Gabriel Ogbechie is group managing director/CEO, Rainoil Limited, an integrated downstream oil and gas company he founded in 1997. The courage and motivation to leave a paid job and venture into the oil and gas business without a readily available capital came from a one-truck diesel supply to an Ikeja-based company in 1996.
In about 25 years of operating in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, inclusive of about five years he put in at Ascon Oil as head of sales and operations unit, the University of Benin bred production engineer, has provided minute guidance of a master craftsman to his company.
Ogbechie’s leadership has seen Rainoil spring forth from very modest beginnings as a petroleum products marketing company with a single station to a large business entity with operations spread across Nigeria’s downstream value chain.
Ogbechie entered the oil and gas industry at a time of modest indigenous participation and therefore stands out as one of the pioneers of the rise of indigenous companies in the petroleum sector. He saw opportunities within the downstream oil and gas industry and stepped out to actualize them.
Start-up capital posed a big challenge but his habit of penny by penny savings and investing in equities built up the capital unnoticed, even to his own surprise. That little step by Ogbechie has unfolded into a giant move for the nation.
Rainoil has emerged a prominent player in the Nigerian oil and gas industry with operations spanning across the downstream value chain. These include petroleum product storage, haulage/distribution and retail sales. It deals primarily on premium motor spirit, diesel and dual purpose kerosene. The company has invested heavily in facilities and infrastructures that support its extensive downstream operations.
From a single retail station at the beginning, the company’s retail business has expanded to a network of 52 service stations spread across the country. It has presence in more than 13 major cities in the country.
Its bulk storage business is supported by two 50 million-litre capacity multi-product depots in Oghara, Delta State and Calabar Free Trade Zone in Cross River State. The petroleum products depots are run by a sister company – Fynefield Petroleum Company Limited.
The combined capacity of 100 million litres of products storage facilities enables Rainoil to supply petroleum products to its large customer base of retailers. It serves retailers from the east north and south-south regions of the country.
Products supply operation happens through the company’s logistics arm that boasts a fleet of over 80 tank trucks. The company continues to enhance its fleet to ensure efficient delivery of products to its stations and customers across the country.
Rainoil also has a large capacity for marine services, which are provided through its subsidiary company – Gobel Marine Services Limited. The company was incorporated in 2011 and has been providing marine and shipping services since 2013.
It maintains a fleet of five shipping vessels with a total carrying capacity of over 117,000 metric tonnes of petroleum products. In addition to freight services, Gobel Marine Services also provides agency services for shipping companies and other principals.
Ogbechie has succeeded in positioning Rainoil to realise his vision of building a leading energy products and services company. He is keen to ensure the company runs on core values that are built around customer satisfaction, integrity, teamwork, competitive edge and safety.
The success strategy for the Rainoil boss is that he knew what he wanted to do; he stepped out early to do it and he was focused. He entered into business and marriage early in life and both shaped him up in taking responsibility. Ogbechie also speaks much about the need for financial discipline without which he said no one can successfully run a business.
Ogbechie is open minded about management succession in Rainoil, which he said is not built to run on his family’s line. “We run a company that is not dependent on Gabriel Ogbechie or his children, anybody can come in as a management trainee and years down the line, aspire to become managing director”, he told Thisday Newspaper in 2016.
He insists that it is better that shareholders get regular dividends than securing the management seat for the children of the founders. “They can own the business but not necessarily run it,” he said.