A piece of equipment designed to process crude oil for Dangote refinery set sail on Monday from China, Business Hallmark has gathered.

The oil company engaged to build the equipment, Sinopec, made this known in a tweet on Monday.

“On July 29, the world’s largest atmospheric tower built by Sinopec slowly left a wharf in Ningbo,” the company said via its verified Twitter handle, @CinopecNews. “Following the Maritime #SilkRoad, it will travel to #Nigeria and be installed at the world’s biggest single-train facility – Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery.”

Citac analyst, Jeremy Parker, told Reuters on Monday that for the type of refinery the company is building, the atmospheric tower is the primary unit processing crude oil into fuels. The company expects the refinery to start producing fuels in 2023.

It will likely take at least a month for the shipment to reach Lagos, this newspaper gathered Monday.

The 650,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery is set to be Africa’s largest, with potential to transform the country from an importer of fuel to a net exporter. The refinery is situated on a 6,180 acres (2,500 hectares) site at the Lekki Free Zone, Lekki, Lagos State.

In 2018, Nigeria’s billionaire Aliko Dangote, disclosed that he planned to complete the $12-14 billion refinery project in 2019, with additional plans to start production in early 2020.

Analysts have however suggested that the project would take longer in order to begin pumping out fuels such as diesel and gasoline. Reuters reported last year that the refinery was unlikely to start production until at least 2022, two years later than the target date.

“This is a major milestone, but there is still much work to be done, both in terms of sourcing the other units and in terms of interconnection at the site,” Mr Parker said of the atmospheric tower shipment.