Meet the Top 10 Oil Tycoons Fueling Nigeria

Nigeria’s Downstream Top 10


The primary drive for Nigeria’s economy has come from the country’s oil sector. The prosperity the nation has enjoyed from the oil and gas sector has happened because of huge investments that have been pumped and are still being pumped into the sector. Indigenous operators have since taken the lead in the growth of investments in the downstream sector, which has presently placed them largely in control of the business.

Up till the early 1970s, oil and gas activities – upstream and downstream, were fully in the hands of foreign companies. The records have changed dramatically since the introduction of the Independent Petroleum Products Marketing Programme in 1982. Several indigenous companies were then licensed to market petroleum products. The programme turned out to be a wakeup call to Nigerian entrepreneurs and the enthusiasm with which they responded has since been sustained and still pressing forward.

The result is quite impressive: Nigeria now commands the largest participation of local independents in the domestic oil and gas industry activities of all the petroleum producing countries in Africa. Defying the risk to life and money, a number of people have made the biggest stakes in various aspects of the oil and gas industry that have put these resources to the use of the nation.

According to Department of Petroleum Resources, independent marketers held 91% of retail outlets in 2014. Their storage capacity for PMS is more than two and half times that of major marketers; that of AGO is more than three times while DPK is close to four times bigger.  

In 2010, the Nigerian Content Development Act further accentuated the trend by providing the framework for enhancing the participation of indigenous companies across the value chain of the oil and gas industry. This has facilitated value creation and addition in the economy by indigenous players. Consequently, the downstream petroleum sector has seen some of the biggest stakes by indigenous entrepreneurs, who mobilised capital, technology and expertise into the business – effectively bridging the economic gap.

The downstream sector handles the final processing, storage, distribution and sales of petroleum products and thus completes the cycle of the oil & gas industry chain. It is a large sector covering refining of crude oil, processing of raw natural gas, as well as the marketing and distribution of products derived from crude oil and natural gas.

The downstream sector reaches consumers through products such as gasoline or petrol, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel oil, heating oil, fuel oils, lubricants, waxes, asphalt, natural gas, and liquefied petroleum gas as well as hundreds of petrochemicals.

Optimisation of industry value chain by indigenous operators has happened in the downstream and midstream through dominant ownership of storage facilities of petroleum products, dominant ownership of retail outlets and tremendous growth in gas supply to the domestic market since 2011. Other indicators include huge investments in gas transmission infrastructure and improving refining capacity.

Demand for petroleum products continues to grow exponentially in Nigeria’s large economy and investments in the downstream sector have continued to grow as well. New capacity building in refinery is a major source of new investment inflow into the sector and additional capacity requirement in LNG terminals is also drawing new investments into the sector.

The step government has taken to liberalise the downstream market is encouraging investments in refineries and other aspects of the downstream operations.  Despite the present challenges, indigenous operators are showing commitment to optimising the entire oil and gas industry value chains particularly in the midstream and downstream. It can be expected that the control they have firmly established downstream will soon be replicated in the midstream and upstream value chains.

The delightful reading that Nigeria has made out of downstream oil and gas sector is a testimony of how a great number of Nigerian businessmen and women have put their hands on deck in the downstream oil and gas sector towards value chain development in the Nigerian economy.

These eminent Nigerians have presented themselves a positive force towards the actualisation of the national aspiration of value chain optimisation through investment. The top 10 of this group identified in this study have indeed been made to stand as a tribute to all the big names in Nigeria’s downstream oil and gas sector.