Driven by a passion to dare the mundane and nurture businesses to fruition, Sahara Group, an African oil and gas, energy and infrastructure conglomerate is constantly desirous of breaking into new frontiers.
Following its establishment in 1996 as the Sahara Energy Resource Limited with expertise in trading of Petroleum products, the company would witness significant growth and diversification culminating in its emergence as a conglomerate with a managing entity called the Sahara Group.
Over the years the Sahara Group established a norm of excellence in its trading of petroleum products and crude oil, storage facilities, retailing of petroleum products, exploration and production activities and infrastructure development. With several operating companies emerging from the Group in barely 17 years, Sahara is an example of continuous development of an organisation with a mission to leave a legacy for all generations.
Today, the Sahara Group has taken its vision of "being the provider of choice where ever energy is consumed" to other continents, extending its trademark operational and service excellence that have become its competitive edge in the jurisdictions where the Group operates.
In 2004, the company expanded its storage operations into Ghana, becoming the first petroleum marketer to build and operate tankage in the country. Its present 45,000MT facility revolutionized the Ghanaian market and opened up the industry for independent marketers to build and operate storage there. In 2006 the company participated in the bid round for the privatization of the LPG terminal in Nigeria and was selected as the preferred bidder. In 2012, the storage business expanded into Cote d’Ivoire and continues to grow with total capacity of over 200,000MT by the middle of the decade.
So Aviation, one of the Sahara Group companies is a frontline player in the aviation sector where it has the record of being the first indigenous company to fuel commercial airlines as well as the presidential air fleet.
Buoyed by the global ISO 9001.2008 certification, So Aviation continues to lead the market with quality products and services that are widely acknowledged within the local and international markets.
In line with the need to diversify its interests, the company also took advantage of the indigenization program of the upstream sector by participating in the marginal field bid rounds in 2000.
Sahara participated actively in the bid and was awarded the Tsekelewu Field as Operator in partnership with AOG. The success in winning the marginal field became the platform to develop upstream competence to seek and acquire additional assets to build a robust portfolio.
The company participated in subsequent bid rounds held in Nigeria thereafter and won five additional blocks in the process, three of which were deep offshore blocks for which BG Group farmed in and partnered with Sahara to develop. Taking the same view of growth outside of Nigeria, the company also acquired one asset in Ghana to add to its portfolio.
Other areas of expansion saw the Group make bullish investments into developing retail fuel stations in Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast, emerge as key equity partner in the Western Franchise of the Nigerian Gas Master plan as well as equity holder in the refinery in Cote d’Ivoire.
Enageed Resource Limited, the Group's upstream affiliate has earned the record of one million man-hours loss time injury (LTI) free on the ongoing additional 126 square km seismic acquisition on OPL 274.
After shooting the first onshore 3D seismic, the company's drilling activities have yielded Sahara Group’s first oil discovery. Tests were carried out on the first well and it recorded rates in excess of 5600 barrels of oil per day/per well. It is estimated to have the capacity to produce about 20,000 bpd by 2015. This feat, achieved by an African independent firm portends a promising future for the nation.
Today, Sahara Group has made an audacious entry in the power sector through the acquisition of strategic power assets. The acquisition was realised under the privatisation programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria which recently led to transfer of former PHCN assets to private investors.
Working through a number of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV), Sahara successfully acquired majority shareholding stakes in two (2) of the PHCN assets in the privatization exercise by the Nigerian Government, namely Egbin Power Plc - the largest Power Generation Plant in Nigeria - and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (Ikeja Electric) - the largest power distribution network in Nigeria.
In addition, Sahara also acquired 70% of First Independent Power Company Limited (FIPL), while the Rivers State Government retains a 30% stake in the entity. This acquisition reinforces the quest of the Sahara Power to enhance its competitive advantage and footprints in the sector, whilst looking to deliver world-class power solutions in Nigeria and ultimately, offshore.
Working with the Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) as technical partners, Sahara is committed to delivering efficient, affordable and sustainable power supply in the nearest future through investments in new technology, infrastructure upgrade and human capital development.
Already, Egbin and Ikeja Electric are currently undergoing transformative initiatives that would change the face of power generation and distribution in Nigeria and subsequently, the entire African continent.
The vision which is to provide adequate power to the citizens, promote entrepreneurship and foster accelerated economic growth and development is very much alive with the innovativeness, dynamism and continuing investments in Egbin and Ikeja Electric.
Before long, the vision will expand to exporting power outside the shores of Nigeria using the best possible technology and expertise.
The Sahara Group's foray into the power sector is another major step for an organisation that is committed to the pursuit of new frontiers. The next puzzle would be to figure out the next quest for this enterprising group which barely 20 years into its existence continues to seek opportunities to nurture and perfect business opportunities