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Oil and gas: Morocco’s Akwa Group and Chevron take on Africa

By El Mehdi Berrada, in Casablanca
Posted on Tuesday, 3 December 2019 11:13

Afriquia has 560 service stations across Morocco. © Michel Teuler

Thirteen years on from their Afriquia Lubrifiants joint venture in 2006, Akwa Group and Chevron are strengthening their partnership and plan to expand in francophone Africa. Talks are in progress in Morocco to establish retail agreements in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire.

Morocco-based Akwa Group and the American global oil and gas major Chevron celebrated the 13th anniversary of their partnership last Wednesday in Casablanca.

The two energy corporations are strengthening their initial alliance formed in 2006. This created the joint venture Afriquia Lubrifiants, in which Akwa Group held a 75% stake.

A few weeks ago, the US major raised its capital in the enterprise, taking its stake to 50% and an even 50-50 split with its Moroccan partner. “Our partnership has strengthened over the years we’ve been working together. [The capital increase] will allow us to raise our standards and create new businesses”, said Adil Ziady, managing director of the fuels and lubricants division of Akwa Group, whose core shareholder is the Akhannouch family.

Ambitions have also been extended, as the new roadmap sets out new goals for the joint venture, both locally and internationally. Previously, Afriquia Lubrifiants could only produce Chevron’s mid-range lubricants. Going forward, the company will also be able to manufacture premium lubricants locally.

Afriquia Lubrifiants looks to expand in Africa

“We are very pleased to have the freedom to integrate the entire Chevron range into local production. They own all the technology,” said Mustapha Miri, managing director of Afriquia Lubrifiants. Chevron’s high-quality base oils will be incorporated into production in Morocco through products that meet global auto manufacturing standards and new environmental regulatory requirements.

In addition, the new roadmap outlines an expansion plan to sub-Saharan Africa.

Fourteen countries are specifically targeted, covering North Africa, Central Africa and West Africa:

  • Algeria;
  • Cameroon;
  • Côte d’Ivoire;
  • Burkina Faso;
  • Togo;
  • Tunisia;
  • Senegal;
  • Niger;
  • Mauritania;
  • Mali;
  • Guinea;
  • Benin;
  • Gabon;
  • Democratic Republic of Congo.

Operations have already been launched in five of the above-listed countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Togo and Niger). “We want to draw up agreements with local retailers and the overall potential has been tentatively estimated at 600,000 tonnes per year in these countries. Our partners from Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire are currently in Morocco to negotiate the clauses of the future partnership”, indicated Miri.

“We have prioritised certain countries where we would like to become leaders quickly, such as Senegal, Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia,” added Ali Redouane, Europe/Middle East business development and projects manager at Chevron Lubricants.

An African machine oil hub

To back the export of premium formulas, the subsidiary plans to build a platform for shipping premium base oils to North and West Africa. “The platform is under construction in Jorf Lasfar as we speak and will be brought on stream in 2020,” added Adil Ziady.

The hub will comply with Chevron’s standards and create 120 jobs. It is also expected to give the joint venture a wide range of logistical flexibility: Afriquia Lubrifiants will be able to accommodate large-capacity carriers and export ISO tank containers and flexitanks. The hub will be connected to the dock via two pipelines, whose construction has been awarded to Salub, a subsidiary of Akwa Group.

Afriquia owns a network of 560 service stations throughout Morocco, which gives it a total market share of 35% and the country’s largest storage capacity, with 980,000 cubic metres across Morocco. “Our new strategy with Chevron couldn’t arrive at a better time, just as our company is looking to expand in Africa,” Ziady said.

This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique.

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