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Dangote Refinery cuts Africa’s $17 billion European oil imports.

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Dangote Refinery cuts Africa's $17 billion European oil imports.
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Wema Bank Alat

Dangote Refinery cuts Africa’s $17 billion European oil imports.

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Nigeria’s Dangote oil refinery is poised to slash the annual $17 billion gasoline importation from Europe to Africa, placing additional stress on European refineries threatened by rising competitive forces.

A Reuters report suggests that the full operational capacity of the refinery might force the closure of several small European refineries, unable to withstand the competitive pressures in the European and US markets.

The refinery, which commenced production in January following a construction cost of $20 billion, boasts a refining capacity of 650,000 bpd.

Upon reaching its full capacity, expected either this year or next, it will become the largest refinery across Africa and Europe.

Dangote Refinery to Undercut Africa’s Oil Import Dependency from Europe
In 2023 alone, approximately one-third of Europe’s average gasoline exports, which stood at 1.33 million barrels per day (bpd), were destined for West Africa, making it the largest regional recipient.

Notably, Nigeria was the primary endpoint for most of these exports, according to data from Kpler.

Despite being the most populous country in Africa and its leading oil producer, Nigeria has to import nearly all of its fuel because it lacks the necessary refining capacity.

“The loss of the West African market will be problematic for a small set of refineries that do not have the kit to upgrade their gasoline to European and U.S. specifications,” consultancy FGE’s head of refined products Eugene Lindell told Reuters.
Moreover, Kpler’s analyst Andon Pavlov noted that 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Europe’s refining capacity could face shutdown due to the surge in global gasoline production.

According to Pavlov, the refineries in Grangemouth, UK, and Wesseling, Germany, are at risk of premature closure because of an impending glut in gasoline and the resulting strain on refining profits.

The Shrinking Sector of European Refineries
In addition to the mounting pressure of the emergence of a Dangote refinery supplying oil and energy to Nigeria and other neighbouring countries in Africa, European refineries have struggled to maintain an upward trajectory for decades due to market fluctuation and less demand for fossil fuels globally.

Data from the refining industry organization Concawe indicates that approximately 30 European refineries have been closed since 2009, leaving nearly 90 facilities of diverse sizes and complexities operational.

Since 2016, Europe has lost 1.52 million barrels per day of operational crude distillation, which currently stands at 13.93 million bpd, consultancy IIR’s data shows.
Most of the decrease took place in 2021 and 2022 as demand destruction during the COVID-19 pandemic forced shutdowns.
European refineries are unable to produce the amount of diesel required to satisfy regional demand, yet they generate an excess of gasoline, depending on exports to manage the surplus.
Implications for the Nigerian Oil and Gas Sector
The decrease in imports from West Africa is expected to occur simultaneously with the introduction of new environmental regulations in Northwest Europe.

These regulations will compel refineries to either modify their operations, find new markets for their lower-quality gasoline, or shut down.
With the $20 billion refinery coming into operation, Nigeria is set to achieve complete energy independence in its oil and gas sector.
Meanwhile, the Dangote refinery, owned by Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, can churn out as much as 53 million liters of gasoline each day, or around 300,000 bpd.

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