Dr Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi at the Rebranding Dinner for Nestoil

The Beginning – An Unlikely Vision

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – ― Napoleon Hill, The Author of Think and Grow Rich)

I start the Nestoil story from this quote by Napoleon Hill, because ours is a story of impossibility made possible by refusing to let go of a vision even when it seemed that the reality, as at the time of birthing the Nestoil vision, did not fit the grand nature of what it is today.  

I recall our humble beginning from a one-room office at Idumagbo, at a time you could count the number of indigenous businesses offering services in the upstream sector of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry.  We had a vision to grow a value chain linkage across the Oil and Gas industry starting with Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Commissioning services. We started at a time when the Industry was dominated by international service companies who had experience, technical know-how and access to funds which could not be matched by indigenous startups like us. Ours was indeed an audacious vision without corporate muscle, track record or financial wherewithal, yet we chose to believe in that vision, and not only believe in the vision but to fight for that vision and to bring it to pass!

Celebrating a Milestone

Today is a historic day in the life of Nestoil, our flagship brand and the forerunner of the many other brands in what we now know as the Nestoil Group. What you are witnessing today may seem like the unveiling of a mere logo. Ladies and gentlemen, it is much deeper than that. Today carries a lot more significance for me and for the entire Nestoil family. There are a number of celebrations entwined into this singular event. 

First, it is the celebration of focus, determination and vision over despair. As I sat in the audience and watched video after video showcasing the sheer capacity and impact of the companies under the Nestoil umbrella, I could not help but reminisce on how it all began 28 years ago when at no. 17 Idumagbo Avenue, I took the audacious step to incorporate Nestoil Limited. In those days, local content was a mere imagination and indigenous companies who dared to play in the Oil and Gas industry were at the behest of multinational IOCs. This was the situation in 1991 when we dared to dream that one day, Nestoil would be the face of local content in the Oil and Gas industry. With all sense of humility, I am proud to stand before you and proclaim that indeed we have fulfilled that dream. Truly we are the face of local content in the Oil and Gas industry. We have footprints in Dredging, Marine Logistics, Industrial Fabrication, Engineering Design, Civil and Maintenance Engineering, Dry Docking and Exploration and Production. We are active players in the downstream, midstream and Upstream. Our services span across the entire value chain of the Oil and Gas industry. This is the true reason for today’s celebration. While we celebrate the unmistakable, ‘never say die’ Nestoil spirit, we cannot but acknowledge the role a number of you played in seeing us to this day. 

  The comissioning of the The Shell Nembe-Cawthorne Channel Trunkline Replacement Project (NCTL) by Nestoil

We must thank the almighty God, without whom we would not even be here, let alone celebrate anything. Our story is that of divine intervention, protection and grace. We remain eternally grateful to God. 

We specially appreciate the International Oil Companies who gave us an opportunity to work with them and prove our mettle at a time when they were not compelled to work with us as there was no Local Content Law in those days, yet they went beyond the bounds of sentiments and moral suasion to deal with this young local player whose only claim to fame was the proverbial ‘can-do’ spirit. We are glad we did not disappoint you. Even as we today work with the best of the IOCs, hybrid players and other local players in the industry, showing a track-record of performance and raising the bar of local content in our industry, we cannot forget our humble beginning.

For the bankers, I thank you for believing in us then and believing in us now. For without funding, how far could we have travelled with international service companies who had the backing of their head-offices and the financial institutions? Yet you chose to take a gamble on the then small business that chose to swim in a big ocean. I am happy that gamble paid off! That is why today’s celebration is as much yours as it is ours. Thanks for believing in us; we hasten to state that we shall not let you down. It is not yet Uhuru. We are not there yet but with your support, we have no doubt that we shall get there. 

We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the Nigerian government to our success. Enabling legislation such as the Local Content Act and other related policies have fostered the emergence of a number of indigenous players, including Nestoil. Indeed, government institutions, such as the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), NNPC and the DPR, have engendered the spirit of preferential consideration for competent local manpower, equipment and expertise. 

For our partners, customers and business stakeholders, we appreciate the business you give us and your continued belief in our ability to deliver exceptional value. 

Twenty-eight years ago, the Nestoil brand was born, not so much out of necessity but more as a grand vision that saw the need for Africans and indeed Nigerians to play a leading role in the oil and gas ecosystem. So while a lot of others saw this as a tall vision and a pipe dream, we saw an Africa arising from years of dependence on Europe, America and lately Asia for Engineering and Technology solutions, to one that is able to harness and prudently manage her God-given resources using proprietary solutions made by Africans for the world. That was the vision that compelled the birth of Nestoil, that is the vision that still leads our way into the future.

The Search for the Next Frontier – The Journey of a Restless Spirit

Today, we have a respectable presence in the industry from our 59-hectare industrial park in the Niger-delta with over 3000 staff mostly made up of Nigerians. I make bold to say that it has not been easy. No good thing ever came out of the place of comfort. You always have to fight for what you believe in. This is one example for our young ones who are daily being serenaded by the destructive ‘get rich quick’ syndrome which pushes them into all forms of shady businesses. 

  The Nestoil Industrial Area in Abuloma, Port Harcourt in Rivers State

I must say to you today that the only wealth that endures is the one that is painstakingly built. I have been variously accused of being a front to so many persons. The only difference in my case is that I am yet to meet those I am said to be fronting for. Indeed, success has many detractors, but my advice to young men and women here is to please keep your eyes on the ball. 

Of course, again, some say that there can be no great feat without a godfather, and that to make great wealth or business happen, you must be fronting for one big elephant in the form of a politician or even government. Again, this is another wrong notion.  This is not our story. You have seen our story for yourselves today. We remain a responsible brand working in tandem with the government and our host communities. Our vision remains to continue to be a private sector value creator for Nigeria and for posterity. So, our advice is that it is time we begin to think, not just of today but of tomorrow.

So, after 28 years of evolution, of successes and sometimes failures; after so many years of tentative steps and steady steps; we believe it is time to reposition for the challenges that lie ahead. 

The Oil and Gas industry is one with a number of dynamics. There are different catalysts that orchestrate the disruptions in the industry – some we already know; some we are yet to know. However, one thing is clear – it is only companies that are well positioned for inevitable change that will continue to survive. 

What you are about to witness today is the unveil of a new and refreshing brand identity that replicates the dynamism that is inherent in our corporate persona. Today’s exercise is symbolic in many ways. As we unveil a new identity, we are making a fresh commitment to exceed the expectations of stakeholders at all times. 

Today’s unveil of a new corporate identity comes with new vigour to continually deliver exceptional value to you, our most revered stakeholders. Without you, there is no Nestoil. We therefore commit to you today that even as we have delivered value in the past, we shall deliver even more value onwards. 

Thank you for staying the course with us. We look forward to an exciting time of mutually beneficial partnership for the good of the Oil and Gas industry and indeed for our great country, Nigeria. 

Thank you and God Bless!

Dr Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi
Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

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