Technology, qualified personnel and having the right partners are all important aspects of business.


Pan-African ambitions

April 3, 2023

Oladiran Fawibe, chairman of International Energy Services Limited (IESL), talks to The Energy Year about the company’s footprint in the Nigerian market, its current contracts and the opportunities it sees ahead. IESL provides engineering design services in African markets.

What is your current footprint in the Nigerian market?
Today we are one of the leading engineering design companies in the country, having experience with and recognition from major players such as ExxonMobil, TotalEnergies, Chevron, Agip, SNEPCo, Seplat Energy and other independent companies. We have entered into an agreement with Doris Engineering, a world-leading design company based in Paris, which has led to the creation of a joint venture called IESL Doris Limited, in which we own 55% equity.
Lately we have developed strong capabilities in supply chain management by partnering with a number of OEMs, with which we work very well. We have now acquired a facility in Calabar where we will be able to assemble some of their equipment.
Another company we have partnered with is STAT Marine, which provides services for the installation and inspection of offshore structures.

Tell us about your current contracts.
We had landed a contract to work on the Bonga field before Covid-19 hit, and once the project resumes, we will be able to not only provide services for topside engineering but because we had worked with Cameron, and General Electric (GE), we can offer subsea solutions as well.
Regarding our midstream operations, we have started with helping Duport Midstream Company to structure their project in terms of design and project management.
For pipeline works, gas processing plants and modular refineries we are currently working with NNPC subsidiaries such as the NGC and NPDC in their gas development programmes. A further project we are doing in the gas value chain is gas distribution, for both natural gas and LPG.


What opportunities do you see ahead for IESL?
We are in the process of upgrading International Energy Services to make it a full EPC services provider. With the prior experience we have in design as well as procurement through our work with OEMs and our fabrication facility, we are well positioned to become leaders in that sector.
We remain very aggressive regarding chasing opportunities, and more so with IOCs, as they have been present in Nigeria for the past 60 years and have been reliable. We are also looking at the other companies that are increasing their operations, whether on or offshore. We are aiming to take part in the execution of their projects.
There are over 200 tcf [5.66 tcm] of gas reserves in Nigeria, and fossil fuels remain key to our development. Considering this, we are eyeing projects such as gas distribution with mini-LNG. We did a business case for the distribution of about 50 million tonnes of LNG, which will be majorly export oriented, with probably 80% for export, and 20% for local supply. We are currently also looking at some mini-solar grid projects for some state governments.

What are the main challenges you are facing?
Like in most areas of business in developing countries, funding is a major challenge. Having strong longevity, good marketing and a great network are not sufficient for you to get opportunities. You need the funds to invest in the facilities required for developing your activities.
Technology, qualified personnel and having the right partners are all important aspects of the business, but they can be bought. The fundamental challenge remains finance – everything can be assembled after that.
Fortunately, our clients’ trust in our company and the work we provide have made it possible for us to remain in the market for more than 30 years.

What are your ambitions in terms of regional expansion?
Our initial ambition was to be a pan-African company, but the downturn within the oil and gas industry has affected this. We now aim to consolidate our activities in Ghana, Mozambique and Equatorial Guinea first.
In Equatorial Guinea, we have a strong position, as we entered into a JV agreement with the national oil company, GEPetrol, to form a company called GEPIES, in which we own 35% of the equity. The main purpose of the JV is to operate with oil and gas companies in the areas of engineering design, oil and gas facilities development, project management and construction supervision, energy management and power-related contracts, supply chain management and more.
Recently, we won a major contract with ExxonMobil for manpower supply services.
In Mozambique, we have executed projects covering fabrication and procurement services for SLB, and we are in talks with Sasol for a major procurement contract for their Production Sharing Agreement project in Mozambique. Also, we are in discussion with the CCS JV for local engineering support services. CCS is the major contractor for TotalEnergies’ Area 1 development, a project with a production capacity of 12.8 million tonnes of LNG annually.
The goal of becoming a pan-African company remains, and our next ambition revolves around Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire.

What has been your growth strategy?
The industry has changed over time and competition has risen, but thanks to the strong foundations we’ve built, we have been able to position ourselves as competent players in the market. Credit can be given to IOCs and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, as they have always encouraged and supported local companies to become better and develop their capabilities.
We’ve also had supportive clients with whom we were able to do projects where the receivables flow structure was beneficial to us. Now we have the strength to rely on internally generated funds or, for some projects, we leverage financial institutions’ funds.
Our plan to become leaders in EPC requires a step-by-step approach. We will be bidding for small-scale construction projects across the value chain in the oil and gas sector, such as pipelines and skids, as well as doing facility maintenance. Currently, we have steady procurement and installation contracts with NLNG in Nigeria and WAPCO [West African Gas Pipeline Company] in Ghana. We aim to shift towards construction and become major players within three years.

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