Nigeria's Dangote refinery receives first crude cargo
(Reuters) - The Dangote oil refinery in Nigeria received its first cargo of 1 million barrels of crude oil from Shell International Trading and Shipping Co, bringing the start of operations closer after years of delays.
Once fully running, the 650,000 barrel-per-day refinery funded by Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote will turn oil powerhouse Nigeria into a net exporter of fuels, a long-sought goal for the OPEC member that almost totally relies on imports.
Dangote Group said in a statement seen by Reuters on Friday that the cargo of 1 million barrels of crude from Agbami - a deep water field run by Chevron - was the first of 6 million barrels that would enable an initial run of the refinery.
That will kick-start output of diesel, aviation fuel and Liquefied Petroleum Gas, before the refinery later starts producing Premium Motor Spirit.
A Dangote Group spokesperson said the STASCO cargo arrived on a chartered vessel and was discharged into the refinery's crude oil tanks.
The next four cargoes will be supplied by state oil firm NNPC in two to three weeks and a final cargo will come from ExxonMobil, Dangote Group's statement said.
Nigeria's state oil firm NNPC Ltd signed an agreement in November to supply the Dangote refinery with up to six cargoes of crude starting this month. NNPC has a 20% stake in the refinery.
Despite being Africa's biggest oil producer, Nigeria experiences repeated fuel shortages. It spent $23.3 billion last year on petroleum product imports and consumes around 33 million liters of petrol a day.
"Our focus over the coming months is to ramp up the refinery to its full capacity," Dangote was quoted as saying in the statement.
Nigeria commissioned the refinery in May, after it ran years behind schedule. At a cost of $19 billion, the massive petrochemical complex is one of Nigeria's single largest investments.