Refinery: Why Modular May Not work

[ctt_author author=”12175″ name=”” template=”1″ link=”HBnEU” via=”no” ]Refinery: Why Modular May Not work[/ctt_author]


The plan by the federal government to establish modular refineries to replace illegally operated ones in the creeks of the Niger Delta region comes with social and economic benefits but there are enormous challenges ahead.


An aerial view of the creeks of the Niger Delta region gives a graphic detail of the environmental pollution and degradation compounded by the operation of illegal refineries. As the self-made ‘petroleum engineers’ of the creeks cook their crude oil, drawn from ruptured pipelines that crisscross the swamps within locations considered to be their natural habitat, thick black smokes billow from the mangrove forests to the skies, in most cases, turning what is left of the green vegetation to black.

For instance, not long ago, residents of Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, woke up to discover that the sky was covered by a black powdery substance that stained virtually everything in their environment – cars, floors, clothes and even their skin. Environment experts later identified the substance as black soot that must have been emitted from release of hydrocarbon elements from refineries, abattoirs, asphalt plants, petrochemical industries and public incinerators. However, in view of the fact that the human activities mentioned by the experts also exist in other parts of the country without the appearance of the strange black substance, it was quite easy to zero in on emissions from makeshift refineries operated by indigenous people in the creeks and the impact of their destruction by security agents on military operation code named Operation Delta Safe.

Out of grave concern for the possible health implications, Nyesom Wike, Rivers State governor set up a special task force to investigate the source of the soot and take measures to stem its emission. Consequently, special guidelines were issued to residents to guard against the likely hazards. But that negative effect is limited to the region. It certainly would not have caught the attention of the central government, had the illegal activities not impacted negatively on national economy.

Tell Cover

Tell Cover


So worried by the sharp drop in crude oil exports due to theft from crude oil pipelines, coupled with perennial militancy in the region, the federal government proposed the establishment of modular refineries to replace the crude and hazardous local refineries in the creeks. But can the modular refineries resolve the environmental and social crises in the Niger Delta? Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who went on tour of the region in his capacity as acting president while President Muhammadu Buhari was on medical vacation in London, believes so. That is why he made the establishment of the refineries a cardinal message he delivered to the people of the region.

But how feasible is the idea of modular refinery? The magazine found out that this is really not a new idea. The news here is that it is receiving official approval for the first time, particularly in terms of policy statement by the central government.For several years, some oil-producing states of the Niger Delta region, with support of the federal government, had invested money, time and[/ctt]

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