Mr Osahon Asemota is the Managing Director of Mettle Energy and Gas. In this interview, the Edo State born business mogul speaks on the recent controversy over the supply of 10, 000 tons of petroleum products worth over $11million from TRAFIGORA, a leading world marketing company of petroleum product by his company.
He used the opportunity to hail the opportunities being given to indigenous contractors in the country by the Federal Government, just as he declared that the introduction of modular refineries will boost the economy of the Niger Delta.
Our company is a leading petroleum trading and marketing company. We have behind us over 25 years’ cognate experience in the market. Our asset base is about $200million. We have tank farms in Cross River, Lagos and Delta states. We have a growing network of petrol stations in Benin, Calabar and Lagos. We have been involved in many crude oil contracts and trading businesses with the NNPC. We are very strong in this country, we are pure professionals.
You have been in the oil and gas industry for over 20 years. Why is it still difficult for the nation to refine petroleum products here?
The truth of the matter is that in this country, this sector is one that you must crawl before you run. We believe that things are turning out for the better especially now that the indigenous companies, such as Dangote, are trying to establish refineries here. With that coming into place I believe that, by 2021, we will stop importing fuel.
That is a huge encouragement to indigenous companies because the truth is that government cannot do it alone. If you observe, you will find out that former government owned companies like Unipetrol, AP and National Oil have been taken over by indigenous companies. Now we have progressed into building refineries and a lot of them are coming up like the Oriental Refinery in the South-East and the Midwestern Oil. The only thing I will tell government to do is to create that enabling environment because, sometimes, it is not easy to do business in Nigeria. The environment here is not conducive for business but we cannot run away from our country. We will stay here and help the country and that is why we cannot run away from our liabilities.
These refineries will bridge shortfalls. Now, we are beginning to see the exit of briefcase businessmen who just go to the NNPC and pick allocations because they are favoured by the government in power. We are looking at people now who can consciously make investments and watch them grow. That is what business is all about. So modular refinery is a good step to open up the Niger Delta to development and boost the economy.
What is the issue between your company and Trafigora following the alleged contaminated 10, 000 tons of petroleum products worth over $11million which you supplied to Exxon Mobil in 2008?
That matter is in court, so I will not want to comment on it yet because some persons want to be mischievous. I am going to file a libel suit against them and I believe the court will expose the liars.
There is a call for deregulation and there are signals to that effect. Government cannot continue to bear the huge burden of subsidies in the petroleum sector. Nigerians are well enlightened given the age of the Internet which makes the world a global village. So to mobilize and sensitize the public should begin now. We should direct the minds of the citizens towards global economic news which would make them fully aware and would inform the decisions. So it won’t be the responsibility of government alone, everyone is a stake holder in making this decision.