Oryx Energies Uganda is looking to consolidate its position as a top three player in the Ugandan downstream petroleum sector by mixing international clout with a small-company ethos
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Josh Hyland
As one of Africa’s largest and longest-standing independent providers of oil & gas products and services, it could be expected and even forgiven that Oryx Energies would flourish as a continental heavyweight; but in reality, the supplier and distributor continues to thrive as one of the most locally-conscious players in the market.
In no other presence point is this more apparent than in Uganda, where its sourcing and storing of products further affirms its position as a business able to act locally, and with a small company mindset. Serving consumers, businesses and maritime operations in the country – and indeed across the wider sub-Saharan African region – the African arm of the Swiss-owned Group can now look to optimise this established presence on an even more concerted scale in the future.
“Majority-owned by private investment group, AOG, Oryx Energies is present today in more than 20 sub-Saharan countries, and has been responding to the evolving energy needs of the region for almost 30 years,” introduces Uganda Country Manager, Peter Businge. “Our reputation as a professional and reliable business partner is anchored in our fully-integrated downstream model that enables us to control the full value chain from sourcing products on the open market (through our trading arm), to strategic storage and distribution to end consumers.
“In Uganda specifically, Oryx Energies initiated in November, 2012 through the total acquisition of Engen Uganda Limited. Since then we have continued to grow our foothold in Uganda with big plans ahead in establishing ourselves as a strong market player in this industry.”
The full spectrum of products entails refined petroleum offerings across petrol, diesel and kerosene; as well as own-brand lubricants, Axcella and Enduro; and even LPG products for cooking, heating and lighting.
Businge continues: “We also sell HFO (heavy furnace oil) and bitumen and through this portfolio, we would like to inform all our current and future customers that we as Oryx Energies are committed to Uganda as a market, in bringing new efficiencies to them as our customers.
“We shall continuously engage with them and would like to show our appreciation for the support they have given thus far in making Oryx Energies what it has become today in Uganda.”
Stamp the Oryx Energies name
Epitomising this dedication to national enrichment and saturation is its 11 retail stations across the central and eastern areas of the country, with footprint expansion an ongoing drive.
And matching every geographical improvement is an equally significant enhancement of Oryx Energies’ product range, as Businge explains: “The main growth focus of products has been on diesel and petrol due to the growth of the manufacturing sector in Uganda as well as the increase in passenger vehicles.
“In addition, being a highly agricultural country, we have seen the agricultural sector as another major driving force for diesel consumption. We also see a tremendous growth in LPG consumption with an average of six percent growth year-on-year due to the increase in urbanisation.”
Such innovation and continuous improvement has been rewarded in turn by a plethora of key contracts over the past five years; leveraging key skills and a refined management structure to achieve high levels of personability.
“Our major contracts are in the construction, manufacturing and power generation sectors, and we continuously take part in all tenders in that regard as we continue to stamp the Oryx Energies name on the Ugandan market,” Businge continues. “That being said, 2017 has been a year of consolidation of what we have, trying to reach full optimisation of all the Company’s current assets.
“We believe that has now been achieved and our main focus in 2018 will be expansion so as to spread our retail and commercial footprint in the Ugandan market.”
The best results
Differentiation inevitably derives from product quality and enhanced geographical reach, but also stems from Oryx Energies’ ability to find niches in the market, and small nuances that differ from the existing market offering.
One recent example alludes to the potential of entering the fuel card sector, where the Company is looking at meeting the needs of customers that are not yet being met by competitors. Superior supply chain management monitoring across its sites is also set to compound this commitment to diversification.
On the personnel side, Oryx Energies utilises reputable human resource firms to initiate recruitment procedures before the Company adds a more bespoke and company-specific element to finding the correct skills.
“Because we know that people are core to our success, hiring is an activity we take our time on so as to get the best results,” Businge notes. “Attitude of the prospective employee, teamwork, experience and learning ability are some of the key attributes we look for.”
Once again addressing notions of localisation, the focus then turns to employing as many indigenous artisans as possible in each location – in this case, Uganda – and this is aided by a series of internship programmes and affiliations with local universities so as to impart relevant skills and to develop the talent pool more sustainably.
Additionally, the aforementioned aspect of supply chain management takes on a similarly local dynamic, this time on a regional level.
“Our strategy is to cluster supply chain management with our other affiliates in Kenya and Tanzania as well as with support from our head office in Geneva,” Businge details. “This opens up avenues for economies of scale which we leverage as a subsidiary, and ultimately as a Group.
“Our approach is to consolidate as a regional block of East Africa as opposed to struggling as an individual subsidiary. This enables us to tap into and utilise all of the Group’s resources optimally, thereby leading to substantial gains.”
Adaptability, principles and flexibility
Ultimately, by honing and mastering internal facets, and by perfecting the global structure for the good of each local subsidiary, Oryx Energies is better placed to react to industry trends and to capitalise when certain opportunities arise.
In the African oil & gas domain, this ability is of course critical, but when taking into account peripheral upstream and construction fluctuations as well, the need raises another notch.
“Case in point is the impact of the inland refinery on the supply chain direction as this will significantly change how our supplies are procured,” Businge offers as an example. “However, Oryx Energies is defined by its multinational capability, yet small company execution; and this means that while we have the multinational muscle to fully compete with the Ugandan market, we do so as efficiently as a smaller business.”
The reduced bureaucracy and red tape results in a more streamlined approach to projects and market penetration, while also speeding up project completion times and ultimately ensuring enhanced satisfaction among the Company’s customers.
Businge concludes: “This is epitomised by our values of adaptability, principles and flexibility and looking forward we expect to leverage these values to consolidate our position as one of the Ugandan downstream petroleum sector’s top three players; achieving top position in one or two products, and with a much greater nationwide presence overall.”