Oil Trading and Logistics Africa (Downstream) is a Pan-African initiative dedicated to promotion of business, policy and stakeholder relationships in downstream petroleum markets across the continent. It achieves its goals through strategic government and business liaison, research and advocacy.
Its flagship platform, the annual OTL Africa Downstream Week is the continent’s leading business forum for market insights, emerging opportunities, products’ showcase and recognition of excellence in the African downstream petroleum value-chain. It features the participation of operators in the entire downstream oil and gas value chain including refining, trading, shipping, marketing, storage, retail, infrastructure, professional services, equipment supply and government.
The 17th edition themed: “Energy, Synergy and New Beginnings held in Lagos Nigeria from the 23rd to 26th October 2023 at the Lagos Oriental Hotel. Given that it was the first OTL to be held after the full, albeit stillborn deregulation of petroleum products pricing and inauguration of the current administration in Nigeria, it was always poised to attract increased interest.
Coupled with the foregoing, we deliberately worked towards aggregating the crosssection of the downstream and midstream petroleum value chain under a big-tent event to begin to strategically curate industry offerings and operations, knowing that positive competition is key to long-term sustainability of the industry.
We put together a Planning Committee that included the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Gas Association, Nigerian Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association, Petroleum Retailer Owners Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, Women in Energy Network, Women in Oil and Gas and a range of others.
We particularly commend the hands-on commitment of the NMDPRA in this journey.
Apart from being sponsors of the event, they took a central role in the planning and organization. The full presence of the Authority’s leadership through the four days of the event evidenced a clear understanding of the importance of stakeholder consultation as part of the regulatory mandate. The message of the Authority resonates clearly in the words of the Authority Chief Executive, Engr. Farouk Ahmed: “We need to work together and sanitise the industry; to do that, we need a capable, willing and bold regulator to make decisions, and, for you industry players, to be humble enough to accept the decisions for the improvement and progress of the industry, and it is a win-win situation for us all.”
We particularly appreciate the seriousness the Authority has attached to this event, designating it as a key platform for its engagement with the industry, not just through the OTL Downstream Energy Week, but also in achieving market harmony, fostering competition and facilitating dispute resolution.
The industry has equally been very keen, signposted by no less a group than our strategic partner for today’s event, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria. We commend its leadership, and specially its CEO Mr. Clemet Isong who I must say, has been a breath of fresh air for the industry, and such a pleasure to work with. With his team, we see the value of collaborations for the industry and a bright future for the wider industry.
In the result, no section of downstream or midstream petroleum operations was unrepresented, with total footfall at the event over the duration of the event in excess of one thousand two hundred delegates, exhibitors, visitors and speakers. OTL has been firmly established as the principal facilitator and aggregator for downstream petroleum operations certainly in Nigeria. It is the only platform, within or outside government that has successfully brought together operators in the diverse economic subsectors that converge under the value-chain for downstream petroleum. We are happy about that and urge the industry to take advantage of that in deepening collaboration and value delivery.
It is noteworthy that while OTL through its conference beams attention on the issues of importance to the industry, OTL Africa Downstream Energy Week is not all about the conference. It is about trade, innovation, products showcase and networking. Many things are happening in the industry that are of interest, and from next year, we will deliberately invite industry operators to use the OTL platform to make announcements of significance, sign partnerships and close transformational deals.
In the course of the OTL Downstream Energy Week, industry stakeholders deliberated on the following topics:
- Effective Petroleum Industry Regulation for Sustainable Development
- Towards the Gas Development Targets: Stimulating the Economy through
- The Strategic Role of HR in driving organizational growth and developing sustainable talent: A female perspective
- Africa Fuels’ Update: Overview of Trends and Markets Developments
- Petroleum Depots and Retail Operations: Optimizing Value in Dynamic Markets
- Women’s entrepreneurial journey in the African oil and gas industry
- Africa Refining: Regional Suffiency amid Global Energy Transition
- Innovative Solutions and Approaches to Resolving Lingering Security and Safety
Issues in the Oil and Gas Industry
- Integrated Downstream Petroleum Operations: Law, Realities and Compliance
- LPG & CNG: Market Trends and Update
- Renewables, Rigs and the Road to Retail: New directions for Last Mile Energy
After four (4) days of robust deliberations, the industry stakeholders agreed on the following:
- Technological innovations are required in the quest for reduced costs and increased efficiency in the downstream energy market.
