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Modern technology aids transparency, profitability in downstream operations, energy experts say



Some energy experts on Tuesday asserted that the deployment of modern technology was crucial to improving the value chain of the petroleum downstream sector in Nigeria.

They said the use of equipment such as digital pumps, inventory management, automated tank gauging systems, fleet tracking management and automated payment systems, among others would increase transparency and profitability.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the experts spoke at ongoing 13th Edition of the Oil Trading and Logistics ( OTL Africa Downstream) Conference in Lagos.

They spoke at a session on  “Automation, Digital Transformation and Retail Margins at the Last Mile: Status Report”, which was chaired by Mr Mahmud Tukur, Managing Director, Eterna Plc.

Tukur said the profit was very marginal at the retail end of the downstream operations, hence, business owners should embrace innovation and deployment of modern technology to improve their services.

He said that pump integrity alone was no longer a guarantee for attracting patronage, stressing that automation and less interface with customers at fuel stations was the way to go.

According to him, this will also help business owners to gather data which can be used for business planning and enhancing customer experience.

Also, Sir Billy Okoye, Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Retail Limited, said the oil firm had begun the automation of some of its service stations across the country to reduce corruption.

Okoye noted that there should be government policies, regulations and financial incentives to drive automation due to the huge benefits that it would bring to the industry in future.

Similarly, Mr Abayomi Awobokun, Managing Director, Enyo Trading and Retail Limited, said the deployment of modern technology could increase profit in the retail market to 18 per cent from the current less than five per cent.

Awobokun said his firm had been able to save cost and improve service delivery by deploying technology in some critical areas of operations.

However, Hajia Amina Maina, Chief Operating Officer, MRS Holdings Limited, noted that the greatest challenge to automation was fear of job losses, which could be mitigated through training of staff members.

She said though the process was expensive, it was more profitable in the long run because sales, fleet movement, storage and other operations could be monitored in real time.

Editing by Oluwole Sogunle

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