BUA Group set to build 200,000 bpd refinery in A’Ibom

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Nigeria’s leading conglomerate, BUA Group has selected France’s Axens for a multibillion-dollar 200,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery and petrochemicals plant in Nigeria, the French company said in a statement on Tuesday.

The contract was signed in Paris between BUA Group Executive Chairman?CEO Abdul Samad Rabiu, and the CEO of Axens, Jean Sentenac, in a ceremony presided over by France’s Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Franck Riester.

The BUA project will be located in Nigeria’s oil-producing region of Akwa-Ibom state, the statement said.

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Axens, which makes systems to convert oil and biomass to cleaner fuels, said it will provide technology for the greenfield project designed to produce Euro-V fuels and polypropylene targeted at domestic and regional markets.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil exporter, aims to become a net exporter of gasoline and other petroleum products over the next two years as refinery projects in the West African country come on stream, the industry regulator said on Tuesday.

“This large complex will help in reducing Nigeria’s dependence on imported fuels and petrochemicals,” said BUA, which also has interests in cement, food and mining.

For Axens CEO Sentenac, the technologies that Axens is licensing will give Lagos the chance to breathe easier: “We are the world leader in the Euro 5 fuel standard; this has already reduced car pollution in Europe by a factor of 5 or 6, and it also allows Nigeria to start using the latest generation of fuel efficient engines, the first step towards fighting global warming.” The plant also has the ability to refine biofuels.

Rabiu believes his investment in sustainability — “It was not cheap!” — will pay off in the long run, as new fuel standards continue to evolve along with the climate crisis. “It is in the DNA of BUA Group; look at our cement plants, the most sustainable in Nigeria, same with our sugar plants.”

“This is the hard part, we cannot get this wrong”, says Rabiu. “It is like in an aeroplane, you always look at who built the engine, it is the most important thing”.

Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Riester believes this club is, “one of the things that will help build up the necessary intrapersonal relationships” between industrial players in the two countries, part of a wider French strategy of greater engagement in anglophone Africa.