Dagazau: Downstream Petroleum Sector Faces Numerous Challenges

Mumuni Dagazau

The Chief Operating Officer of OVH Energy Marketing, Mumuni Dagazau, in this interview speaks on the company’s approach towards maintaining operational safety and seamless business activity in the COVID-19 period as well as its contributions in tackling the virus, among other issues. Peter Uzoho presents the excerpts:

You were appointed Chief Operating Officer of OVH Energy a couple of months back, what sort of knowledge and skill are you bringing to this company?

I am a business strategist with over 30 years’ experience in the private sector. My knowledge and experience in establishing operational organisational optimisation particularly in the oil and gas sector has formed my ability to bring strategic plans to life. Working in the oil and gas sector is for me not just a job but a passion especially the downstream sector. My role as the Chief Operating Officer of OVH Energy, means that I oversee the development of a strategy to enable the achievement of OVH Energy’s vision and purpose. I am also responsible for Supply and Trading; Customer Service; Sales and Marketing; ASPM; Engineering and Terminal business.

Oil and gas companies have made various interventions to help in the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria and to cushion its economic hardship on the citizens. What has been OVH Energy’s contribution towards this so far? 

We are living in uncertain times but our focus must be to provide support in the fight against this deadly pandemic. This requires all of us coming together to join forces. As part of the industry-wide effort, OVH Energy donated N50 million towards the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC’s) collective intervention funds, via the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN). We also spent N200 million in financial support and the provision of test kits to further compliment the efforts of the NNPC. In addition, OVH Energy has also embarked on the distribution of protective masks to all staff especially those working in the front lines to continue to service our clients and the general public in our retail outlets, loading terminals and numerous transporters.  The spread of the Coronavirus in Nigeria meant that we immediately triggered our BCP (Business Continuity Plan) and initiated efforts to minimise the spread as much as we could. We heightened safety and hygiene standards at all our facilities to provide protection for our clients, neighbours, staff and their families.

As a company whose Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) policy is hinged on conducting activities in a manner that promotes the health and safety of its employees, assets and the public, as well as protection of the environment, how have you been able to uphold this policy during this pandemic era?

As I mentioned, our focus has been on preventing the spread of the disease even further among our employees. When the pandemic broke out, we deployed series of awareness sessions on the disease to all employees to ensure everyone was adequately enlightened of the risks and the required controls. Thankfully, at the moment, none of our employees or partners has been exposed to the disease.

With regards to HSE policies, what are some of the practical guidelines in line with industry practices that are being carried out at OVH Energy?

Being an organisation concerned about our communities, we deployed the implementation of our EHS policies and procedures across every facet of our operations. Our objective is three-fold: No loss of people, no loss of assets, and no damage to the environment. Here, EHS is not just one person’s responsibility; it’s the whole team’s responsibility. OVH Energy is strongly committed to keeping the environment safe, protecting our staff and members of the public. As a demonstration of our commitment, we are certified to the ISO 14001:2015 and OHSAS 18001:2007 management system standards in full compliance with international best practice.

What results do you think can be achieved with these policies, especially when adhered to?

The most important result is the prevention of fatal accidents. We want everyone who comes to our facility to return to their families. The policies and guidelines will also help drive sustainability of the business. We have had significant success in these over the years. Adherence has definitely yielded to more operational efficiency as our EHS performance records over the years have gotten better and better. We all know the risks associated with the oil and gas industry. We have been able to operate for years without any significant accident or loss due to our operations.

As an operator in the Nigerian petroleum downstream sector, what sort of risks do you see playing out in this present reality?

The downstream petroleum sector in Nigeria faces numerous challenges and rightly so as we would imagine that the journey to sustainable development is not without challenges. There are ongoing conversations on the product pricing and subsidy scheme for the sector, which in the light of economic growth, has raised numerous conversations for a more open and competitive driven market. The issue of security is also of great concern in the downstream sector. Cases of pipeline vandalism and product theft bring challenges to operators as it hinders efficiency. It also greatly impacts on revenue which in turn will affect the growth of the sector.

What measures are you taking as a company to maintain open communications with your key stakeholders in this period?

As an organisation, our stakeholders are important to us and as such to keep them fully informed, we send out regular communication via email, we also ensure to update our social media platforms on a regular basis, that way they are fully abreast of happenings.

What is your plan as you look forward to the next decade?

We will continue to build on our successes and continuously improve our HSE performance. We look forward to declaring a Lost Time Injury (LTI)-free operation in every area of our business at the end of five years.

Finally, what should operators in the oil and gas value chain be doing now for survival? 

Operators in the oil and gas value chain need to be strategic in repositioning business for optimisation. This can be achieved by cost control and management, portfolio rationalisation and asset optimisation but most importantly the conversation of consolidating efforts must be had sooner rather than later.