By DREW HINSHAW
ACCRA, Ghana -- Nigerian officials this week disputed claims by
private investors that they had already received the
government's endorsement for a plan to build large oil refinery
in Nigeria, a major oil-exporting country that refines very
ittle of the crude it produces.
In a statement emailed Monday, Niger Delta
Refinery and Petrochemicals Co. said it has found
investors willing to spend $1.7 billion building a refinery in Nigeria.
But the country's regulator for petroleum resources said the project still requires government
approval, undermining a claim on a website for one of the three
involved companies that the project was just awaiting completion
Nigeria produces 2.6 million bbl of
light, low-sulphur crude each day - more than any other country
in Africa. The Nigerian crude's properties make it easy to
Yet the nation's decrepit refineries process almost none of
that crude, leaving the country of 167 million people dependent
on oil imports. Indeed, most of the petroleum the planned
refinery would produce would be exported, the statement
Niger Delta Refinery and Petrochemicals said its majority
shareholder, closely-held Singaporean investment fund Eton
Finance Private Ltd., agreed to finance, build, and jointly
operate a new refinery with local company Qua Petroleum
The announcement didn't include further detail on the funding
or ownership of the new refinery. When telephoned, a
receptionist for Eton's Nigeria office said company officials
wouldn't offer additional comment.
Qua's two principal assets - listed on the
company's website - appear to be a plot of land two kilometers
from an ExxonMobil oil terminal plus a license to construct a
refinery, granted in 1996. At that time, Nigeria was under the
thumb of military dictator Sani Abacha.
The company's website says the license is
still valid, but regulators from Nigeria's Department of
Petroleum Resources disagree. Going by the department's
records, Qua's license expired in April 2006 and hasn't been
since revalidated, Deputy Director for Public Affairs Belema
Osibodu said in a forwarded email exchange.
"It does take a while for refinery projects to go from agreements
signed to actualization," Mrs. Osibodu wrote in her email.
Niger Delta Refinery and Petrochemicals' statement said the
company would "complete financial and administrative
formalities within the next two months." Qua wasn't immediately
able to comment when contacted by Dow Jones Newswires.
Dow Jones Newswires