Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OVH Energy Marketing, a licensee of the Oando retail brand, Mr. Huub Stokman has called on players in the downstream sector to make improvements in customer experience, safety and operational standards if the full benefits of the downstream value chain are to be maximized.
Stokman made the call in his presentation at a recent petroleum summit in Abuja, with the title “Sustaining Industry Momentum on Downstream: what new strategies, tactics and innovative partnership”
According to Stokman, the challenges with the industry range from having multiple regulatory bodies to failure of corporate governance, title ownership verification, insecurity, environment pollution, vandalism, product supply disruption, unchanging trade margins, infrastructure deficit, skills and technology gap amongst others. Critical among these challenges according to Stokman is the gap that still exists in delivering customer experience and satisfaction.
In his words, “Despite being a mature customer facing industry, research indicates that the public doesn’t perceive most players as customer-centric. The downstream business is all about the customers; consistently providing them trusted petroleum products and services, whilst operating at the highest safety and operational standards. It is imperative therefore that player in this sector strive to meet customer needs through continuous technology driven investment and innovation”.
He continued “indeed, refining is a necessary catalyst for growth and for a much needed shift from import driven supply to self-sufficiency. However, if Nigeria wants to capture the full benefits of the downstream value chain after the enhanced refining capacity comes on-stream, the other downstream sectors need to use this short time window to make improvements in customer experience and safety and operational standards; driven by technology. This will only be possible through major investments which are not feasible at current margins”.
The OVH boss said the company is trying to make some fresh investments be it in retail, especially in those locations it believes that it makes sense to have a new retail site.
‘‘At the moment, we are closing in on our automation project which is crucial to our operations because it makes the depot to be more efficient in terms of turnaround time for trucks and reduction of loses.
We do believe that you need to keep on investing in order to make the business sustainable.
Again, l do believe that one day, this market will be deregulated and you need to be prepared for that. You need to be ready from the infrastructure point of view be it in midstream jetty, depot, transport or in retail. And you also need to be ready with your operations, especially in the aspect of depot safety, training and infrastructure.
In the midstream jetty, our footprints are equally feasible. We dredged our jetty up to 13 and half meters draft which by implication means we can accommodate bigger vessels. We equally did pigging on the lines. What does that mean? Pigging on the lines means we cannot only take petrol but can now take diesel and aviation fuel which are the three major products that the country needs, thereby relieving pressure in other jetties in Apapa, ensuring quicker turnaround time for vessels so that the country the country is energy secured. These were some of our investment interventions in the downstream space in 2019.
Speaking more to the automation of our jetty, once you take 60 vessels in a year, alongside multiple products, you need to automate your operations. And that was exactly what we did. Our operations are now partly automated and manual. But we would like to automate the whole process, simply for two reasons; health and safety and operation point of view so that we can work faster than we are doing currently.’’
He explained that as a company it bears responsibility for everyone’s safety not just for its staff but partners who include drivers and the general public by working with a transport company that has a track record for safety.
‘‘In this regard, we have done a couple of things. One of such is transport audit. Every transport company working with us is audited every year in terms of their efficiency, HSE, how they work their drivers, route management, state of truck fleet. If after all these audit processes, we discover that they fall below agreed operating standards, they stand the risk of losing the contract.
On the other hand, every year, we train all the truck drivers that are enlisted with us in conjunction with the Federal Road Safety Corps(FRSC) in defensive driving in order to make sure that they know how best to behave on the roads.
Also, we are working together with the Banks to renew our truck fleet because the average age of trucks in Nigeria is quite high so it is important that we start even with the small steps with the renewal of the fleet.
We are also putting onboard computers on the trucks so that we can easily track where the truck. Coupled with this, is the installation of speed limiters on our trucks to also make sure they don’t go above the advised speed.’’