In an interview with Channels Television at the launching of the Dangote Refinery, Nigeria’s billionaire business magnate, Femi Otedola, spoke about Aliko Dangote’s key inspiration for the refinery’s development. He said that he and Aliko Dangote formed the Blue Star partnership in 2007 to try to buy the Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries, but that the deal fell through for an undisclosed reason, driving Aliko Dangote to build his own refinery.
The newly built refinery in Ibeju-Lekki is more than a new structure. For the billionaire, it’s more than just a new venture. If the refinery goes as planned, it might signal the start of a major shift in Nigeria’s economy.
According to him the construction of the refinery started as far back as 2012. He said, “I’m very excited today. Today is one of the happiest moments in my life to see this project come to reality. This is a project I have been visiting with Aliko since 2012.” He added that refining crude oil locally is what Nigeria needs at the moment as this would drastically reduce the prices of petroleum products.
The journey towards the construction of the refinery began in 2007, according to him, when he and his friend , Aliko Dangote, “formed a consortium called Blue Star, to acquire the Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries which for whatever reasons, was scuttled; the takeover was scuttled and Aliko said he was going to build his refinery.
In Nigeria, we have an abundance of crude oil, yet we import petroleum products, automatically hiking the price of those products as it is affected by a lot of factors including import duties. He recalled, saying “At some point in my life, I used to control 92% of that market. When I used to do the business, a ship load of diesel cost $22 million to import which then will translate to maybe 60 naira per litre. But it’s disheartening for me to see the price of diesel today, when I know the landing cost”, he said, stressing that “the market is being exploited. That is why, when you have few people in a business, it’s not the best for any country”.
He described the refinery as the largest in the world and pointed out that “what that means is the cost of importing products will come down definitely. It will create local jobs, hundreds of thousands of jobs and it will stop the importation of petroleum products which to me is not the best for a country like ours that has more than enough crude oil. So, it’s appalling to see us importing petroleum products”.