By Yemisi Izuora
Nigeria is gradually and sustainably deploying critical infrastructures to facilitate distribution of petroleum products which had been largely hindered by inadequate conveyor channels.
Most ridiculous is insufficient and exiguous petroleum products reception facilities which at the peak of scarcity exacerbated and profoundly compounded efforts in extracting imported volumes for inland distribution thus aggravating already tense vehicular queues commonly found around major Nigerian cities.
Determined to resolve this teething mortifying and ignominious situation, Pinnacle Oil and Gas, conceived the initiative to provide the nation with an asset that can seamlessly transport imported petroleum products brought in by large vessels that is deterred from birthing in the country’s shallow waters.
Before deployment of this asset, a typical mother vessel arriving the Nigerian shores with about 120 million litres of petroleum product, is cannot discharge efficiently because it is too large to berth at any of the terminals in Nigeria at that time, and would need to be lightered (through ship to ship transfers) into 15 million to 20 million litre parcels, in vessels small enough to berth at the available terminals in locations like Apapa, Kirikiri, Ijegun, Warri, Calabar etc.
This lightering process besides being quite expensive, tends to result in out-turn losses, and causes the Mother vessel to loiter for sometimes up to 30 days leading to high demurrage charges to the industry as a whole.
According to Dr. Peter Mbah, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Pinnacle Oil and Gas, Besides these market facing issues, these inefficiencies have resulted in significant negative impact on the Nigerian economy as it has resulted in a high final cost per litre of the products at the pump, thus increasing the size of under-recoveries borne by the Federation.
The industry structure resulting from this operating model has also resulted in the congestion of the Apapa area with significant negative social impacts on the area, leading to high volumes of traffic on all approaches into Apapa, with well-known effects on business, life and health of residents along the routes, said Mbah.
Interestingly, in deciding to take on the challenge of transforming the industry, Pinnacle was driven by its mantra of being a Company driven by innovation and has always believed that the role of business in community is to always seek ways to make things better for the community.
Creating World Class Infrastructure
In line with this, in 2011, the company started working on a concept to solve this problem, which has resulted in the ultra-modern facility and to ensure the high quality of the resulting solution, the firm used some of the World’s best vendors from home and abroad in the design and delivery of the project. Three of these include TLD Engineering Services Limited, Orwell Offshore and Brightwater Energy Services Limited.
Expectedly, the resulting facility is a world class petroleum terminal with the capacity to handle products in two directions both import and export.
Thus Mother Vessels arriving the facility will have the opportunity to berth at either of our two offshore berths. Either the CBM, which is in 17 meters of water depth and can handle vessels of up to 120 million litres, or its SPM, which is in about 23 meters of water depth and can handle vessel sizes of up to 200 million litres.
These moorings are connected to the company’s storage facilities by four networked pipelines of 40k meters total length. These pipe networks are designed to empty the vessels in a maximum 2 days, a significant improvement on the previous duration which could take up to 30 days.
The company’s shore tank farm is currently able to handle up to 300 million litres of Premium Moteor Spirit, PMS also called Petrol and Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, called Diesel, and the facility is designed to permit rapid discharge into trucks for evacuation at a rate of up to 20 million litres per day.
In addition to this, the terminal is supported by the World class services of the Lekki Free Zone Development Company in area of services like power supply, truck traffic management etc., also its location enables easy access and egress allowing trucks from our terminal to service the rest of the Country without any need to traverse the Lagos metropolis.
In the future, the company sees bright prospects for this Terminal,and has already commenced the expansion of the size of the storage in 2 stages to the final designed capacity of 1 billion litres, and diversify our product range to include the capacity to store other products like LPG, ATK and other classes of Kerosene.
Mbah said, “We will also be incorporating the capability to blend products to produce various specifications of products to service other international markets. We are already in advanced conversations with the Dangote group regarding collaborations to complement the operations of the nearby Dangote refinery which is soon to come on stream, with a view to forming the nucleus of what we believe will become Africa’s largest energy logistics hub.”
Pinnacle, sees this as this God’s divine inspiration, as well as patience and perseverance which carried it through the over 10 challenging years it took to deliver this project.
