Refining in Africa

Oil refineries convert crude oil into fuel products, lubricating oils, bitumen and chemical feedstocks.

There are 43 operating and 4 mothballed oil refineries in Africa which range from small topping and reforming refineries to sophisticated complex refineries which can compare with the best in the world, and 4 synfuel plants. The total distillation capacity for the continent is 142,700 ktonnes per annum (2,854 thousand barrels per calendar day) or an average of 3,400 ktonnes per annum (68 tbpd) per refinery.

The major refining nation is South Africa with four complex refineries. Caltex has a 5500 ktonnes per annum (110 tbpd) refinery in Cape Town. Shell and BP have joint ownership of the 8250 ktonnes per annum (165 tbpd) Sapref refinery in Durban where Engen owns the 5250 ktonnes per annum (105 tbpd) Enref refinery. Sasol and Total are joint owners of the Natref refinery in Sasolburg which has a capacity of 4250 ktonnes per annum (85 tbpd). All the South African refineries have undergone major expansions and upgrading since 1990.

Nigeria also has four refineries, all of which are owned by the parastatal Nigerian National Oil Company, NNPC . The refineries are situated at Kaduna in northern Nigeria with a capacity of 5500 ktonnes per annum (110 tbpd), at in the south at Warri with a capacity of 6250 ktonnes per annum (125 tbpd) and Port Harcourt which has two refineries of capacity 3000 ktonnes per annum (60,000 bpd) and 7500 ktonnes per annum (150 tbpd). The Nigerian oil industry has been seriously impacted by operational problems during recent years with production well below capacity.

The third major refining centre in Africa is in Egypt which has 8 refineries and another 100,000 bpd refinery under construction.The other African country which can boast modern refineries is Algeria.

As a result of a study conducted by the Italian consultants Cuneo et Associati, the World Bank is pressing for the smaller refineries of sub-Saharan Africa to be closed or converted to storage facilities. On the East coast, these would include the Tiper refinery in Tanzania, the Solima refinery in Madagascar and the Indeni refinery in Zambia, while on the West coast the refineries threatened with closure include the Luanda refinery in Angola, the Pointe Noire refinery in Congo, the Port Gentil refinery in Gabon, the Sonara refinery in Cameroon, the Muanda refinery in the DRC and the Tema refinery in Ghana. The SAR’s Dakar refinery in Senegal is already in the process of being closed.

Two other refineries which might not be affected by the World Bank plans are the SIR refinery in Cote d’Ivoire and the Mombasa refinery in Kenya which have capacities of approximately 3550 and 3300 ktonnes per annum respectively.

Shaun Bakamoso

Greetings. I'm Shaun Bakamoso, and I'm thrilled to be your guide through the dynamic world of business news in South Africa here at With a passion for staying informed and a keen interest in the ever-evolving landscape of business, I've dedicated myself to providing you with timely, insightful, and comprehensive coverage of the latest developments impacting the South African economy. / Instagram