A billow of fire and thick fumes of burnt hydrocarbons to Kaduna residents is the signal that the Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company, KRPC, is in operation. This is accompanied by a flurry of activities, especially heavy traffic of petrol tankers, in and around the 1.2 square mile refinery, which is unarguably the biggest government investment north of the Niger and the Benue.
But, in the past 10 months, the fire has disappeared and the hustling around the refinery has also whittled down into a sober, low-level activity. Sunday Vanguard then decided to find out what is going on.
The Managing Director, MD of the facility, Engr Saidu Mohammed, a 1980 graduate of chemical engineering of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, laughed heartily from behind his table in his cosy office at the plant last Wednesday at the notion of the disappeared fire as a sign of lack of production, when Sunday Vanguard wanted to sieve out rumours from reality.
“Don’t worry that you don’t see the usual fire billowing out smoke which makes people know that we are producing, for now, we are steaming and that is what is most important”, he said.
He continued: “Tell you what?. That fire in itself requires gas, since it is gas we usually flare. But we cannot afford to waste it at this stage, because it is the same gas that we need to burn the heaters, to fire the heaters. So is it the same gas that you want to take and go and flare? If you have problem with the heaters, what happens? So the time will come when you see the fire again”.
Mohammed then went on to say that the KRPC was going through a radical overhaul of the refinery using Nigerian engineers only, and that the refinery was still producing. It turned out to be a very revealing encounter as he gave a narration of the ongoing effort to reposition the KRPC to optimal state.
TAM-Rehab, instead of shutdown
Said Mohammed: “We are doing TAM (Turn Around Maintenance)-Rehabilitation (TAM-Rehab) while the refinery continues to run. We try as much as possible not to shut down the entire refinery while this is going on. The whole essence is to say, “Look, the TAM that you have neglected for a while we are doing it; at the same time those equipment that have been troublesome, that need complete rehabilitation, we will make procurement orders for them and fix them.
“As the parts come, we rehabilitate; as the new ones come, we install. So that is the concept of TAM-Rehab.
“And we say we are going to earmark a period of 18 months beginning from October last year for the TAM-Rehab. So, invariably, by March next year, we should conclude the work.
“Not only did we give ourselves a time frame, we said we would do all we can to take the refinery from the present operating level of 60% to as high as 90%. In fact, even now, nothing stops us from pushing it to 80%, but can that be sustained, the answer is No!.
“For example, some compressors may fail; some pumps may fail. That is why we need to change such equipments. And once we change them, we would have improved, remarkably, the reliability of the refinery, then we can safely push the capacity.
“As a matter of fact, we can push it higher than 80% before now, but then we would be doing it just to test, but we cannot sustain that.
To hit 90% capacity next March
“But we can reliably sustain 60% operating level with all other things available. So the essence of this TAM-Rehab is to bring back the refinery to an acceptable level of performance, and we are looking at a utilisation level of 80 to 90%. Next, we want to make sure that we can sustain that level of performance by continuing going back to regular planned maintenance, including the TAM, again.
“Now, on the mini TAM, we have almost completed it, but we did not make noise about it. We call it mini TAM, because we are doing it in phases. Under the fuel section, the crude distillation unit, the Naphtha hydrating unit, the FCC, the basic four components of the fuel section – there is no heat exchanger that we have not fixed, cleaned and rebundled- or replaced.
“There is no column that we have not opened; where there are cases of damage, we have replaced or repaired them. There are no pumps that have not been fixed, and there are no compressors that have not been fixed. TAM is just like checking the engine of your car, repairing and fixing things that are bad. In fact, we have gone very far.
“We have finished two of the four phases. The other phases belong to the other section of the refinery, which, for now, are not a priority because it has to do with foreign crude to run that section. But the ones that are supposed to produce Liquid Petroleum Gas, LPG, gasoline, kerosene, diesel and fuel oil, all these are what we now concentrating on.
“ If you go into the plant now, you will see that we are steaming up. Forget about the fire from flaring, I know that is what people want to see. When we want, we can let that come out. The fluid distillation unit and the power plant are fully back.
Read more HERE