‘Level of deterioration at Port Harcourt refinery shocking’– MD speaks on challenges

Shehu Malami, managing director of Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), says the poor state of infrastructure at the refinery is shocking.

Malami made this known in an interview published in a quarterly publication by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The PHRC MD who has been at the helm of affairs for almost two years said one of the worst experiences he encountered was an oil spillage caused by the failure of an atmospheric residue storage tank in January.

“The greatest challenge was that of poor state of infrastructure. When I came back to PHRC as managing director, I was shocked at the level of deterioration of the facility,” he said.

“That notwithstanding, we tried to do our best in running the refinery with the help of the top management of NNPC.

“The result of the poor state of infrastructure was that every day we were having one challenge or the other. It is either a heat exchanger is failing or an air fun cooler is leaking, or a pump is bad, and so on.

“The worst failure we experienced was that of the atmosphere residue storage tanks. One failed in January this year spilling a lot of oil in the bund wall surrounding the tank. The second tank failed towards the end of April 2018, but this failure was noticed very early.

“The other challenge has to do with the people; people think they can come here and sit down and you can just package a contract and handover.”

According to him, some units of the refinery had to be shut down because of haulage constraints.

“In the new refinery, the crude distillation unit (CDU) and the vacuum distillation unit (VDU) are available. We were only forced to shut them down because of haulage constraint,” he said.

“The major problem for us is that the catalytic reforming unit (CRU) has not been available for very many years and, although we made every effort to bring back the unit and had the support of top management, especially the COO (Chief Operating Officer) Refineries and the GMD (Group Managing Director), our efforts did not yield the desired result.”