Exploiting INTELS’ Capacity for Development
Eromosele Abiodun writes Nigeria’s effort to diversify the economy and make the maritime sector a major contributor can be better achieved if its collaborates with stakeholders like INTELS that has the needed capacity, expertise and financial strength
Prior to the concessioning of ports to private operators in 2006, doing business in Nigeria’s ports was a hellish experience laced with a myriad of problems.
One of the major problems was turnaround time for ships, which took too long making businesses to brace themselves for weeks, if not months, of endless waiting before their cargo could be loaded or discharged.
Also, most of the few cargo-handling facilities owned by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) were moribund, so shipping companies had to hire such facilities from private sector sources, leading to extra costs.
Dwell time for goods in port was so long that overtime cargo filled the most active seaports and led to massive port congestion. Labour for ship work was controlled by a mafia that was not n charge of dockworker unions and had no scruples supplying less than the manpower paid for. Many port premises that could have been put to good use were abandoned, giving maritime businesses less options.
Concession has, however, reduced most of the problems in the ports to the barest minimum with the help of terminal operators and free trade zones investment in the sector.
Today, following massive investment by private operators and the bid by the federal government to diversify the economy, greater attention is now been paid to the maritime sector as a possible replacement for crude oil as Nigeria’s economic mainstay.
Recently, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside charged Nigerians to key into the opportunities afforded by the Blue economy stating that it is the fastest growing sector in the world with enormous business potentials.
He said it was high time Nigerians began to tap into the opportunities embedded in our maritime sector adding that economies of the likes of Singapore, Ukraine and South Korea thrive on the activities of their maritime sector.
“Developing the blue economy is paramount across the globe now, and the public and private sector have to collaborate to sustainably harness the potentials of our maritime sector for the benefit of the Nigerian economy especially as the federal government continues the economic diversification drive, ”he said.
Experts believe this is achievable if the federal government collaborates with key operators in the sector who has the capacity, expertise and financial strength to carry out big ticket projects in the sector.
One of such operators is INTELS Nigeria Limited. In 2006, the federal government awarded the company concession to operate Terminal A (Federal Ocean Terminal) and Terminal B (Federal Lighter Terminal) at the Onne Port Complex, which houses the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone. It also operates terminals in Warri, Calabar and Apapa ports.
Established in 1982 at the OnnePort Complex, INTELS, the oil and gas logistics services giant has, over time, become a major participant in the development of the Oil and Gas Free Zone (OGFZ) located in the area. It operates the Onne, Warri and Calabar Oil and Gas Free Zones strategically located in the heart of the Niger Delta to offer the best platform for the provision of logistics solutions to the oil and gas industry.
The company has created an integrated logistics solution that offers a complete array of facilities and services for oil and gas industry operators in the sub-Saharan West African region.
The company provides agency services, cargo services, port management and support services to its clients and also manages its clients’ operations in the areas of pipe racks, stacking areas, ware-housing, enclosed areas, jetties, offices, water tanks, fuel storages, generators, compressors, and other services.
Integrated Logistics Vision
INTELS drives her integrated logistics vision in cooperation with the respective government authorities, national oil companies, major oil producing companies and related services companies. With additional support from APPA (African Petroleum Producers Association) and AIP (African Institute of Petroleum), a common philosophy has evolved for managing oil and gas activities on a regional basis.
Also, INTELS has created over 20,000 direct and 200,000 indirect employment opportunities together with substantial transfer of technology with a strict adherence to Nigerian content policy.
With over 30 years of experience in ports management and terminal logistics support services in shore bases across Nigeria, INTELS has become famous for applying the “One Stop Shop” solution under its Oil Services Centre Concept.
The company has invested several billions of dollars in port development and is committed to working with relevant agencies of the federal government to derive full benefits of oil and gas logistics services in the country.
Stakeholders told THISDAY that INTELS has been a trusted partner to major oil and gas producing companies in Nigeria and a highly significant logistic partner to NPA in the development of ports infrastructure and service in Nigeria.
“In over 30 years, we have added substantial value to the Nigerian oil and gas service industry and the operators have found our services strategic to their operations. In the maritime sector, INTELS’ operation as a port infrastructure developer and maritime service provider reinvigorated and brought the needed momentum and life to Nigerian ports and the maritime industry with improved capacity to serve the nation. These efforts by INTELS have in turn boosted earnings and contributions by these sectors to the Nigerian economy while generating much-needed employment for Nigerians.
“To achieve our vision of providing an integrated, efficient, reliable and cost-effective logistics solution to the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, we introduced an innovative one-stop-shop oil service centre concept designed to meet the growing specialized needs of oil producing companies in one location to provide an integrated, efficient, reliable and cost effective logistics solution to operators in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. This innovative concept has enhanced service delivery and turnaround time for oil and gas industry projects and thus endeared INTELS to its partners, ”said a stakeholder.
