Tech can reduce risk of substandard products in Nigeria’s lubricant market – Keshinro

Dapo Keshinro is the consultant for the International Lubricant Conference. In this interview with JOSEPHINE OKOJIE, he speaks on how collaborative efforts and technological application will improve the lubricant sub-sector of Nigeria’s petroleum industry. Find the interview excerpts:

Can you shed more light on the impact of the annual international lubricant conference on the Nigerian lubricant industry?

The International Lubricant conference is one of the best congregations of experts from different parts of the world that enlightens stakeholders on innovative industry developments as well as the advancement of the lubricants market worldwide. Through the conferences, industry experts have shared insights about the lubricant market, global trends, and outlook for the future. The premiere edition of the conference which happened last year analysed the way forward for growth in Africa’s growing lube market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s edition also had industry experts discuss technological advancements in the lubricants industry, the influence of digital technology on the industry value chain, global regulatory changes as well as an analysis of the raw material supply chain and logistics in Nigeria. Highlights from the two editions have been instrumental to the decision-making process of the lubricant sub-sector of Nigeria’s petroleum industry.

What necessitated ‘Technology and its Application to the Lubricants Industry’ as the theme for this year’s edition of ILC?

The reason for the choice of theme is not far-fetched. Globally, new digital trends are radically changing the business landscape, reshaping the nature of work and affecting access to international markets. With the unending digital trend, adopting innovations and technological development have become necessary for any sector willing to thrive.

These innovations have prompted the need to consider and discuss technology and its application in the Nigerian lubricant industry to attract a high market value that will impact the economy.

Can you speak on the importance of digital transformation to Nigeria’s lubricant industry?

Digital transformation is inevitable if the lubricant subsector of the oil and gas industry is to address prevailing challenges competently and sustainably. Despite being in its infancy, the gradual adoption of digital transformation in this sector has helped lubricant companies increase their value. The areas that have been affected by digitisation include production, procurement, value chain optimisation, supply chain management, and sales. For these lubricant companies to further boost their production, improve quality and reduce carbon emissions, they need to further integrate digital technologies and fully realize their digital transformation goals. Through the adoption of the 4Ds of digital transformation -design, development, data, and digital, the industry will be able to fully leverage the benefits of digitalisation.

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What are the major challenges in the industry?

The Nigerian lubricant sector is a growing and promising one with huge opportunities, but certain challenges continue to threaten its growth. One of the major challenges experienced is the menace of substandard lubricants which has hindered the industry from reaching its full potential. According to some research, 30percent of lubricants consumed in Nigeria are substandard which is either caused by consumer ignorance, financial incentives, or ineffective regulations. The industry players also experience some major supply chain challenges such as raw material sourcing, port challenges, availability of power to manufacture, lack of adequate infrastructure, high cost of operations as well as last-mile delivery challenges.

How can technology serve as a useful tool to curb the proliferation of substandard lubricants in Nigeria?

Technology has proffered lasting solutions to several sectoral challenges. It also remains one of the relevant tools to reduce the menace of substandard products in the Nigerian lubricant market. Some of the technological steps that can be adopted to significantly reduce this proliferation include the use of biomarker fingerprinting, the introduction of case base classifier, the use of a supply chain tracking system & RFID technology, the introduction of mobile product authentication, the use of QR coding technology, use of product app technology and social media awareness. These methods would also provide valuable opportunities enabling the lubricant market to thrive and effectively compete in the global market.

In your opinion, what role should the regulators play in curbing the influx of substandard lubricants into the country?

The role of regulators in curbing the influx of substandard lubricants into the country cannot be overemphasized. They have important roles to play to serve as a check and balance on the manufacturers and importers. Certain measures can be put in place such as enforcing huge fines and punishment on apprehended manufacturers and importers of substandard products, implementing laws to regulate the right production quality, and effective legislation to protect lubricant producers from illegal importation of finished lubricants.

As mentioned earlier, supply chain challenges are dominant within the lubricant sector. What are the likely solutions to challenges identified so far?

Supply chain challenges have always been a pressing issue in the lubricant sector as it slows down the efficiency of industry players. In a country like ours, the supply chain faces disruptions such as vessel unavailability, bad roads, insecurity, and increased cost of operations among others. The solution to the challenges facing the supply chain of the lubricant sector requires a collaborative effort of all relevant stakeholders such as the government, regulatory bodies, manufacturers, and the oil and gas companies operating within and outside the country. Some of the suggested solutions would be an improved planning process, complying with the government’s policies on importation, flexibility in shipping and port decisions, strengthened business partnership between manufacturers & distributors, and installation of the rail system for bulk transport.

The 2022 edition of the International Lubricant Conference shared insights on technological advancement and its impact on the Nigerian Lubricant industry. Can you shed more light on how this will improve the outlook for the industry?

Primarily, the goal of this year’s edition was to provide technological solutions to the challenges in the sector. All the experts who spoke at the conference shared diverse perspectives based on their experience within the industry. These solutions will improve the outlook for the future as the manufacturers will be able to produce top-quality products, build capacity, and increase output for Nigeria to remain relevant within not just the local market but the global lubricant market as well. Also, the Conference continues to offer industry professionals the valuable opportunity to develop long-lasting business partnerships and learn about the latest advancements, challenges, and opportunities within the sector.

ILC 2022 recognised outstanding industry leaders in the lubricant market who have made an impact. What inspired the recognition and how will this be sustained?

In any growth-driven organisation or industry, connecting experts and key stakeholders to lead conversations for industry advancement is not enough to propel growth. There is also a need to recognise the performance of outstanding leaders as this will encourage and sustain the development of the industry. This has motivated the organisers of the International Lubricants Conference (ILC) to give recognition awards to thought leaders in the Nigerian lubricant sector. This year’s awardees include Ammasco International limited got the Prime Player award, Total Energies received ILC Impact Award, Seahorse Lubricants got the ILC Quality Award, and Best Trading Company Limited which was recognised with ILC Award for The Best Production Technology. The act will be sustained through partnership and support from other relevant organisations.

When is the next edition of the International Lubricant Conference and what should stakeholders look out for in subsequent editions?

The next edition of the International Lubricant Conference is the South Africa Edition. It is scheduled to take place on the 17th and 18th of November 2022. The edition will be a gathering of stakeholders across the world to discuss pressing issues within South Africa’s lubricants Industry. As South Africa is one of the major lubricants markets on the continent and the highest consumer of Group II base oil in Africa, the conference will enlighten industry stakeholders and participants on innovative developments in the lubricants market worldwide to further position South Africa as a leader in the global market.

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