By Ngozi Ekhator
Dangote Refinery on Sunday took delivery of world’s largest crude distillation column equipment in Lagos. Capt Rajen Sachar, Head, Maritime and Ports Infrastructure of Dangote told newsmen during the arrival of the facility in Lagos that the equipment is the biggest single-train facility used for refining crude oil.
It would be recalled that the atmospheric equipment which was manufactured by Sinopec company in China is the primary unit processor of crude oil into fuels.
Sachar said the crude oil consists of various chemical components that have different molecular sizes, molecular weights and boiling temperatures.
He added that the crude distillation column works on the principle of fractional distillation leading to separation of various components in the mixture on the basis of their different boiling points.
According to him, ” Crude oil enters the top of the column, where the inlet temperature is 165 degrees centigrade gradually increasing to 357 degrees centigrade at the bottom of the column.
“During this passage the crude and its vapours pass through a complex web of internal trays to increase the contact time and surface area within the column with the hot vapours travelling upwards through bubble caps which allow the vapour to pass through the tray with
the cooler liquid flowing downward the column.
“When the vapour reaches the height within the column where its boiling point is equal to the temperature of the column at that height it condenses to form a liquid.
“The liquid then collects on various trays in the column at differing heights from where it is extracted out of the column.
“It is therefore critical to control the heat load of the column to optimize the crude crack.
“These separated fractions are mainly middle distillates namely, Naphtha, Jet Fuel, Kerosene, Gasoline and Gas Oil,” Sachar added.
The company’s captain said that the refinery when completed will produce Euro-V quality gasoline and diesel, as well as jet fuel and polypropylene.
He said that the crude column will enhance the economy of Nigeria and all neighbouring countries in Africa by making available refined petroleum products meeting world standards emission norms of Euro 5 and Euro 6.
The captain said the strategic location of Nigeria in West Africa continent will help in reducing the transportation costs of the fuels to other countries in the African sub-continent.
“Thereby providing cost effective high grade petroleum products to them.
“This Refinery with a capacity of 650 kbpsd is higher than the total demand of Nigeria.
“Thus catapulting Nigeria position from net importer of petroleum products to a net exporter of petroleum products. Thereby redefining Nigeria’s position in the global petroleum product market.
He said that the equipment was capable of refining 650,000 barrel per day (bpd) which he said was designed to be Africa’s largest, with potential to transform the country from an importer of fuel to a net exporter.
He said that the technology is significant to Nigeria and Dangote refinery, because ” this is the largest crude oil processor in the world”.
According to him, This technology will bring multiplier effect positive to the company and Nigeria through supply to huge market.
Sachar said that the project is also expected to generate over 9,500 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs.
“The Crude Distillation Column is the largest in terms of distilling capacity which is 650 thousand barrels per stream day.
“Presently, this is the world’s largest single train refining Column.
“The dimension of this equipment has a weight of 2250 metric tonnes,112.5 meters length, 14.036 meters width and 13.752 meters height,he said.
Sachar said:It is the largest diameter, longest length and the heaviest single-unit equipment in domestic export equipment.
“It will be installed in the world’s largest single-series refinery – the 32.5 million tonne/year Dangote refinery in Nigeria.
He said that crude oil processor took 14 months in construction by Sinopec company in China and eight weeks to bring it down to Nigeria.
“We decided to ship it through vessel from China to avoid been damaged and also to avoid traffic congestion if using roads from Apapa.
“Dangote refinery also invested heavily in dredging to sea from refinery to Apapa for easy passage of the vessel.
He said that the President of the company, Alhaji Aliko Dangote is passionate about technology transfer to Nigerians.
Sachar said Dangote Oil Refinery Company is currently training young Nigerian engineers in refinery operations in preparation for the take-off of its Lagos refinery and petrochemical plant in Indian.
He said engineers were currently undergoing training in Mumbai, India.
He said the training programme was a continuum as more engineers would be trained to work effectively in the fertilizer plant and refinery being built by the company.
In his remarks, Mr Lawal Fagbo Saheed, Pilot Grade 1 of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) who accompanied the vessel from Apapa port to Dangote jetty commended the vessel crew who brougth the equipment from China.
He said that it took seven hours to drive the vessel from Apapa to Dangote due to the heavy equipment.
According to Saheed, ” It took an experienced and patient pilot to move the vessel to the final destination due to sea waves.
” We are happy today that am also part of progress and am proud to be associated with such landmark achievement.
*The Dangote Refinery distillation equipment