INTELS’s Competitive Edge
Regulators attest to the fact that the company has what it takes to lead the charge for Nigeria’s quest for a vibrant maritime sector.
Recently, the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, said that INTELS Nigeria Limited has competitive advantage over other terminal operators in the handling of oil and gas logistics in the country.
Speaking in Lagos on Television Continental (TVC) Business Prgramme, Usman said INTELS is already a well-established terminal operator having been in the business for more than 30 years.
According to her, ”I don’t think they (INTELS) should shy away from competing with other terminals. They should welcome the fact that having really established that business, they should be able to compete and get all the cargo to themselves, and, indeed, if you have been operating and doing this service for years and now someone else is coming, you should have a favorable edge.”
The NPA boss had expressed similar sentiment for INTELS in October 2016 during her maiden visit to the expansive port facility and the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone.
Shortly after being conducted round the multimillion dollars facility, Usman said she was impressed by the high quality, “efficient and effective” facilities and services provided by INTELS.
She described the facility as “very tidy” and the infrastructure as being “deployed efficiently and effectively.”
Dakuku Commends INTELS
Also recently, the DG of NIMASA, Peterside lauded INTELS Nigeria Limited for its investments and for full compliance with provisions of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) and the Nigerian Local Content Law.
He also commended the oil and gas logistics giant for having faith in Nigeria, stating that despite the challenging operating environment and some policy inconsistencies, the company had continued to invest in the country.
“It takes faith to have this kind of investment. You believe you can invest in Nigeria, grow with Nigeria, prosper with Nigeria, face challenges with Nigeria, and you have done that for 30 years and still counting. You deserve nothing but commendation, ”Peterside said.
He noted that the achievements recorded by INTELS in three decades show that there are lots of possibilities where there is will and vision.
He noted that the transformation that has taken place in Onne Port and the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone over the years “is a source of encouragement for most of us who are playing one role or the other in government.”
According to Peterside, “It means if we create the right environment, we will have so many other INTELS flourishing within our territory and will create employment for our people, create limitless wealth for our people.”
He said it is the responsibility of government to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive and thereby create jobs for the citizens.
“I am particularly happy that INTELS is complying with the ISPS Code. When we talk about oil and gas industry, safety is paramount to us. In all its dimensions, if you flourish in the industry at the risk of lives, it is not worth it.
“Ours is safety administration. And safety is our number one priority. Whether you are in core shipping or shipping related functions, our emphasis is to make you workplace safety as your number one priority. If it will cost lives, it is not worth doing. The ISPS code as you know, is an international rule. It is not just a Nigerian rule.
“Before now we were assessed by the US Coast Guard, as being 13 percent compliant. But because of the cooperation we enjoy from INTELS and other terminal operators, at the last rating, the US Coast Guard rated us above 80 percent compliance. In addition to being compliant to the ISPS code, I am also impressed from the reports I have read about your compliance with the Nigerian Content Development Act. I believe that is the way for sustainable businesses to go.
“It is not enough that we make profit for our shareholders, that is not enough to make our firms sustainable; what can make our firms sustainable is collaboration with our communities. Without that collaboration, you will not have the requisite social license to operate. You could just operate for a season, but when our interest is intertwined with that of the community, we can run sustainable business because we will of course have the social license to operate, ”he said.
Speaking further, he said: “Whatever happens to INTELS today happens to Onne community. Their existence will be threatened and when INTELS flourishes, the Onne Community will flourish and by extension Nigeria. And so I am happy that you are compliant with the Local Content Act.”
He said the present administration in the country believes in the rule of law, consistency and the sanctity of the contractual relationships or agreements, “and so whatever relationships or agreements that you have with us will be respected and that I can confirm to you and so I have absolutely no doubt that if all grey areas are looked at, eventually we will all be on the same page and you continue to do business.”
Benefits of Oil and Gas Free Zone
In a chat with newsmen recently, the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of INTELS Nigeria Limited, Mr. Patrick Bird has declared that the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone offers enormous advantages and incentives to foreign companies to invest in Nigeria.
According to him, the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone creates the environment necessary to support Nigeria’s economic and industrial development.
He said INTEL, along with the the government of Nigeria, developed the zone to provide an oil service centre for onshore and offshore operations while providing the West African and greater sub-Saharan oil and gas industry easy access and duty-free distribution facilities.
The INTELS CCO enumerated some of the benefits of the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, which houses 170 companies, to include 100 per cent repatriation of capital investment, full remittance of profits and dividends, zero Customs tariffs on exports and non-requirement of import or export licenses.
He also said that all goods manufactured in the Free Zone can be sold in the Nigerian market.
“The Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone helps Nigeria maximize its natural resources to attract foreign investments and create employment, enhance the welfare of the people, aid technology transfer and the overall economic development of the country,” he said.
He said the success of the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone has led to the creation of similar zones in Warri and Lagos.