Aliko Dangote. Picture: REUTERS
Aliko Dangote. Picture: REUTERS

Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote says he is on schedule for the completion by next year of his $15bn oil refinery, which will be one of the world’s biggest, despite analysts saying the timeline is ambitious.

“There are quite a lot of challenges, but we’re moving,” Dangote told reporters at a conference in Paris about the plant, which is being built near Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, and is designed to process 650,000 barrels of crude daily. “We’re still targeting next year for commissioning.”

The 61-year-old said he will export about 35% of the refinery’s product, while the rest will serve the local market. His Dangote Industries said last year the plan is to produce about 50-million litres a day of petrol and 15-million litres of diesel, though output can be changed according to demand.

The company has been in talks with oil traders including Royal Dutch Shell, Vitol Group and Trafigura Group about supplying crude and buying refined fuel. Analysts have questioned whether Dangote, worth $10.8bn according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s index, will be able to complete such a an enormous project on time and within costs.

Edinburgh-based Wood Mackenzie does not see the refinery starting production until 2022.

The complex will include a $2.5bn fertiliser factory with a capacity of 3-million tons annually, set to be ready this year, and a petrochemical plant. They will be powered by gas, which will be sent from the Niger River delta via two 550km underwater pipelines, also costing Dangote about $2.5bn.

“By next year, we’ll be exporting almost 2-million metric tons of urea and ammonia,” Dangote said.