PTDF inaugurates zeolite working group to produce catalyst for indigenous refineries

The Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau has inaugurated the first Nigerian Zeolite Working Group with a charge to ensure large scale production of home grown Zeolite catalyst that would be utilized by Nigerian refineries for refining and related activities across the Nigerian oil and gas industry value chain.

GovernanceNews reports that, the setting up of the Zeolite working group followed the successful outcome of PTDF sponsored research on the development of Zeolite catalyst from Kankara Koalin. Membership of the Zeolite working group comprise representatives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dangote Refinery, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, (NCDMB), Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR) and the Ahmadu Bello University. The group will work out modalities for the commercialization and use of the Zeolite catalyst for refining and other applications in the Nigerian petrochemical industry.

The Executive Secretary urged the group to ensure delivery of its assignment within a reasonable time frame in view of the significance of the exercise to the industry in terms of cost and the need to develop the mid and downstream sector where value is created within the industry.

In his words, “If we are able to make serious headway in this, that would to a reasonable extent make appreciable impacts on the domestic oil and gas industry. So that’s why we are bringing all the necessary stakeholders together including of course the NNPC, the DPR, NCDMB, the refineries including Dangote Refinery. Going forward by the time we start refining, even if it’s just 50% of the crude we produce, the demand for such catalyst will be huge. So, I think it is really time we do something about it before we get to that point. So, this is the whole purpose of this exercise”.

Speaking earlier, Chairman of the committee, General Manager, Strategic Planning and Research, PTDF, Mr Jide Adebulehin, while explaining the terms of reference, said the committee will do its best to ensure that the Nigerian oil and gas industry gets value through Zeolite production which he said is of immense benefit to the nation.

“The terms of reference is essentially about the standardization of the existing pilot plants, bench marking, accessing what people have done on Zeolite across the country either in the universities, in the refinery or by the NNPC themselves. Look at other areas around the world where they have been able to industrialize Zeolite production for the purpose of enhancing the oil and gas industry. The ultimate objective of the working group is to be able to localize the production of Zeolite for our refining and petrochemical industry in Nigeria,” he added.

The chairman further explained that, the committee includes all the critical stakeholders in the utilization of Zeolite catalyst in the industry. “You will see that all the refineries, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Warri including Dangote Refinery are all represented and they are major participants in the working group and these are the people that will use the end product of the Zeolite. And so we are trying to carry all the important stake holders along so that at the end of the day when the commercialization process is mature, there won’t be any disagreement”.

On his part, Professor Baba El-Yakub Jibril, the current chair occupant of the PTDF research endowment at the ABU Zaria expressed confidence on the ability of the committee to achieve the commercialization process especially with the availability of the raw materials and the support being provided by PTDF and other stakeholders in the project.

He said, “This is a follow up to an earlier submission to PTDF on the research conducted by ABU Zaria. We used locally available clay material, kaolin from Kankara, Katsina State and converted that clay into Zeolite and this has been well established, we already have a registered patent between ABU and PTDF. Now this Zeolite Working Group is to commercialize that process. So all the chemistry, all the details and calculations have been done and our objective is to commercialize the process. Looking at the overall capacity requirement in terms of tonnage of Zeolite in Nigeria, in terms of stakeholders and those who will be buying the finished product, we can even extend to neighboring countries. Our target is that in the next few years, Nigeria should have all its Zeolite catalyst requirement produced in Nigeria”.

Professor El-Yakub who gave assurance that Nigeria will soon join the league of Zeolite producing nations, added that, “In the last ten (10) years, companies in Europe dominated the market. Now you have companies in Japan, China and even India producing Zeolite and in Brazil. So, our objective is for Nigeria to produce its own Zeolite. I can assure you, with the kind of support we are getting from PTDF, in the next few years there will be a plant in Nigeria producing large amount of Zeolite locally”.

Participating stakeholders in the committee assured the Executive Secretary of their determination to see to the success of the exercise within the stipulated time frame. They also commended PTDF for spearheading the process which they described as a very significant milestone in the PTDF research and development effort.

Nigeria as an oil producing country has been criticized for exporting its crude oil without making good effort to refine them. One of the basic materials needed for refining, to add value to our crude oil is the catalyst. It has the potential of generating substantial foreign exchange to the Nigerian economy.