The Waltersmith refinery located in Imo state is the biggest commissioned modular refinery in Nigeria. The African refinery project is being developed in phases by Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company, a subsidiary of Nigeria-based Waltersmith Petromen Oil.

The phase one refinery development with an initial capacity of 5,000 barrels of crude oil a day (bpd) started operations in November 2020.

Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company is a joint-venture between Waltersmith Petroman Oil (70%) and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (30%).

Waltersmith was granted a license by Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources to establish the refinery in June 2015 and received the construction approval in March 2017. The final investment decision (FID) on the phase one refinery project was reached in September 2018.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of the refinery to 50,000bpd capacity took place in November 2020. The modular refinery is intended to reduce the import of petroleum products by Nigeria.


The Waltersmith refinery is located in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area, Imo State, in southeast Nigeria. It is situated near the Ibigwe marginal field flowstation.

Waltersmith refinery project development

The Waltersmith modular refinery comprises a crude distillation unit, tank farm, and other related facilities.

The modular refinery with an initial capacity of 5,000bpd is expected to deliver 271 million litres of refined petroleum products a year. The crude oil storage capacity of the refinery is approximately 60,000 barrels.

Subsequently, the refinery is planned to be expanded in phases to have a 20,000bpd crude oil refining facility and a 25,000bpd standalone condensate refining facility taking the total processing capacity to 50,000bpd.

The refinery receives feedstock from the Waltersmith-operated Ibigwe marginal field. The petroleum products produced in the refinery include diesel, naphtha, heavy fuel oil, and kerosene.

Africa Finance Corporation agreed to provide debt finance of approximately £26.5m ($35m) for phase one refinery development in July 2018.

Contracts awarded

Velem was awarded an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the initial 5,000bpd modular refinery project in April 2018.

Velem is a joint venture between US-based VFuels and Nigeria-based Lambert Electromec.

Ibigwe field

Ibigwe is an onshore marginal oil field located in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 16 in Imo State, Nigeria.

The field is operated by Waltersmith Petroman Oil which holds a 70% stake, while the remaining 30% stake is held by Morris Petroleum.

Waltersmith was awarded the Ibigwe field in the first Nigerian marginal oil field licensing round in 2003.

Earlier, OML 16 was operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company, while Waltersmith entered into a farm-out agreement with Shell and its partners to become the field operator in 2004.

Waltersmith installed an early production facility (EPF) at the field in March 2007 and achieved an average production of 500bpd in 2008. Subsequently, the EPF was upgraded to a flowstation with 15,000bpd capacity. The field’s production stood at approximately 6,000bpd in 2018.