what is now the country’s first modular refinery.Obasanjo explained that of all the 18 licences his administration issued for such investment before its exit in 2007, none saw the light of day.
Equally, of the 22 licences issued by the Buhari administration in 2015, only Azikel Refinery, which was commissioned in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on February 18 this year by Obasanjo has become a reality.
Responding to this, Eruani stated.the burning desire to change the status quo and re-launch the Niger Delta region into prominence is his commitment as a business leader, with no desire for political participation. He explained that he is determined to re-invent the oil rich region and give it a pride of place on global industrial map.The Azikel Group is a conglomerate in the business of dredging, petroleum refining, power generation, aviation, construction and engineering. It comprises Azikel Dredging Nigeria Ltd., Azikel Petroleum, Azikel Air Ltd., Azikel Power and Azikel Construction.
On why he ventured into modular refinery Eruani said: “This drive was informed by my quest to alleviate the sufferings of Niger Delta people and Nigerians from the long, human and vehicular queues at filling stations, as well as the acute short supply, importation of refined crude and the burden of incessant increase in pump prices.”
The Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Baru Maikanti also said: “Of the initial refinery licences granted by President Muhammadu Buhari, Azikel Refinery is in the fore-front on delivery of refinery, having achieved the task in the phases I, II and III and a record performance of attaining 65 percent completion.”
At the event, Obasanjo stated.he initially doubted the seriousness of the project, as none of the 18 private refinery licences granted in his tenure moved to site.Eruani stated.he will be creating 10, 000 jobs for Bayelsans, while also pioneering the state’s industrial growth, as the cradle of oil and gas activities, where history was made, when oil was first struck in 1956 and exported in commercial quantity in 1958 from the Niger Delta to serve other geo-political zones in the country and the international community.
The project, sited on 19.9 hectares of land, would be the first conversion Greenfield refinery built in the country since the mid-70s.The Azikel Refinery would refine Bonny light crude oil, and condensate to produce Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), kerosene, Jet A1, diesel, LPG and heavy fuel oil, among other byproducts.
Explaining that he has never been more confident about the future of the project, Eruani said: “the race towards the finishing line is in sight. We are running with the baton to the finishing line, and I am most confident that we will get there. We will be the first ever indigenous refinery to dispense refined petroleum product to Nigerians.”