OTL Provides Opportunity to Forge New Partnerships, Showcase Brands, Align Operations to Suit Emerging Industry Trends – Oyebanji
By Ndubuisi Micheal Obineme
“This year’s event welcomes a strong presence of the industry, understandably so in these blended times of great flux, uncertainty and opportunity. As we are all aware, the ongoing conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East continue to transmit volatility in the near term, while in the medium to long view, energy transition has challenged markets and forced operators to innovate.”
These were the words of Mr. Adetunji Oyebanji, Chairman of Advisory Board of 17th Oil Trading and Logistics (OTL) Africa Downstream Energy Week during the opening ceremony of the ongoing event in Lagos.
Closer home, policy and political changes remain a factor, with market players keen for clarity for their operations. These factors have combined to make OTL 2023 very important, as we look forward to robust engagements.”
Oyebanji pointed out that over the years, the OTL Africa Downstream Week has set agenda for petroleum business, policy and competition. Driven by industry and government, OTL Africa Downstream has created a rare platform to come together as an industry to review operations, practices, procedures, policies and laws.
This gathering gives us the opportunity to gain new insights, forge new partnerships, showcase brands, products and services and align operations to suit emerging industry dynamics.
“In doing this over the last seventeen years, we have witnessed a quantum shift in the profile of operators in the downstream petroleum industry towards a place of increased relevance, visibility, organisation and strategic positioning. For this, we are very proud of our role and that of the supporting industry movement occasioned thereby.”
“Personally, this is my second year as Chairman of the OTL Advisory Board, where I have had the pleasure of working with a group of highly eminent, impactful and long-standing industry professionals with extensive experience and deep industry knowledge. Our goal as a board is through OTL, to achieve strong partnerships across the value chain of downstream energy. We are focused on this, realizing that together, we can move mountains.”
Oyebanji noted that operators are encouraged by the fact despite strong industry headwinds over the years, OTL has remained creative, bullish and consistent in leading advocacy for the industry and maintaining a strong platform for individuals, brands and the organisations to promote business, policy and operations.
According to the OTL Chairman, this has attracted new collaborations, more strategic engagement and a wider acceptance of the OTL brand as the centrepiece and melting pot for all things downstream, positioning it for the long-term future.
The Downstream Market
Global economic challenges have fuelled renewed urgency to diversify operations in order to maximize the sector’s potential. This renewed consciousness has resulted in significant investment in key elements of the value chain, indicating a paradigm shift that emphasizes technological evolution, capacity development, supply chain efficiency and value addition.
From rig to ship to depot to truck to the last mile, there is no shortage of effort by the industry. However, policy development and implementation need to keep pace with the urgency of industry needs and the appetite of market operators. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that there is huge potential.
While the market is hopeful and actively positioning for the future, the reality remains that things have been tough for many, albeit with a silver lining – a quest for reduced costs and increased efficiency, a tilt to innovation and an inevitable recourse to technology. With lost earnings potentially replaced by increased savings and efficiencies, the canvass before us remains one of great opportunities, Oyebanji added.
The OTL Chairman said it is important that everything is done to harness these opportunities. Though global energy palate is becoming increasingly discriminatory in favour of efficiency and negative emissions, it is notable that this is happening at a time that global hydrocarbon reserves are expanding. Multiple countries on the continent have become oil-producing, while major investments in petroleum refining are nearing completion. But the transition to alternative energy seems inexorable, adding to a mix of circumstances of interest for us as a continent.
“Despite the variables, the man, woman, boy or girl at the last mile often does not understand or even care about them; they are just interested in the simple things of life – to keep engines running, vehicles moving, cookers burning and their lights on.”
Adetunji explained that it is in the interplay of these contradictions and complementarities that locate the theme for this year – Energy, Synergy and New Beginnings. “We must work together to achieve the traction and firepower to propel the engine of our industry in taking off again.
In Nigeria, our vocal advocacy over the years yielded fruit in the deregulation policy announced by government. But announcement must morph into form, defined by competition, peer review, consumer value and overall market growth.
This has to be on the back of data, intelligence and strategy, key elements which we can harness collectively at OTL to deepen downstream business and policy.”
Governments at the highest levels can never be too busy to engage with industry and must prioritise opportunities for optimal promotion of harmony between policy and operations.
Oyebanji appreciated the seriousness of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has attached to the event, designating it as a key platform for its engagement with the industry, not just through the OTL Downstream Energy Week, but also in achieving market harmony, fostering competition and facilitating dispute resolution.
At this event last year, the Authority Chief Executive emphasized the importance of OTL reflecting convergence across energy options. Though that imperative was never lost on us, further to that call, we have fast-tracked efforts in that regard, reflected in the sessions we have this year and the event name which is now more accommodating of other energy sources.
Oyebanji explained to delegates that in line with strong interest this year, the sessions touch on the critical areas which define downstream energy operations, policy and support services. “In the course of the next four days, we will have eleven diverse sessions that target the most important concerns of our businesses. We have also put together an exhibition which celebrates the essence of why we all set up for business – pitching and selling our goods and services.”
According to him the two exhibition halls in the conference are bustling with options and delegates and participants are encourage to visit the stands and engage with the range of products and services on offer.
Many exhibitors have converged in Lagos from around the world and are all encouraged to interact robustly and responsibly.
Most importantly, delegates and participants should take advantage of the opportunities offered by collection of diverse industry operators over the next four days to improve their businesses and strengthen the industry.
The OTL Chairman thanked sponsors of this year event, who have demonstrated firm confidence in the OTL brand, in the knowledge of not just the vision it has for downstream energy, but the value they stand to derive.