Warri-RefineryThe problematic Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, WRPC, yesterday resumed operations, about six weeks after it was gutted by fire.

Findings by National Mirror showed that the plant came on stream in the early hours of yesterday, after a protracted battle by the personnel of a contracting firm and in-house technicians to resuscitate the pioneer crude refining company.

Reliable sources in the plant told National Mirror yesterday that some major components of the plant, especially the Reforming Unit, RU, and Topping Unit, TU, have been successfully rehabilitated to pave the way for unhindered operations. Consequently, it was learnt that the company promptly resumed production of petrol, kerosene and diesel.

It was, however, learnt that efforts to bring the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit, FCC unit, a component regarded as the heart of refining operations, were futile. Investigations by National Mirror showed that relevant technicians were mustering efforts to repair the leakages detected during the start-up of the strategic unit, as at press time yesterday.

One of our sources said production capacity of the refinery would step as soon as the FCC came on stream. It will be recalled the refinery went up in flames on Tuesday, October 22, in a yet to be ascertained circumstances.

The fire, which erupted from a unit popularly referred to as “Area 1” in the refining complex, which produces kerosene, diesel and other by-products of petroleum products, especially light and heavy naphtha and heavy gas oil, damaged some multi-million dollars equipment in the plant.

The fire outbreak led to an abrupt closure of the refining plant. A top member of the management told National Mirror yesterday that the plant was stable; adding that steady production of petroleum products had begun.

The Managing Director of the plant, Mr. Paul Obelley, could not be reached for his reaction to the report yesterday. But an official of public affairs department confirmed that the plant was back on stream. WRPC, the first governmentowned refinery was inaugurated in 1978 to process 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

However, it was redesigned in 1987 to process 125,000 barrels of crude oil per day. But the plant had operated epileptically since inception due to poor maintenance of its strategic component units. The authorities had consistently failed to carry out mandatory Turn-Around-Maintenance, which is expected to be done every four years, a development which had forced the plant to operate at less than 60 per cent of its installed capacity.

 

[National Mirror]

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