The commencement of full deregulation of the downstream sector by the Federal Government, and the ongoing construction of Africa’s biggest oil refining facility, Dangote Refinery, underscores the need for a national approach to attract needed investment in the downstream sector.
It is said that, upon completion, the refinery will have the capacity to process about 650,000 barrels per day of crude oil, making it the largest single-train refinery in the world. It will put Nigeria in the spotlight for crude oil refining, competing with world refining superpowers in countries such as the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia. Recently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced that it plans to acquire a 20% minority equity stake in the facility. On one hand, this is aimed at ensuring an undisrupted supply of petroleum products across the country when the transaction is concluded, and on the other hand, the locally refined petroleum products will not only serve the Nigerian market (thus reducing the forex expended on importation of these products) but will also serve international markets, earning more forex for the nation.
While these investments are key in driving growth, there is need for a reliable petroleum product importation data and people-focused service, which hitherto, has been non-existent due to the nature of petroleum product operations mechanisms applicable in Nigeria. The current trend has largely contributed to creating an atmosphere of mistrust between the citizens and operators in the downstream sector.
Nigeria’s economy has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With a lowering GDP, forex crunch, rising inflation rates, and cost of major food items, it is critical to adopt measures to cushion the effects of deregulation and other macroeconomic pressures on the masses. More importantly also, to rebuild the trust and gain the support of the common Nigerian on the ongoing transformation in the downstream sector.
Speaking at the 12th Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) International Conference which was held in Lagos in February this year, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said that the government’s goal is to move to a cleaner, more available, accessible, acceptable and affordable energy use. According to the Minister, this was to foster the sustainability of the Nigerian economy, enhance energy availability, create well-paid jobs, and take millions of Nigerians out of poverty. This is in line with the vision behind the recent acquisition and subsequent rebranding of Ascon Oil Company (the first private bulk white Petroleum products storage, sales, and distribution channel) into Quest Oil& Engineering Services Ltd. One of the foremost indigenous energy solutions providers in Nigeria, the company which recently opened an ultra-modern retail service station at Iju, Agege in Lagos State, says that its promise to provide trusted retail services to Nigerians symbolizes its reinvigorated strategy for the Nigerian petroleum retail market.
Quest, through its acquisition of Ascon Oil Company in 2019 has expanded its midstream and downstream footprints across Nigeria with extensive investment in oil and gas infrastructure. The Company currently owns over 35 retail stations across the country, a combined storage capacity of 35 million liters of petroleum products and 50 million liters storage capacity at Oghara terminals for refined petroleum products, a tanker vessel, Aviation terminals in Lagos and Abuja. The real aim behind this growth drive is to avail Nigerians the opportunity to access top-quality fuel products at the right quantity and the right price.
Quest’s value proposition of Trust hinges on her promise of abiding by the core values of Quality, Uniqueness, Excellence, and Service.
According to Benjamin Goke Dele, Group Chief Executive Officer,‘For the downstream sector to thrive, the people must come first. Nigerians have contributed so much towards the development of our economy, hence, they deserve value for their money. This is why we are making it our goal to ensure that every drop of fuel, diesel, or lubricant customers purchase at our service stations across Nigeria,are not just the best quality, but also the most accurate meter gauge.
Downstream operations take place in highly populated areas, as such, safety is of paramount value towards reducing the dangers posed by oil and gas operations. Quest Oil Group has scored another first in this regard. In addition to implementing an Integrated Management System (HSEQ) that is in line with ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, and ISO 45001:2018 Management Systems, Employees undergo regular BOSIET, HUET, and OSHA training to remain conversant with the latest technologies and HSEQ measures.
Speaking at the recent commissioning of a Quest service station at Iju, Agege, the Director-General /CEO of Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr.LanreMojola encouraged Quest to remain compliant to international best practices with regards to Occupational Health & Safety. Mr. Mojola’s comments resonate with the company’s goal of sustaining its zero-fatality track record over the years.
Quest Oil Group has plans to provide alternative sources of fuel to its customers as it plans to deploy autogas infrastructures across its service stations strategically located across the country. This is not only a giant stride, but further gives credence to the company’s commitment and investment in innovative clean energy technology in the downstream sector. This, the company believes, will lead to employment generation, and the creation of cleaner fuel sources which will reduce the cost of energy for Nigerians.
‘After deregulation, the next big thing that has happened to the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry is the Nigerian Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) and the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)’, remarked Taiwo Dele, the Chief Operating Officer, Gas & Power, an affiliate of Quest Oil Group.
According to him, the move will create a level playing field for investors and catalyze the development of Nigeria’s vast gas resources which as of today, stands at 206.53 trillion cubic feet according to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR)’. He further said that Nigeria is at a crossroad, and gas-to-power and other cleaner energy solutions seem to be the way forward towards achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the country in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7’.
In his own words, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Goke Dele said ‘renewable energy is environmentally friendly, it reduces carbon footprints, and in a distributed form, it reduces operational cost, improves power reliability and leads to lower overall operational cost. In a few years, we intend to migrate our customers who have fossil fuel-powered assets to renewable by providing a wider range of distributed energy solutions. This would involve a mix of renewable, solar, turbines, wind, and energy storage systems to provide lean and low-cost energy solutions.
Following the ongoing developments in the Oil and Gas Industry, it is common sense to know that whatever you take away without replenishing will eventually diminish. The first thing is to know what your stakeholders need and have a system in place that is nimble enough to adjust to changes.
Innovation is the only way forward in this industry, and that is what we latch oursuccess to’’ he said.As part of the Light Up Lagos Project, Quest has engaged in a partnership with Lagos State Government to light up one of the largest local governments in Nigeria, maintaining over 1,000 street poles with street lights.
These investments are critical in revitalizing the Nigerian economy and more importantly, show that President Muhammadu Buhari’s current transformation agenda in the Energy, Oil, and Gas industry is already yielding fruits. At a time when the country is going through major economic challenges occasioned by the current COVID-19 crisis, fluctuation in the price of crude oil, insecurity, and low investment, this would not only enhance growth but boost investors’ and customer’s confidence in the downstream sector.
The above is in alignment with the four cardinal focus of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) which is aimed at enabling business and creating opportunities in the downstream sector.
The four focus areas include quality for product assurance and customer satisfaction; quantity for transparency, value for money and consumer protection; safety for personnel and assets and public safety as well as Integrity for investment protection and business continuity. From a regulatory point of view, the achievement of these milestones will depend on a sustainable partnership with stakeholders to enable value creation for investors and the government. Attainment of this goal will enhance DPR’s efforts towards upgrading the downstream of the petroleum industry to the global standard, hence, underscores the need for sustained collaboration among the various stakeholder groups. It is, therefore, a wake-up call for other arms of the government and stakeholders, including security agencies, operators, Civil Society Groups, and the general public, to braceup to the challenge of ensuring accountability, continued protection of lives and properties, and sustainability of the current growth trajectory.