The $20 billion Dangote Refinery is expected to come online with the refining of 650, 000 barrels per day capacity by the end of 2024, according to its owner, Africa’s richest man and Nigerian businessman, Aliko Dangote.
If all goes to plan, the refinery, located at the Lekki free zone near Lagos, Nigeria, could transform the continent’s biggest economy, reports the Financial Times.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Dangote, whose personal wealth is estimated by Forbes at $10.5 billion, said the 650,000 bdp refinery will be starting with 350,000 barrels a day, adding that adding that a deal had already been sealed for the “first cargo of about 6 million barrels” for delivery next month.
The paper noted that provided his Dangote Group can secure sufficient crude oil and the long-delayed plant works as it is supposed to, the refinery could start churning out diesel, kerosene and jet fuel as soon as next month (December).
Dangote also expressed optimism that the refinery could reach its capacity of 650,000 barrels a day by the end of 2024, despite doubts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it will reach more than a third of that by 2025, the report stated.
At full tilt, the refinery, the world’s largest “single train” facility with just one distillation unit, could save Nigeria billions in foreign exchange currently spent on imported fuel. It was “shameful”, Dangote said, that Nigeria, a major oil producer for more than 50 years, could not refine its own crude in anything like sufficient quantity, the paper reported.
While some observers doubt the Dangote refinery will work at all, or predict that it will be inefficient, Dangote conceded there were times when he thought the massive project — long delayed and about $8bn over budget — might jeopardise his business empire.
According to the interview, Dangote said, “The challenges that we faced, I don’t know whether other people can face these challenges and even survive. It’s either we sink or we sail through. And we thank Almighty that at least we’ve arrived at the destination.”
Africa’s richest man also told the Financial Times that the refinery was a “national project” that was “bigger than Dangote.”
Nigeria’s most successful businessman also rejected suggestions NNPC Ltd was playing hardball to negotiate a bigger share of the refinery, which he said would generate revenue of $25bn a year at full capacity. “I don’t think NNPC needs to buy more shares. I think they’re OK with what we’ve given them.”
After years of promises, Dangote was quoted as stating that everything was ready. “The refinery is done. The baby can come out at any time,” he said.
The refinery would eventually be floated as a separate company initially on the Lagos stock exchange, he added.
Nigeria’s former President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Dangote refinery on May 22, 2023.