Expert Proffers Solution to Petroleum Downstream Sector’s Challenges

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Ndubuisi Ekekwe,

Peter Uzoho

The Founder and Chairman of Fasmicro Group, Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe, has said Nigeria needs to leverage the opportunities offered by big data to fix perennial lapses in the downstream sector of its oil and gas industry.

Ekekwe, also harped on the need to create an opportunity for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to thrive in the sub-sector.

He noted that even in the age of digital technology, Nigeria was still grappling with the problem of having petroleum products siphoned on transit, due to inability to digitally monitor the movement of products from the depot to a designated location.

Ekekwe stated this yesterday in Lagos at a panel session at the just ended annual international conference and exhibition organised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Nigeria Council, with the theme: “Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Mobile Technology: Changing the Future of Energy Industry.”

The panel specifically discussed the topic: Transforming Big Data and Technology to Business Value: Challenges and Opportunities.”

The professor, who said what the government does currently, is to track the movement of petroleum products from depot without knowing if it actually gets to the final destination, described that as a paralysis that must be fixed using big data.

He said: “So, let me go down to the downstream sector in Nigeria. We are still in the ecosystem where somebody loads a truck of gasoline from a depot in Lagos going to the northern part of Nigeria, now siphons that to Togo or one of the neighbouring countries to Nigeria.

“What largely the government does is to track a truck going to northern part of Nigeria while the gasoline has already been sent to Togo.

“The exit truck will actually get to Kaduna or Bauchi but the gasoline is actually being used in Togo. This is a paralysis. It is a paralysis because they have not utilised a very critical tool that is not just running entities, but also transforming entities.

“Information Technology is used to run companies, but big data is going to be used to transform companies, and until you can transform entities through efficiency in understanding what is happening in those entities, you cannot improve them.

“So, imagine if you put IoT sensors that those trucks can monitor the liquid contents as they are moving from Lagos to Kaduna; if the truck man removes the liquid content, somebody can see it in a monitor and say, I can see the truck going to Kaduna but there is no liquid content in that truck, it means that something is wrong.

“You know we can get everything right in the upstream sector, but we cannot fix the paralysis in the downstream sector. The good people of Nigeria will not experience this big data in their lives, and that is where I want us to have a conversation – not necessarily in what is happening in the upstream or is happening in in deep water, but also how we can use technology to fix market frictions which are evident across all mechanic of trades that we are experiencing in this country”.

On creating opportunities for SMEs in the oil and gas sector, Ekekwe explained that it could be called ‘PetriTechs’ (petroleum technologies), an equivalent of financial technologies (fintechs), where young Nigerians with digital competences would come and participate in the activities of the sector.