‘A symbol of possibilities in Africa’ – Century celebrates FPSO acquisition

Dr Preye Angaye and Karl Harris discuss the challenges for oil and gas operators in Nigeria, and Century Group's successes in 2019

January 6, 2020

Century Group is the largest indigenous operator of floating production storage and offloading vessels (FPSOs) in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria is the largest oil and gas producer in Africa, but the industry has endured a long history of political challenges. Century’s Head of Business Strategy, Dr Preye Angaye, explains those challenges and how the group has overcome them; while Head of Corporate Affairs Karl Harris outlines Century’s successes this year and discusses the importance of being a proudly Nigerian brand in the oil and gas industry.

World Finance: I’m with Dr Preye Angaye and Karl Harris from Nigeria’s Century Group. Century is the largest indigenous operator of floating production storage and offloading vessels in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria is the largest oil and gas producer in Africa, but the industry has endured a long history of political challenges.

Dr Preye, talk to me about those political challenges, and how they’re impacting investment in the oil and gas industry.

Dr Preye Angaye: Well, the political challenges we’ve had are not necessarily particular to Nigeria, but yeah.

They’ve bordered around the policy, taxation, and the operational environment. So if for instance it takes a longer time to arrive at policies that would give confidence to investors, then that would also stand as a challenge.

However, I think the government of the day has not really done too badly in recent times. We’ve had the petroleum industry governance bill passed, and the Deep Offshore Act has also in recent times come on-stream.

We’ve also had policies surrounding the local content, which tries to encourage indigenous participation. And I think on the whole there’s better corporate governance around oil and gas industry operations at the moment. So yes, we’ve had challenges, but I think we’re doing quite well.

World Finance: Have there been other challenges that the industry has faced?

Dr Preye Angaye: We’ve had issues relating to capital. When you think of the oil and gas industry, it’s basically a capital intensive business – especially when you think of gas exploration. So capital has actually been an issue, but Century Group has been able to build partnerships – so we usually have pride in our financial capability in handling problems related to capital.

And then there’s also the issue of a skills gap – so there are certain aspects of the oil and gas operations that need some depth of understanding, and we still find out that there are some gaps. But over time we’ve been able to – through partnerships and further training – bridge such gaps. So I think we’re doing pretty well.

World Finance: So how does Century work with clients to deliver value despite those challenges?

Dr Preye Angaye: We’ve always ensured that activities are carried out efficiently, and safety is always the watchword. So most clients walk up to us and ask that a particular thing be delivered; but we go beyond that. We try to understand exactly what they expect of us, and then we see what other add-ons we can bring onto the table – obviously creating opportunities for ourselves. It becomes a win-win situation for both of us.

Karl Harris: Our secret wand remains our people. Through the years we’ve succeeded in engaging people that understand the vision and drive of the company: enabling people, solving problems, and creating value.

World Finance: Now, Century is proudly 100 percent Nigerian – how important is this to you as a company, and to the future of the local industry?

Karl Harris: Well, it’s very, very important. Through the years we consider our humble beginning and where we are track record, you realise that we’ve come a long way. It took a lot of hard work, commitment, integrity. But here we are: we still don’t know yet where we are going, but we have so much more to achieve.

As an African brand, we’re very proud to be 100 percent Nigerian, because we stand as a symbol of possibilities to several other institutions out there in Africa. Like in recent times a Ghanaian exploration company – fully Ghanaian – did major exploration work off the coast, and discovered oil. The first time an African brand is doing that!

Several other companies or brands within Africa have come to realise that there’s no limitation to their dreams; their dreams are valid.

World Finance: And what does the future hold for Century Group?

Karl Harris: A very beautiful future, I must say. The year in focus now, 2019, has been awesome. Within this year 2019 alone, Century Group has made major strides. We’re talking about acquisition of two floating production and storage facilities. One of them is christened Tamara Tokoni, while the other is called Tamara Nanaye. Very Africa, Niger Delta names.

There’s so much more to achieve; we’re looking at in the future the possibility of going public, and inspiring new things.

Dr Preye Angaye: And we’re equally excited that as a company we’ve continued to encourage health and safety. We organise what we call the Health and Safety Summit; that has actually brought a number of other industries outside of oil and gas together, to discuss safety. We actually want to encourage safety to be a lifestyle. It’s our culture, and we want every other firm to think of it as its own culture as well. So, that’s something we hope to carry on with, and to do greater things: to ensure that Century Group is always out there, being international, welcoming investors, and willing to partner with all those who want to move the oil and gas industry forward.

World Finance: Preye, Karl: thank you very much.

Dr Preye Angaye: Thank you.

Karl Harris: Thank you.