Overcoming Financial And Regulatory Challenges
The project as usual went through teething regulatory due diligence but however received adequate support from the Federal Government and its agencies throughout the rigorous licensing processes involving the issuance of over 30 licenses culminating in the approval of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
Significant assistance and collaboration from Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPCL which not only provided support through the process but wasted no time in signing a far reaching contract of service with to utilise the facility
Continued support from regulators such as NMDPRA, NIMASA, NPA, NEPZA, Ministry of Environment etc. during the pre and post construction stage culminating in execution and commissioning of the project.
High levels of responsiveness from the various relevant law enforcement agencies like the Customs, Nigerian Navy, Police and DSS further facilitated the project.
Unparalleled support and collaboration from the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was unrelenting in his encouragement of the project through numerous visits and swift responses to its frequent requests, as well as the Chairman of the LFZDC Mr. Biodun Dabiri whose support extended to accompanying the company to various locations including Dubai and Netherlands to canvass investments from prospective business partners. This strong support from these the hosts were complemented by the sustained backing received from the managements of the Lekki Worldwide investment Limited and Lekki Free Zone Development Company through out the duration of the construction.
High levels of hospitality and accommodation from host communities all along its rights of way from the waterfront to the shore facility within the Zone was overwhelming.
First bank’s intervention made a monumental impact in realizing the gigantic project.
The firm clearly identified the central commitment of the bank and its finical commitment supporting other like Fidelity bank Plc, who helped to derisk the investment flow, Globus bank and Coronation.
First bank interestingly and directly funded the project with its debt capital.
Mr Gbenga Shobo, the Deputy Managing Director, DMD, of FirstBank was elated to see the completion of the project.
Commenting, Shobo said, Indeed, we are truly delighted to be part of the success story of the Pinnacle Terminal project. It is a success with positive economic impacts. The Pinnacle Terminal project will transform sub-regional products storage and handling and would be the largest storage facility in Africa.
The DMD, believing in the strength of the bank, confidently added that First Bank has the capacity to finance highly capital-intensive projects such as the Pinnacle Terminal project, adding, “We have clearly defined criteria and processes that guide the Bank’s decisions to undertake the financing of projects. This includes relying on our risk management architecture. Our risk management architecture is constantly retooled and strengthened, and this has been demonstrated in the consistent record performance in line with industry standards. So, we followed our standard credit risk management processes and reviews which includes ensuring that the request met our credit risk appetite to get the facility approved.”
According to him, FirstBank is deliberate about putting in place standard processes and policies which are key enablers of performance and in line with the bank’s nation-building strategic goal, it has expanded intentional footprint with regards to client relationship and partnership.
Oriental News Nigeri reports that the bank’s relationship with Pinnacle Oil and Gas started over 10 years ago with the financing of the customers Depot at Warri. The company has proven over the years that they have the capacity to handle large facilities and great reputation to boot.
On the impact of the project, Shobo, state’s that given that Africa ports in most cases lack essential infrastructure and do not perform optimally as well as do not always match global trends and standards, the new terminal will help close some of the gaps.
It will facilitate the berthing of large delivery vessels which are more efficient for shipping products, but hitherto could not berth in Nigeria and will also reduce discharge time, which will result in lower landed prices for petroleum products.
He listed other benefits to include the eradication of delivery losses which would typically occur during the ship-to-ship transfers which are necessary in the delivery model in use today; the facilitation of efficient storage of large volumes and one can say with all modesty would be considered the largest storage facility in Africa.
As one of the major gateways to the global marke-t place, maritime transport is an essential component in facilitating trade and good terminals which are essential aspects of ports contribute to the resourcefulness of ports and by implication key to reducing trade costs, including transport costs, connecting supply chains and supporting global trade. Consequently, this enhances trade competitiveness of countries, he said.
Elated President Muhammadu Buhari, who in Lagos on Saturday commissioned the project proudly encouraged more investors to take advantage of governments various gas initiatives and invest in the nation’s oil and gas industry,saying it offers robust prospects for them.
Buhari,who spoke at the commissioning of the $1 billion Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited’s Lekki Free Trade Zone Terminal, said his administration through the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law and robust regulatory regime have created the enabling environment for investment in the hydrocarbon industry to thrive.
He also emphasized the commitment of his administration to the promotion of energy security and bridging infrastructure gaps in the oil and gas industry.
