With limited capacity to build reserves via deadweight tonnage of tanker fleets through Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC), the Federal Government may leverage the 2.4 billion litre crude storage facility by Dangote Refinery to serve as the country’s strategic reserve.

Strategic petroleum reserves are stockpiles of crude oil maintained by countries for release in the event of a supply disruption. The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is the world’s largest with a capacity of 727 million barrels.

Nigeria’s oil reserves, less than 40 billion barrels, are mostly untapped and sold on the spot, thus weakening its capacity to get good deals compared with countries with strategic inventories.

According to the Executive Director, Strategy Capital Projects and Portfolio Development, Dangote Group, Devakumar Edwin, the refinery, which boasts of 4.742 billion litres storage capacity, will serve as a strategic reserve for the country.

A breakdown of the storage capacity showed that 2.4 billion litres would be assigned to crude while the remaining would be used as storage for refined fuels.

Edwin, who conducted the minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, round the Dangote Petroleum Refinery, Petrochemicals and Dangote Fertilizer Plant, said 75 per cent of hydraulic testing of the refinery, as well as 70 per cent of electrical cable fitting, have been completed preparatory to the completion of the refinery in the fourth quarter of this year.

Edwin said 75 per cent of the products of the refinery (petrol, kerosene, aviation fuel and diesel) will be dispatched through the sea, by which products could be transported to Calabar, Warri, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the coming on stream of the Dangote Petroleum Refinery, Petrochemicals and Dangote Fertilizer Plant would help to ensure energy and food security in the country.

The minister said: “We must not fail to appreciate the fact that it’s not just that we will be self-sufficient in terms of food security and energy security, but the quality of our refined products and fertilizer will be world-class.”

Mohammed said that the refinery will ensure the availability of the highest quality Euro V Grade petroleum products, the fertilizer plant is producing granulated urea, which is of the highest quality and which does not become sticky and cause loss of value to the farmers.

He said the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery, which is expected to be commissioned this year, will be a game-changer in terms of employment generation, contribution to the GDP and conservation of foreign exchange.

“Based on what we have heard here today with regards to the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery, it would be a game-changer once it comes on stream in terms of employment generation. The refinery as of today employs 35,000 people every day.

“There will be huge value addition that will contribute to the increase in GDP, conservation of foreign exchange as there will be no more importation of petroleum products, generation of foreign exchange through export of finished product, availability of petroleum products thus ending petrol queues, and attraction of foreign capital investments,” the minister said.

He said the Dangote Fertilizer Plant, which was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari last month, has made Nigeria the leading producer of urea in Africa.

“With the coming on stream of the Dangote Fertilizer Plant, Nigeria is now self-sufficient in the production of urea. Nigeria is now the leading producer of urea in Africa. The Dangote Fertilizer plant is already exporting to the US, India, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.

We were fortunate to witness a ship being loaded with urea for export to Argentina during our visit today,” Mohammed said.

He said currently the fertilizer plant provides 1,500 direct jobs and 15,000 indirect jobs.

The minister, who commended the President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, for boosting investor confidence in Nigeria, said the federal government will continue to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

“Under this Administration, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has implemented over 150 reforms, moving Nigeria up 39 places on the World Bank Doing Business index since 2016. Mr. President also signed the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (CAMA 2020) – Nigeria’s most significant business legislation in three decades.

“The result of this favourable business environment is the birth of new businesses such as the $2.5 billion Dangote Fertiliser Plant that will produce three million metric tonnes of urea every year; the 650,000 barrels per day oil refinery due to open later this year; Lekki Deep Sea Port, one of the most modern seaports in West Africa; BUA’s three million metric tonnes cement plant; the 5,000 barrels per day Modular Refinery in Ibigwe, Imo State, and three more modular refineries to be commissioned before May 2023 in Edo and Bayelsa states, just to mention a few,” he said.