By KUNLE KALEJAYE
Forte Oil Plc, one of the leading indigenous petroleum marketing companies in Nigeria has said that part of its portfolio expansion will include upstream, refining and power to consolidate on its existing businesses, even as its attempts to acquire Shell’s OML 30 was aborted in 2010.
The Managing Director of Forte Oil, Mr. Akin Akinfemiwa, told journalists in Lagos that despite the failed attempt, the company has not given up on expanding operations to the upstream sub-sector of the industry, as it is currently reviewing some assets with a view to taking investment decisions on them.
To this end, he said Forte Oil has already registered an upstream company, FB Energy Development Company Limited, preparatory to taking those investment decisions.
Akinfemiwa said: “In 2010, we are runner s up to Shell divestment from OML 30, and we did that in collaboration with few of our foreign partners, but sad enough we could not clinch that deal.
“So we already have an upstream entity registered and running for us that is pursuing the sale of assets. We are currently ready for the marginal field bid round and also the general offshore block bid round.
“So we already have a working structure. We are currently looking at some assets as we speak, but we will do everything within the confines of our financial strength. So we will look at what is best for the company and what is best for the shareholders.
“We already have a working structure with few of our foreign partners that are working with us. We have not taken any decision for now, we are looking at everything but at the point of investment decision, we will let you know.
“Our aim is to provide quality products and services using high safety standards and global best practices, while remaining profitable and socially responsible. Our focus is to continuously improve our services and expand our business network in Nigeria and to other countries in Africa.”
With regard to expansion other sectors of the energy value chain like power and refining, Akinfemiwa noted that Forte Oil is doing relatively well, especially as it’s consortium, Amperion Power, was among the first of the preferred bidders to pay the compulsory 25 percent deposit for the distribution company it bided for.
As a result, he said the company did not experience any difficulty raising the compulsory deposit as demanded by the Bureau of Public Entreprises, BPE, and did not envision experiencing any difficulties in raising the balance of 75 percent before the August 22, deadline.
“We did not experience any difficulty raising fund to pay our 25 per cent. We were the first to pay in February. We are ready to take over operation of our investment and we are sure to meet the dead line of payment for the leftover of the 75 per cent in August,” he assured.
It will be recalled that Forte Oil and partners also bided and won the bids for the Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries, before the Federal Government cancelled the privatisation of the nation’s refineries as originally scheduled by the National Council of Privatisation, NCP.
Notwithstanding the cancellations, the Forte Oil boss is still hopeful of going into refining when the sector is fully deregulated, saying, “In 2008, we bided for the Kaduna and Pot-Harcourt refineries, we still have our eyes in the refinery business but for now, we are keeping our fingers cross because the market has not been fully deregulated, which means that the market is not viable for now.”