Engineering Ghana’s energy future Capitol Engineering Robert OSEI

There is a lot of demand for testing at the moment.

Robert OSEI CEO CAPITOL ENGINEERING

Engineering Ghana’s energy future

January 11, 2022

Robert Osei, CEO of Capitol Engineering, talks to The Energy Year about the competitiveness of Ghana’s energy industry as well as the company’s key capabilities and strategy for growth. Capitol Engineering provides civil engineering and supplies premixed concrete.

How would you evaluate the competitiveness of Ghana’s energy industry?
The number of energy projects has gone down in the past six years because we reached a state of overcapacity. However, Ghana is moving into renewables, and this will bring new projects.
Today, Ghana exports crude oil and imports finished goods. If we want to take advantage of our oil, we need to build a refinery, tank farms and other infrastructure to sell the finished product abroad.
For investors who want to build a refinery, all you have to do is deal with the environmental regulations put in place by the NPA [National Petroleum Authority]. It’s not as challenging as getting a block, where sometimes you need to be politically connected even if you have the money and the technical know-how.

What is the demand for laboratory testing for concrete cubes in Ghana?
Normally, sellers of premixed concrete have their own labs. When there is a big project, sometimes clients don’t want to rely on only one lab; they want another independent lab such as SGS. There is a lot of demand for testing at the moment. For example, we are supplying concrete to BHM Construction, a company that is responsible for building roads, and companies like that prefer independent testing.

What have been Capitol Engineering’s key activities and main milestones?
We have been in energy since the beginning in 2008, and our portfolio is 65% based on energy-related projects. Our background is in civil engineering, so we started by supporting power plants, with the first one being the Takoradi power plant. From there, we worked on the Tema power plant, where we did all the civil works and some of the installations.
After that, we did the substations for the Kumasi Bulk Power Supply project. We also worked on a tank farm for Cirrus Oil, which is the biggest tank farm in Ghana. For this project, we did all the civil works and some of the mechanical construction. We did some work for Early Power and for the last six years we have done all the civil works for AKSA Energy, which we still do.

 

Is the company currently capable of fulfilling EPC contracts?
We are specialised in civil works, and we subcontract to other companies to do the mechanical and electrical work. In electrical, we have Process & Plant Automation as our partner. We have another company called Oasis to do the mechanical work. All together, we are able to fulfil an EPC contract, while partially financing our own projects ourselves. We collaborated on the AKSA Heavy Fuel Oil Power Plant in Tema, where 370 MW was completed in less than two years.
Refineries, for example, are not beyond our scope. Once the designs are done, we can do the construction. For the Tema Oil Refinery we’ve built a tank farm and we are building an equipment base. Unfortunately, since the last refinery was built in Ghana, there has not been a new refinery project.

How is Capitol Engineering contributing to Ghana’s energy transition?
We have provided civil works for a 1-MW solar farm in Kumasi. We are in talks with Sunon Asogli Power to expand our capacity in wind farms because there haven’t been any wind farms built in Ghana yet. Regarding LPG tank farms and tanks, we have the capability, but we do not have projects currently. We can supply concrete, as we’ve done for the China Petroleum Pipeline project.
We also have the capability to work in pipelines. We’re providing technical assistance to Ghana Gas as well as concrete to other subcontractors.

What are the main challenges in expanding?
The main challenges are financial because expansion requires equipment, and this is very capital intensive. For example, we just acquired a new concrete pump from Germany at a cost of USD 450,000, and we need more of these.

What is Capitol Engineering’s growth strategy?
We plan to put up plants in Kumasi and Takoradi, where we can sell concrete and do the construction. We are planning to have partnerships, such as in wind farms for equipment and technical capabilities and even in civil works because we are planning to enter the road sector and we will need capabilities for that.
We expect to secure a strategic partner to open a branch in Liberia or possibly Nigeria for construction. We’re looking at opportunities in Côte d’Ivoire, where we did a previous job, and they want us to come and assist them in a project in Abidjan.

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