Photograph — Hourann Bosci

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has received $997.4 million in training grant from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for his Dangote Oil Refining Company Ltd. located in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria.

“USTDA is pleased to support the Dangote Oil Refining Company’s efforts to increase Nigeria’s domestic refining capacity,” said USTDA Deputy Director Enoh Titilayo Ebong, who signed the grant agreement along with Mr. Aliko Dangote, Chairman and CEO, Dangote Group. “This program builds upon USTDA’s long history of support for vital infrastructure development in Nigeria.”

The grant will fund a multi-year program to train more than 100 staff of the Company on refinery fundamentals. The training is being provided, as part of a whole-of-U.S.-government advocacy campaign, in support of UOP LLC’s (Des Plaines, Ill.) agreement, through its affiliate UOP Limited, for the provision of technology licensing and engineering services to the Dangote Oil Refining Company for the development of the Lekki refinery.

In 2013, Dangote Industries Limited signed a loan agreement with a consortium of both local and international banks to the tune of $3.3 billion for the purpose of constructing the biggest Petroleum Oil Refinery & Petrochemical/ Fertilizer Plants in Nigeria. Dangote has invested $11 billion in the project which is expected to be completed by 2017.

With Nigeria’s state-owned refineries largely ineffective and producing a fraction of installed capacity, Africa’s largest oil producer has become the continent’s highest importer of refined oil products. But Dangote’s refinery will change this. At completion, the facility is projected to process about 500,000 barrels of crude daily — about a quarter of the country’s total crude production.

The new refinery will process crude oil to produce high-quality fuels that meet Euro V specifications for reduced emissions. The agreement between Dangote and USTDA is a major step forward in reducing dependence on imported fuels and petrochemicals in Nigeria, a country the Oil & Gas Journal estimates has the second-largest amount of proven oil reserves in Africa.

UOP will conduct the training program in Nigeria to maximize the number of trainees, as the scope is focused on refining processes and engineering, as well as on health, safety and environmental skills.

Dangoted recalled that just over 12 months ago, “we decided to address the paradox of Nigeria being one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of crude oil but also one of the world’s leading importers of refined petroleum products with our decision to invest in a 500,000 bpd refinery project”.

He noted that such high tech capital intensive project requires the right human capital to ensure its success. The grant will, therefore, immensely help the company to address this.

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