Commending Pinnacle Oil and Gas for the investment,Buhari said the company has been to key into and benefit from his administration’s initiatives to provide new lease of life for investors’ in the country’s oil and gas sector.
Buhari expressed optimism that the company’s new terminal will open the country’s economy through value addition to the Gross Domestic Product and creation of jobs for Nigerians.
Also speaking, Lagos state governor,Babajide Sanwo Olu, described the launch of Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited’s terminal as an audacious strategy to revolutionize the country’s downstream oil and gas industry.
He told guests at occasion that with the launch of the facility,large vessels can now berry at the terminal within shorter time,just as he expressed that that it would create opportunity for the export of product West African region.
He also described the company as the state’s biggest customer hub,adding that the birth of the terminal will decongest Apapa terminal and entrench energy security in the land.
He said:”Ithink Peter deserves another round of applause. free trade zone which is the LEKI free zone is the most active and vibrant free zone we have in the country. And it comes with a lot of history. It comes with a lot of vision that has been put together by one of my predecessor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, way back like the representative of custom say, way back in 2006.We can begin to see that the implementation of soft vision with successive government also pushing in and raising the bar is why we’re here today seated comfortably and to commission, this edifice.
I’m told that this petroleum products terminal has been designed to make possible the direct transfer of products from large vessel to the conventional boy mooring CBM. And the single point mooring SPM facility. There is no need for smaller ships to be deployed to transfer products to and from larger vessels which was ofte very necessitated at many other parting locations, which I’m told can take as long as 30 to 45 days.
He invited other investors into the Lekki Free Trade Zone adding that his administration is creating the needed environment to made the zone friendly for investment in the country
Also speaking,Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian National. Petroleum Limited,Mallam Mele Kyari,said Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited’s terminal is the largest exit point for petroleum products in Nigeria currently and has clearly demonstrated capacity by easing delivery of petroleum products into account in many parts of the country.
He said:”We will always remember that the exit point that will work for us in recent times, is the Pinnacle facility. I congratulate you Peter for great work done and for us at NNPCL, we will continue to partner with you and other stakeholders,other investors in this space as we continue to provide energy security for our country, which is very critical for all of us.
“All this wouldn’t have happened except there is an enabling environment. That enabling environment was surely created by Mr. President in the last seven years by allowing regulation to work, by allowing investors to have access to financing, supporting them in every way, and also bringing a framework which culminated in the Petroleum Industry Act coming in place to make sure that business works in the energy sector”
Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, who indeed represent Buhari, said, “Without mincing words, this is the largest exit point for petroleum products that we have today and it has clearly demonstrated capacity by easing delivery of petroleum products into account in many parts of the country and whenever we are in difficult situation. We will always remember that the exit point that will work for us in recent times, is the Pinnacle facility. I congratulate you Peter for great work done and for us at NNPCL, we will continue to partner with you and other stakeholders,other investors in this space as we continue to provide energy security for our country, which is very critical for all of us.”
Kyari noted that this wouldn’t have happened except there is an enabling environment which was surely created by Mr. President in the last seven years by allowing regulation to work, by allowing investors to have access to financing, supporting them in every way, and also bringing a framework which culminated in the Petroleum Industry Act coming in place to make sure that business works in the energy sector.
Continuing he said, “I am sure that many of the partners here will take advantage of this opportunity and we are profoundly grateful to Mr. President for allowing this to happen. And for us in NNPC, we see great opportunity unfolding, particularly for Lagos.
“Our populations are growing. The middle class class is growing, energy requirements are growing substantially, despite all the conversations around energy transition that you hear, clearly what is happening today is a massive growth in our economy and that requires energy. You can’t work without energy and I know that facilities like these will become very primary in the journey towards energy sufficiency and security. ”
He said there is no doubt that Lagos is the number one beneficiary which is also the largest consumer of petroleum product and that any disruption to supply Lagos there is always great panic because Lagos is the biggest customer base.
He also stated that expansion is very necessary but the reality today is that the largest concentration of downstream facilities are in Lagos and we trust and rely on Lagos to have energy security in the coming years.
“As we continue to also diversify in the best interests of Lagos also, because of the associated issues that brings which hopefully also this Pinnacle facility has helped resolved, I am speaking about the congestion in Ijegun, Apapa and other locations, this is now going to be a thing of the past.” he said.