Fuelling Development in the DRC
Thanks to its young, dynamic team and ambitious leadership, LEREXCOM PETROLEUM is ready to supply fuel to enterprises across the Democratic Republic of Congo
Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Donovan Smith
It is safe to suggest that the world would not be where it is today without petroleum.
Refined crude oil has shaped societies in a huge variety of ways, powering industrial development and mobility ever since the successful drilling of the first oil wells in Ontario, Canada, back in 1858.
However, not all parts of the world have fully exploited the transformational benefits on offer.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the industry is primed for development, something which local operator LEREXCOM PETROLEUM (LP) is helping to accelerate.
“Working in the petroleum space in DRC is exciting and challenging at the same time,” comments Wilfrid Kilinda, the company’s Managing Director. “The sector is in need of development, as many parts of the country don’t have access to petroleum products because of a lack of infrastructure.
“We are ready for roads and other industries to grow, and will respond to any situation put in front of us.”
LP was founded in 2017 by entrepreneur Jean Lengo, Chairman and CEO of the Ledya Group, which has LEREXCOM PETROLEUM under its umbrella of companies.
“This is one of many great achievements for our Executive Chairman,” adds Kilinda. “He has a vision of promoting young generations and creating jobs. He took the risk of investing in a sector that was newly liberalised, and LP is the first company that took advantage of this development in the DRC.”
Today LP stands as a leading private fuel logistics company dealing with storage and distribution of petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel.
It operates out of two terminals – one with a storage capacity of 36,000 cubic metres near Matadi, the chief seaport in the country, and another in the industrial zone of Maluku, in Kinshasa, with a storage capacity of 22,000 cubic metres.
LP serves both suppliers and distributors of fuel. These include clients which bring tankers to its facilities and companies which operate refilling stations or consume petroleum products for their own operations. Kilinda also reveals that the company currently has 210 direct employees on its books.
“Both our terminals are designed to cater to a much-needed increase in fuel imports, imports which need to reach a level more in line with the increase of demand expressed in the western part of the country,” Kalinda explains. “LP has its own truck fleet and can deliver products to Kinshasa, Matadi, Kisangani, Ilebo and beyond – we are ready to go everywhere as long as the road is accessible, or the water is navigable.”
Kilinda, despite spending more than four decades in the industry, entered the world of petroleum by chance.
He is an economist by education, sending his resume to various companies – one of them was an oil refinery firm called SOCIR, which called him in for an interview and test in Muanda, on the coast of the DRC.
“From there I was selected and started working as an intern, and slowly went up the job ladder all the way to the position of Refinery Director, a position I held for 14 years,” Kilinda recalls.
“I retired from SOCIR after 39 years of wonderful experience in the petroleum industry, but I wasn’t finished.
“Looking forward to giving back knowledge and knowhow to younger generations, I decided to accept the call from Jean Lengo, who wanted me to be in his new company as an Operations Director. After the former Managing Director left, the Board of Directors of LP assigned me as their replacement, which is where I am today.”
Building a bright future
Kilinda now leads a young and very dynamic team of employees, people who drive an innovative approach to business and openness to technology adoption which stands LP apart in the field.
Around nine in 10 staff are young, most of them being DRC nationals, with development of local talent a big priority for LEREXCOM PETROLEUM and its management.
In terms of service delivery, the company prides itself on being completely non-discriminant, in that each client is given equal treatment and attention to detail, no matter the requirement. LP also boasts the best tanker offloading rate in the entire country, with a capacity to offload 1,000 cubic metres per hour.
Such delivery requires a commitment to invest in state-of-the-art technology.
“LEREXCOM PETROLEUM brought innovation into the industry in our country,” Kilinda adds. “In terms of technology, LP uses a tremendous level of automation which helps us in measurement accuracy, data digitisation and recording, terminal management, equipment control and supervision, process monitoring and security.
“We use also GPS monitoring, which allows us to ensure our trucks are where they should be, and when they should be there. This further helps us avoid thefts and deters illegal behaviour by employees.”
Indeed, the company’s fleet will only get busier as the country continues to develop its road infrastructure, vital activity which will help to connect the remoter communities of the DRC.
In anticipation of this growth in activity, LEREXCOM PETROLEUM is embarking on expansion of its two depots, something which fuels the Managing Director with excitement.
“It is extremely important for us because we believe that the industrial sector is going to develop, and that means the need for our products will grow as well,” Kilinda adds. “We want to be ready when that time comes in order to supply even the small and distant towns in the country.”
Such growth will also enable LP to impart a greater impact on DRC society in the form of corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Although still a young organisation, it has ambitious plans to become a social custodian, Kilinda outlining exciting plans to promote youth sports and provide freshwater to local communities, the company already helping in the fight against COVID-19 by producing and distributing masks to the people of Kinshasa.
And the Managing Director is optimistic about reaching the necessary commercial targets in order to do this. Highlighting a recent major breakthrough, he concludes the conversation in confident mood.
“Our former challenge was to be incorporated in the government’s official price structure, as the price of fuel is regulated by the state,” he says.
“It became apparent that it was the best route to work normally among other logistics companies in the country without being treated like pariahs. It was difficult for us to get in the structure, but we recently succeeded thanks to the objective implication of the governing authorities.
“Now, we are projecting to reach a minimum volume of 10,000 metric tonnes of delivery per month. We need oil to develop the country, and this means bringing energy to all corners of the DRC and making life better. Since energy comes with petroleum, it is our role to insure the supply of product nationwide.”