• Friday, June 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Levene: Navigating fresh terrains in Nigeria’s energy sector

Five things to know about Levene Hydrocarbons

With over 30 years of experience in the Petroleum Industry, Nzan Ogbe, the CEO of Levene Energy Holdings, is embarking on a journey in making Nigeria’s oil and gas sector open to indigenous participation and value retention.

Unlike in times past when only international oil companies run the show in Nigeria’s petroleum industry, Ogbe is leading a chain of indigenous oil companies in replicating the model that will invigorate indigenous participation in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

“Building the company’s corporate governance has been great for me because it set up a path for the company from the get-go. We have always worked and built on our corporate governance structure, having integrity as our watchword,” Ogbe said in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay

He said the business has grown organically, “bearing in mind that though we may be local, our competition was global, and as such, we had to do things by adhering to best practice principles.”

Lack of a good corporate governance structure and indecisiveness has posed threats to Nigeria’s energy reforms.

Last year, the electricity sector had a fair share of these discrepancies as its concerns the legality of the Bureau of Public Enterprises taking Benin Electricity Distribution Company.

Similar occurrence also unfolded in the $1.28 billion ExxonMobil-Seplat Energy shares deal with the regulatory body. According to a Bloomberg report, the indecisiveness on the part of the Federal Government could hurt Nigeria’s oil reform and foreign investment.

Read also: Jumia, Oraimo partner to deepen Nigeria’s tech ecosystem

“My drive, my hunger, is to prove that a Nigerian company could be built on proper governance structure and apply global best practices that could be comparable anywhere in the world, and that’s what keeps me up at night,” Ogbe said.

“When we won the oil blocks in Equatorial Guinea, I remember a publication in one of the international magazines describing us as the Nigerian Junior.

“Levene Energy had successfully secured four blocks in an international tender. For me, that was a thing of pride because it showed that we had a strong team even as far back as 2019 to bid and be successful in an international tender,” he said. “So that keeps me up at night to make that point and show that it can be done.”

The CEO said that while he may have missed out on the boom era where everyone was in the oil space, and everybody was buying tank farms, there was huge arbitrage at the time; people in the industry at that time were making millions of dollars in trading of refined products and crude oil.

“Interestingly, while people were moving away from the business, I was coming in, and that’s simply because I have a mindset that there are always opportunities in wartime.

“I looked at the whole landscape, paid attention to the mistakes that my progenitors, the guys that went ahead of me, made and then charted a path to ensure that I didn’t repeat those same mistakes. One of the first things I did when I decided to set up the company was incorporate a robust corporate governance structure,” he said.

According to Ogbe, founding Levene proved to him that there’s an opportunity for everyone in any market. “You just need to find a niche for yourself and operate within the ambit of that niche, but most importantly, you need to study and understand the market you’re going to.”

“I studied the energy sector post the 2013 – 2014 era, and to be honest, I discovered that there was opportunity across the value chain, and one just needed to do a little bit more to be able to obtain value, whether it is in downstream, midstream, upstream or even in the renewables space.

“Today, we are operating in that whole ambit and with some level of success for a 6-7 year-old company,” said Ogbe.

“In a nutshell, Levene Energy is an integrated company that operates across the whole oil and gas industry value chain.”

The CEO said Levene Energy started as a company trading crude oil out of Nigeria and refined products and other derivatives into Nigeria, and we built a significant book.