Despite being part of an extensive global entity, Puma Energy is looking to enable Ghanaians with a fuel service that is locally focused, high quality, low cost, and impeccably delivered
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Josh Hyland
As a global, integrated, midstream and downstream energy giant, Puma Energy unsurprisingly boasts a turnkey service remit comprising the most advanced technologies; but has established a key differentiator in being able to apply these best-in-class solutions to local markets.
Of the 48 global presence points, one such local market is Ghana which the Group entered into in 2006. Capitalising on the country’s status as one of the continent’s leading oil & gas producers and a key midstream location, Puma Energy has subsequently built a repertoire of four terminals, more than 80 retail sites, and almost than 170,000 cubic metres of storage capacity.
Managing Director (MD), Myles Bouvier-Baird introduces: “We first invested in Ghana in 2006 through CBM/SPM (that is, Conventional Buoy Mooring/Single Point Mooring systems) in a build-operate-transfer agreement. Control of this system, which imports more than 80 percent of the nation’s refined petroleum product, was officially handed over to Government in mid-2016.
“Although we’ve been in Ghana for more than 11 years, it’s only in the past couple of years that we’ve become visibly present, following the rebranding of UBI Petroleum to Puma Energy. Since then, we have expanded rapidly to become the fourth largest oil marketing company in the country.”
The Company’s core functions in the present day focus on its distribution capabilities, emphasising downstream operations including retail, B2B, aviation, bunkering, LPG and lubricants. And through its UBI Group affiliation and subsequent link to Blue Ocean Investments – the second largest bulk distribution company in Ghana – midstream operations are also accounted for virtue of the aforementioned, vast storage and terminal assets.
Bouvier-Baird continues: “When we first invested in Ghana, our focus was on offshore mooring systems, enabling the country to import more than 80 percent of its fuel. Also, since rebranding from UBI Petroleum to Puma Energy less than two years ago, we have grown our retail service station network from 16 filling stations to almost 90 so we can provide Ghanaians with access to top quality fuels at an extremely competitive price.”
Meet local demand with global supply
Through Blue Ocean investments, Puma Energy has also invested heavily in jet fuel infrastructure, which has seen the Company’s airport market share grow from zero to more than 60 percent in three years. A bulk LPG storage facility and automated LPG bottling carousel has also been added to the portfolio to affirm this element; and to cement the Group’s current status as a turnkey provider.
In Ghana alone, Puma Energy now supplies products to nine out of 10 regions domestically, while also being present throughout West Africa and even further afield in the Subcontinent.
“Locally, Puma Energy Distribution Ghana Limited is 100 percent owned by the UBI group.UBI Group is made of up two different entities: Blue Ocean Investments which is a bulk distribution company, and Puma Energy Distribution Ghana, an oil marketing company,” Bouvier-Baird explains. “Together, we form a passionate, pioneering and performance-driven Puma Energy that rewards the performance of our agile, efficient, youthful and driven team.
“We never settle and always want to find ways to do more and do better. And most of all, we have fun: work hard; play hard!”
This ethos inevitably has a positive personable influence on project tender processes, in forming mutually beneficial partnerships with clients and contractors alike.
In 2017 alone, the Company resultantly completed the rebranding of almost 40 retail service stations, leveraging its broad supplier network to provide a one-stop shop approach to each project.
“As far as new projects go, Puma Energy looks for opportunities where there is growing demand for petroleum products but supply is somehow limited or restricted,” Bouvier-Baird adds. “Our strategy is to meet local demand with global supply through investments in infrastructure. We already have the supply, so we simply invest in the infrastructure needed to link demand with that supply in countries whose demand is highest.
“We are always looking to grow our various business lines, and 2018 will see us focus particularly on the introduction of LPG through bottle recirculation, along with an aggressive expansion of our lubricants offering in this highly competitive market.”
Investment in infrastructure
Puma Energy Ghana also intends to continue investing in its retail offering via the launch of an exciting convenience partnership and the introduction of a Puma Energy fuel card in partnership with a major bank.
And the investments don’t just revolve around the service offering either, but equally throughout the Company’s internal processes, structure and technologies in order to facilitate its own rapid growth.
“Investment in infrastructure is central to Puma Energy’s business model worldwide. In Ghana, however, Blue Ocean Investments has made significant investments in infrastructure to benefit the industry; especially in the area of product storage,” Bouvier-Baird details. “As the number one customer of Blue Ocean, Puma Energy benefits from the security of supply that Blue Ocean’s 170,000m3 of storage across four depots has; consisting of gasoline, gasoil, JET A1 (aviation fuel) and even LPG. This will help us ensure the safe, swift and reliable supply of petroleum products to our customers at very competitive prices.
“Moreover, Puma Energy has invested millions of dollars into improving the standards of retail filling stations. In Ghana, Puma Energy has taken over, renovated and rebranded more than 30 retail filling stations in 2017 alone, giving Ghanaians improved access to top quality fuel at very low prices. Consumers in Ghana can now use less cash for better quality fuel.”
Blue Ocean Investments has similarly invested in Kotoka International Airport’s fuel storage infrastructure, increasing Ghana’s premier airport’s storage capacity from 1.5 million litres to more than 10 million litres.
Meanwhile, even more internally, on the tech front, Puma Energy has partnered with Ebits, a global refuelling solutions provider, to adopt its online platform, Av.R. across its aviation operations; a solution that will provide the Company with a real-time overview of all transactions to speed up decision-making, processing times and problem solving efficiencies.
“We also now have a terminal management system that is tied in to our order-to-cash process that ensures that every litre lifted from our depots is accounted for and released to the right customer,” the MD adds in reference to administrative improvements. “This enables us to be sure of the specific driver and truck that lifted the product and thus ensures accuracy of invoicing.”
To effectively harness and implement all ongoing investments and projects, Puma Energy has in place a comprehensive human resource strategy which not only emphasises the best person for the job but, where possible, the most socially responsible and localised hiring decision in each case.
“We place a heavy local emphasis on our employment strategy and in Ghana, we have more than 98 percent Ghanaian nationals as staff,” Bouvier-Baird says. “Although we bring global expertise to aid our operations, these are significantly enhanced when combined with brilliant local minds who understand the terrain. The result is highly effective execution. It’s a great synergy of local know-how and global experience that brings about otherwise unreachable results.”
The same philosophy is applied to the Company’s supply chain management strategy, and as Bouvier-Baird notes, by surrounding itself with locally experienced and knowledgeable personnel, Puma Energy is better equipped to foresee and overcome various industry challenges; such as that seen by the downstream market’s recent deregulation in 2015.
He recalls: “It created an increasingly competitive environment which we believe is healthy for both the industry and the consumer; forcing all oil marketing companies to be more efficient with operating costs and to look for ways to integrate themselves to improve product costs.
“Luckily we are ahead of the curve here due to our partnership with Blue Ocean Investments.”
The integrated supply chain achieved through the Blue Ocean Investments partnership ultimately assures not just top quality provision of products – which should be expected of Puma Energy regardless – but at the lowest possible prices.
Bouvier-Baird concludes: “In the future, we would like Puma Energy to be recognised as one of the top oil marketing companies in Ghana, respected by both the consumer and the business customer. We should have an even wider retail network with impressive standards and a growing non-fuel offer; while we also hope to be one of the top suppliers in mining and bunkering.
“We are here to fuel Ghanaian journeys; this is very important to us. Although we’re global, we are dedicated to understanding the Ghanaian market as well as possible, and providing what consumers truly want: high quality fuel at a competitively low cost, and with an impeccable service.”