THE management of Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC), has raised alarm on the problem of low product evacuation system, currently posing threat to the operations of the refinery.

This is coming on the heels of improved production feat recorded by the refinery, after undergoing a thorough rehabilitation and upgrade, which has allowed the plant to overshoot production capacity.

Giving an update of the plant in a statement recently, the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Andy Yakubu, said that the plant has exceeded its designed petrol extrusion ratio after local engineers regenerated the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) of the refinery.

According to him, the refinery, which has flooded proximate markets with products and stabilised prices is seriously challenged with product evacuation constraints that threaten production from the plant.

The regeneration of the FCCU, he said, allowed it to exceed the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) extrusion from design capacity of 30 per cent per barrel of crude oil to 35 per cent, an achievement, which he said, has contributed to greater output of the prime transportation fuel to exceed immediate market demand.

“For the first time in the history of domestic refining, all the process units are running at full integrated operational mode,” Yakubu declared.

He however pointed out that full stream of the plants has led to storage problems as products storage tanks have filled up following the loss of Warri-Benin distribution pipeline and slow load out with road tankers.

Following imbalance between production and off-take, he said, the 125,000 barrels per day refinery has been reduced to 80 per cent installed capacity to process 100,000 barrels per day.

Consequently, daily output from the plants comprises 4.5 million liters of petrol, 3.0 million liters of diesel, 2.0 million liters of kerosene, 400 metric tons of cooking gas while the remaining are fuel oil.

In view of the challenges, Yakubu said managements of both WRPC and the sister company, Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) are working together to address the problem temporarily, by deploying coastal vessels to increase volume off-take, while other measures are being worked out.

He said, the use of coastal vessels was aided by rehabilitation of the Warri refinery jetty by local contractors.

It was confirmed that two coastal vessels with combined cargo capacity of 30 million liters of products were loading different products at the jetty at the weekend, while others waited for turns at nearby jetties in the area.

According to Yakubu, the marine tankers are deployed to ship products from the refinery to bridge supplies to Lagos, Calabar and Port Harcourt where supply gaps still existed.

Other evacuation strategies, he said, are being worked out between WRPC and PPMC to ensure continuous operation of the refinery which, according to him, has contributed in cutting products import by over 40 per cent.

Explaining how the technical feat was recorded by local engineers and contractors, Yakubu said the management of the refinery had assembled a team of in-house engineers and local contractors to deliver on the mandate to reduce fuel queues at filling stations and assist in cutting the nation's fuel import bills through local refining.

He disclosed that the refusal of expatriate technical partners of the refinery to honour invitation to assist in rehabilitating the refinery offered the local engineers and contractors the opportunity to recover full processing capacity of all the units for the first time in the history of the refinery.