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Imrane Barry: CEO leading the only IOC in Nigeria’s downstream sector

With a career spanning over 24 years, Imrane Barry, managing director of Total Nigeria Plc, is championing a fresh idea in Nigeria’s petroleum sector despite challenges.

Under the leadership of Barry, Total Nigeria is currently the only International Oil Company (IOC) in Nigeria’s downstream sector with diverse innovations including lubricants, insecticides and solar energy, which is being used to provide alternative power.

Under his leadership, Total Nigeria aims to be a leader in Nigeria’s downstream sector with extensive distribution networks across the country and a wide range of top-quality energy products and services.

Nigeria, ranked as the 13th largest crude oil producer in the world with an average daily output of about 2 million barrels per day, one would expect that the downstream sector would be abuzz with significant investments and activities. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The sector is currently bogged down with numerous challenges, such as inappropriate product pricing, bridging product supply, insecurity, irregular gas supply, pipeline vandalism, inadequate pipeline infrastructure and nonfunctional/under-functioning refineries among others.

Read also: Guinness Nigeria records biggest loss in 9 years

Barry stated that the reason Total Nigeria will not exit the downstream sector whether now or in the future is because of the company’s strong belief in the country.

Barry is running with the vision of tapping into the human capital in Africa by training people and knowing how to think globally and act on it.

“Total believes in the continent. We are Nigeria Total in Ghana, we are Nigeria Total in Cote D Ivoire, and we are Nigeria Total in Africa,” Barry said at the “Pan African” petroleum summit the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, (NIPS) in Abuja earlier this year.

He noted that the company invests more than 50 per cent of its revenue to ensure safety of workers especially those with the responsibility of moving products from one location to the other. “For the biggest risk is not on the platforms only, but also in the downstream”, he said.

With Barry were other panelists who attempted a constructive swipe at the key issue of “Sustaining Industry Momentum in the Downstream – What new strategies, tactics and innovative partnership”.

They include Emeka Ene, CEO, Oildata Inc, Tunji Oyebanji, CEO 11Plc and Chairman Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Prince Abner Ishaku, Technical Assistant ( Downstream) to Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Devakumar Edwin, ED Dangote Industries, among others.

“We believe in Africa. The beauty is that we are a medium enterprise and for such an organization, it is important to be deeply rooted in the country where you are located,” Barry told the audience.

For Barry innovation is an indispensable key in operating in Nigeria’s downstream sector.

“If you don’t innovate you will die. Innovation is something permanent. Today, as part of innovation, we are continuing with the fleet management solution into our cards. As far as lubricant is concerned, we are moving into a new generation of base oil and Total is about to launch new packaging for lubricants which is more appealing. This is also the feature technical characteristics of the products,” Barry said on the sideline in an interview with Energy Focus Report Magazine.

On transport safety, Barry said Total Nigeria is introducing a new software that is based on camera which will capture the face of the driver to alert early fatigue signs and prevent the driver on how to manage the journey.

Barry who also spoke at business forum in Lagos has this to say: “Clarity, priority and focus is important in business. It is extremely important to know why we are doing something. It is important to set up our priority and stick to them. It is also vital to share the financial report with your team. This will put you all on the same page; nothing is hidden. This topic of discussion is just a reflection on our normal and daily lifestyle.”

He pointed out that the major challenges to operational excellence are: “adaptation to changes and ensuring your balance sheet is strong, lack of urgency and also the variability and aim for excellence.”

The Oil Industry has had a particularly tough year, owing primarily to the novel pandemic. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that the global oil demand is expected to further decline this year as Covid-19 spreads around the world, constraining travel as well as other economic activities.

Organizations like Total depending on international trade will be forced to scale down operations until restrictions ease off.

The company, in its last full year annual report, noted that to make significant savings to both operational and capital expenditure costs, a series of initiatives relating to cost efficiency, process optimization, and significant reduction of working capital requirement and finance costs, were put in place and are in motion for this year.

Imrane is not new to the Total group as he had previously served as Managing Director of Total Uganda in 2013, Total Cameroon SA in 2015 and Total Nigeria Plc in 2018. He also worked with other Total affiliates in Kenya and Ivory Coast, at Sep-congo as the Technical and Transport Director, and in Paris as the Strategy and Development Senior Officer.

Imrane joined Elf in 1996 where he served as Operations Manager in Guinea and Engineering and Operations Manager in Kenya. Between 2000 and 2002, he served in Totalfinelf Guinea as Operations Manager. From 2002 to 2012 he served as Operations Manager in Total Cote d’ivoire, Technical and Transport Director in Total DR Congo and StrategyDevelopment Senior Officer in Total Paris. He was appointed the Deputy to the Executive Vice-president Total West Africa in 2012.

In 2013, Barry was appointed Managing Director of Total Uganda and Managing Director of Total Cameroon in 2015. In 2018, he was appointed Managing Director of Total Nigeria Plc.

Prior to joining Total, Imrane worked in several capacities in Engineering and Construction Companies in Guinea Conakry, Cote d’ivoire and Gabon. He holds a Degree in Civil Engineering from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Traveux PublicsENSTP (Cote d’ivoire).

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