- Governments at the highest levels must always be willing engage with industry and must prioritise opportunities for optimal promotion of harmony between policy and operations.
- Downstream energy stakeholders embrace the spirit of synergy. The industry is no longer confined to traditional boundaries; it is about collaboration, innovation, and adaptability.
- Nigerian downstream energy operators must work with the government to expand trunk and distribution gas pipelines across the country; the supply and distribution of refining capacity expansion; supportive regulations; renewable energy integration; and workforce development are key areas that require attention.
- The downstream sector’s ability to adapt and embrace clean energy alternatives will be a determining factor in Nigeria’s energy transition success.
- The reduction of harmful emissions is one of the biggest concerns of the federal government and NMDPRA, but the regulator needs to work with all stakeholders to address this menace in line with global regulations.
- There is a potential conflict between the bio-fuel industry and National food security. These two competing demands are clearly balanced in the National Energy Policy as approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2017 and the National Biofuels Policy gazette in 2007, which will guide the smooth introduction of biofuels into energy mix.
- The NMDPRA is commended for its engagement with stakeholders and encouraged to do even more towards moving the midstream and downstream sector into a clean-fuel network that enables decarbonization across the value chain while meeting the critical energy needs of affordability, safety and reliability.
- Success in reducing emissions will depend on the efficacy of a policy environment that uses market forces to enable low Green House Gases (GHG) innovation and deployment with accurate and cost- effective emissions measurement, verification, and reporting.
- To attain incident/ accidents free operations in the downstream sector, the health of workers and safety of workplace must be prioritized.
- Compliance isn’t static. Regulations evolve, technology advances, and best practices change. Industry stakeholders should commit to continuous improvement, adopting latest technologies and practices towards a sustainable midstream and downstream sector.
- The federal government has to find a way to incentivize the production of gas for the sector to thrive with production based incentives.
- While tax rebates will be required to incentivize gas production, skills development is another aspect of the sector that must be taken very seriously.
- There is a need to have succession planning by grooming the next crop of young professionals to take over the oil and gas sector.
- Oil and gas industry is high risk and it is also incendiary, so there is a need for regulations that are clear and implementable, not regulations that stifle the industry.
- In line with the 2023 OTL theme focused on synergy, there is a need for collaborations across the value chain in the downstream sector as better collaborations across the value chain will lead to more efficiency and better services.
- To inspire this banks’ confidence in financing investments in Nigerian gas market, there is a need to build trust via good policies and an enabling business environment.
- Japa Syndrome: Companies have to find a way to listen to the silence of workers. Learn from their countenance and make conscious efforts to figure out what is going on in their minds.
- Operators must deepen mentorship and leadership development processes to equip downstream workers with requisite skills and job satisfaction.
- Everyone at leadership level of energy organizations should be involved in the fight against women discrimination and speak out to correct the problematic issue.
- With over 1.4billion cars in the world; converting them to electricity, solar or gas would take a very long time. The oil market and pricing issues in Africa have to be addressed.
- More transparency is needed in the Nigerian oil sector. Although Dangote refinery has the potential to make the nation a hub in oil refining, the nation must realize that transparency in pricing is key.
- The existing downstream infrastructure must be improved to cater to the expected enormous activities with the emergence of Dangote refinery and ongoing reforms at NIMASA.
- Regional collaboration between navies and maritime administrations must be maintained for peace in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) maritime region.
- The judiciary and other stakeholders involved in the prosecution of seized vessels must expedite the process of prosecution.
- Community policing and sensitization must be enhanced to curb pipeline vandalism. This is essential because such criminal activities occur in terrains that aren’t motorable.
- Federal government should create funds for the establishment of small modular refineries as part of efforts to boost economic activities and create employment opportunities in oil producing communities.
- Nigeria security agencies will be equipped to do more in securing the nation’s oil and gas assets with more resources and personnel.
- Financial support will be needed to jumpstart the gas market at its early stages.
As soon as the market stabilizes, government financial support is less required.
- For safe operations in the gas market, Cylinder Recirculation Model is required to reintroduce new cylinders and ensure the removal of expired and unsafe cylinders in the homes of citizens.
- Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) would suffer immediate defeat if emigration of skilled resources needed to grow. African countries need to develop policies that support migration without negative consequences.
This Communiqué was presented by Dr. Emeka Akabogu, Vice President, OTL 2023 at Post-conference Media Briefing.