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How stakeholders are digitising downstream operations

By Kingsley Jeremiah, Abuja
16 August 2018   |   2:36 am
Major players in the country’s petroleum industry would continue to invest in the digitisation of operations in the downstream sector to address challenges and improve service delivery, the groups under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria ...

Say Nigeria not ready for self-service filling stations
Major players in the country’s petroleum industry would continue to invest in the digitisation of operations in the downstream sector to address challenges and improve service delivery, the groups under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPMAN) as well as key members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Nigerian Independent Petroleum Company (NIPCO Plc) have told The Guardian.

But the groups ruled out possibility of self-service retail outlets, saying that the deployment of retail stations serviced by attendants remained a service that would continue in the foreseeable future considering the huge infrastructure and security gap in the country.

MOMAN’s Head, Economic Intelligence Research & Regulation, Ogechi Nkwoji said the companies were at different stages of automation, adding that the oil majors would have and would continue to invest, to stay at the fore of technological advancements.

Considering that the petroleum industry is evolving, with a number of positive impacts on customer interface and operational efficiency, Nkwoji said Nigeria must equally evolve to meet the expectations of customers by improving service delivery while contending with the country’s challenging business environment.“Effective use of technology, including the digitisation of Nigeria’s petroleum downstream operations is sure to yield immense benefits in the economy,” Nkwoji said.

According to her, the development will transform the operations of petroleum marketers in the areas of safety, optimisation of operational efficiency, mitigation of risks, reduction in operational and maintenance costs; all of which will be beneficial to consumers and other stakeholders in the value chain.

Nkwoji said: “The use of new technology amongst MOMAN members includes the development of individual company websites. This key interface between our customers and other stakeholders is fundamental as it provides a platform to manage our profile and build our image.

“Existing automation amongst MOMAN members include digitisation in the receipt and delivery of products at all MOMAN depots via modern metrological equipment, automated valve switching and tank gauges (ATG) for stock monitoring and control, access control, activity monitoring, automated firefighting systems and warning alarm systems all aimed at ensuring operational efficiency and safety.”

She added that the MOMAN lubricant blending and LPG filling plants have also witnessed digitisation, stressing that the development enhanced product validation and curbed the adulteration and counterfeiting of such products in the Nigerian market, and as such enable consumers to get good value for money.Speaking about how the group has automated retail stations, Nkwoji said a key customer interface impacted by digitisation was the introduction of a card solution system for fleet management.

“This ‘money-on-the-go’ electronic smart card is used for the purchase of products and services in some MOMAN retail stations. The card also doubles up as a perfect tool for tracking customers’ fuel consumption and expenses.

“Other customer interfaces impacted by digitalisation include payment solutions championed by the advancements in the Nigerian banking sector; installation of ATGs and the connection of pumps to communication devices for improved product monitoring and logistics optimization; station forecourt management systems to improve sales analysis, consumption rates and demand projections; and ultimately customer service management systems synced to MOMAN members administrative offices for improved efficiency and service delivery.”

DAPMAN’s Secretary, Olufemi Adewole said most members of the association were at different stage of automating operations at the depots.While stating that the growing technological trend in the sector remained unstoppable, Adewole said that there well challenges the country needs to overcome to allow adoption of technology in the system.

He however noted that operators could introduce initiative to city spotlight areas, especially in Lagos Island.Spokesperson for NIPCO, Taofeek Lawson said digitisation remained key process in the company’s operations, adding that the firm has very minimal human interventions in operations.

According to though each marketer loading in the firm’s depot is supposed to do this on their own, the level of literacy among the representatives of marketing companies has compelled the company to detail our staff to do this for the customers.

Lawal said: “Trucking still remains the available means of transportation of petroleum products to stations in Nigeria. Efforts to use rail or pipelines have remained abortive for several reasons ranging from selfish ends of truck owners to state of our rail lines .We ate still upbeat that the scenario will change soonest.“Gradually ,we will get there as many depots with branded stations have introduced automated filling of products to motorist vehicles through machine which are used to fill in liters of products demanded by motorist .Before this is manually done but with a finger tip ,quantity requested by motorist and total amount of such clearly seen on the dispensing pump

“We are improving on our automation process as all stated above were put in place 14 years ago when we started operations but as time goes on we are improving on them . If you visit any of our LPG skids, you will see better automation to the extent that customers on their own can refill their cylinders after making payment”.

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