Nigeria’s power industry is set to experience a new boost as oil magnate, Femi Otedola, invests $1 billion into the Gberegu Power Plant. Otedola recently sold over 75% of his shares in Forte Oil Plc and confirmed through his social media handle that he is re-focusing his business interest from the downstream and upstream sub-sector of the oil and gas industry to the energy sector.
The billionaire indicates that from now on, his primary focus will be on power generation and no longer the Nigerian oil and gas sector. Prior to this time, Otedola had invested $94 million in the Gberegu power plant in 2013. He wanted to see a rise in energy capacity from 414 megawatts to 434 megawatts. To further strengthen his hold on the sector, Otedola invested another $350 million into the Gberegu power plant in 2018.
The Gberegu Power Plc is a part of the unbundled corporations within the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, which gave rise to the incorporation of Gberegu Power Plc in November 2006. The sale occurred under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
While in the downstream and upstream sector, Otedola was a major player in the oil sector with Forte Oil Plc being one of the leading diesel distribution companies in Nigeria. Femi Otedola sees his experience in the oil sector as a long one where he has contributed his quota to the development of the moribund company.
Otedola says, “A few years ago, my team and I embarked on an arduous task of transforming a moribund petroleum marketing business, African Petroleum Plc (formerly British Petroleum) into Forte Oil Plc; a leading integrated solutions provider with solid footprints in downstream petroleum marketing, Upstream Services and Power Generation and one in which we built intrinsic value to the benefits of our shareholders”.
Now the oil magnate believes it’s time to face the power sector to support the government’s drive for power generation.
“In line with my principle of business focus, we have divested from our marketing and upstream businesses and shall from now on focus and consolidate on the gains of our power generation business, Geregu Power Plc.
He recalls how Forte Oil rose to the occasion to solve the lingering kerosene scarcity problems across Nigeria. Forte Oil had to in such situations sell kerosene directly to Nigerians at its various petrol outlets nationwide.
Otedola’s Forte Oil shares were completely divested as at June this year and sold to the new owners, Prudent Energy. Prudent Energy came on board through Ignite Investments and Commodities Ltd, as a local Oil and gas company.
Forte Oil has gone through several changes of ownership over the years. It started out as the British Petroleum company until it was bought over by the federal government of Nigeria and become known as the African Petroleum Plc. With its privatization, Sodiq Oil took over the reins for a short while before the Forte Oil Plc under Otedola came on board. African Petroleum, before Forte Oil’s acquisition, was dysfunctional. But it took the ingenuity of the new management who incorporate innovative ideas to bring the company back to life.
Femi Otedola intends to invest at least $1 billion over the years into the Gberegu Power Plant. If this becomes a reality, it will help strengthen Nigeria as power generation is currently a prominent concern.