Chief (Dr.) Bestman P. Anekwe, chairman of Nipco Plc, is the man steering the ship of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) towards realising the objective of indigenous participating in the white petroleum products business in Nigeria. Formerly known as IPMAN Petroleum Marketing Company Limited, Nipco was incorporated by IPMAN as a private company.
Nipco has recorded such a tremendous success in depot operation in the oil and gas downstream sector that spurred its entry into the other arms of the downstream business. It has built a large storage facility with direct access to the Apapa jetties.
The fully automated fuel terminal has the capacity to store 76.3 million litres of petroleum products. The large capacity was meant to address the incessant products supply shortages that usually disrupt the operations of the independent marketers. The facilities at the depot include the terminal, tank and truck loading farms, central control room and quality control devices. There are also power supply facilities, tankers’ parking area, fire fighting facilities among others.
Having been well grounded in depot operation, the company decided to take the business to the next level in 2007 when it ventured into retail marketing of fuels. Its objective is to replicate the success at the depot level also at the retail marketing end of the downstream market. It has the advantage of a very strong customer base majority and a captive market made up of IPMAN members.
That has enabled the company to acquire many strategic outlets in focused markets through a lease arrangement within a relatively short period of time. It is targeting to have a retail network of 250 stations across the country by the end the year 2017.
Nipco’s entry into the retail market will be significantly boosted by its acquisition of Exxon Mobil Oil Corporation’s 60% stake in Mobil Oil Nigeria through its wholly owned subsidiary – Nipco Investments Limited. With the deal, Mobil Oil has completely exited Nigeria’s downstream petroleum business after more than 100 years of operations in the country. Adding Mobil Oil’s 224 retail stations to its network, Nipco has become one of the largest retail network owners in Nigeria’s downstream market.
The deal permits Nipco to retain the Mobil branded fuel on its retail outlets as well as continue to blend and sell the Mobil brand of lubricants under Exxon Mobil Oil Corporation’s branding licence. Nipco’s managing director, Venkataraman Venkatapathy, considers the acquisition a major strategic move to support his company’s growth and expansion on the retail business frontier.
Another major accomplishment of Nipco is the introduction of compressed natural gas (CNG) as an environment friendly, economical and safe alternative automotive fuel in the country. The federal government approved the company’s CNG proposal in 2007, resulting in a joint venture agreement with Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) and the formation of Green Gas Limited (GGL) for the implementation of the CNG project in Benin City.
Since then, GGL has built over 55 kms of gas pipeline network in Benin City, three state-of-the-art CNG conversion workshops and nine CNG dispensing stations are operational. More than 4,000 CNG vehicles and a growing number of buses now run on CNG in Benin City and in and around Ibafo in Ogun State. CNG stations have been springing up along major highways – Benin-Lagos (at Ore, Onitea), Benin-Warri and Benin-Asaba.
GGL also supplies piped natural gas (PNG) to industrial & commercial units located in and around Benin City as natural gas is also the most preferred fuel for energy requirements for commercial and industrial uses.
Kit fitment workshops have also been set up, which are equipped with the necessary facilities required for converting petrol and diesel vehicles to CNG. Workshop technicians have been trained by the kit manufacturer to carry out pre-conversion checks, installation of the kit, tuning of vehicles on CNG and to provide post conversion service support.
Another major accomplishment in the gas sector is Nipco’s Liquefied Petroleum [LPG] storage and distribution terminal at Apapa, which was commissioned in 2009. It is a state of the art ultra-modern facility with a high level of automation and ranks among the biggest storage facilities in Nigeria, contributing to the increasing domestic consumption of LPG in the country.
In order to ensure a wide distribution of LPG, Nipco has commissioned a transport fleet of 25 LPG bulk tankers for this purpose. To the company, a tremendous patronage from plant owners across the nation is an indication of how beneficial the LPG project has been to the Nigerian public. The company is equally making a reasonable headway in enlightening the populace about the use of gas for household cooking, powering vehicles and machines.
Nipco deployed its 1st LPG skid at Abuja in 2010 and since then the number of LPG skids and gas plants have continued to grow. LPG skid is the latest technology in dispensing of gas and serves a dual purpose of re-filling cooking gas cylinders and vehicles with auto LPG. Citing LPG skids near to the market is Nipco’s strategy to see Nigeria become one of the largest consumers of LPG.