Rapu: Shaping The Sirius Dream Into An Economic Behemoth
TONY Rapu is a shrewd businessman with the midas touch. And the reason is simple: every sphere he forays, he makes a success of it.
In his few years of venturing as an entrepreneur, he has succeeded in establishing and managing a chain of business that have now formed the Sirius Group of Companies. Yet, he is not resting on his oars; he is breaking new grounds.
His conglomerate, the Sirius Group of Companies, spectrums such sections of the nation’s economy as oil and gas, energy, power generation, real estate, shipping and financial services. It is also expanding into other countries, with branches sprouting with marked drive. This perhaps, explains why some have even referred to it as one of 21st century fastest growing conglomerate.
For the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the group, Rapu, what has today grown into an oak tree, started as petrol marketing company with the name, Sirius Energy Resources. At the time, it had a mandate to supply the Nigeria government and some of the big multinationals such as Mobil and Chevron.
Rapu holds a degree in Estate Management from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and a Masters in supply Chain Management from University of Liverpool. England. He began his career as the Managing Director of G-Eurafic Limited.
While working there, Rapu was fixated on disversifying beyond the energy sector. His determination led him to explore the local content act that was passed to analyse the possibility of being a part of the oil service industry.
“We are also going to start operations within the oil and gas manufacturing industry in order to be able to provide locally- built components and facilities for refineries, platforms and ships. These components will be manufactured at a factory yard that we have acquired recently, from which our products can be shipped to other countries in the region,” he said.
Rapu is also keen on company growth in terms of expansion. Currently, he is expanding the group and now operates in six African countries – Nigeria, Republic of Niger, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Equatorial Guinea. “Our main focus is to build on our presence in these countries. In addition, we purchase products from refineries in Ivory Coast and Dubai. On a different note, in terms of short-term goals, we want to expand our hydrocarbon base.
Through his effort to gain more ground for new businesses, the company recently won an oil exploration license for Grein Bloc in the Northwest region of Republic of Niger. The company emerged one of the five companies that were successful in a recent bid for oil blocs in the country.
The Grein Bloc, which lies roughly between latitudes 190and 210 North longitude100 and 110 East, covers an area measuring approximately22,020sq km.
The Bloc falls within the Cretaceous-Territory west Africa Rift System,which is believe to extend 4,000km from Gao trough in Mali to the Anza basin in Kenya. It consists of deep narrow grabens filled with Cretaceous to tertiary sediments with thickness reaching at times 12,000 meters.
It is also discovered that the Grein is bordered on the west by the Tenere bloc, owned by a China National Petroleum (CNPC), and estimated to have between one billion to three billion barrels of probable oil reserves of 500mn barrels of oil and 10bcm of natural gas, and is also being exploited by CNPC.
With this, the company is mindful of its social responsibilities to avoid the repeat of the experience of oil multinational companies in Nigeria, which explains the reason why Sirius Group is developing a programme of action to build school, give Scholarship and provide portable water for the host communities.
The countries that are just discovering oil now have learnt from the mistake of Nigeria, thereby making the local Content and Social Corporate responsibilities laws.
“We have a field in Niger that is currently capable of producing about 460 million barrels, which includes gas and other products with 105 barrels of oil as well as a daily production of 2000barrel per-day.”
In terms of production, Rapu said that the company intends to complete a process soon with the Chinese partners so that the 2000barrel per day can be realized. “As at today, on the oil block development, there are government obligations that needs to be met so that we proceed to field development part of which is a programme in the partnership and with the war in Mali and the issues in the North. Most of the western countries we had partnership with are not comfortable with the situation in Niger Republic because the oil bloc is located between Mali and Niger Republic which affected the early exploration, especially Vikins exploration but unfortunately, they all withdrew at a point because their government made them to understand that Niger is prone to risks.”
Presently, the company is talking to a couple of Chinese companies who produce there and there are ongoing discussions to work out 60 per cent of the deal to them so that they can actually develop the field.
On the issue of environment hazards that will arise as a result of the exploitation in the region, Rapu said a standard assessment of the place had been carried out by a team of experts, and that the company has put in place adequate measures to prevent such.
Like any other business, he started small in Victoria Island but grown to become one of the 21st century emerging leaders in the oil and gas sub-sector of the economy.
At a time when scores of Nigerians eloped to foreign countries for greener pasture, he conceptualized the brand “Sirius” which has now become a conglomerate with local content background.
The story of Tony Rapu is a testimony of a Nigerian who has weathered the storm to achieve much in the sector with the ideal to open more windows of opportunities for business with the motive to improve on the economy of the nation as well as that of ordinary Nigerians as a whole.
In the next five years, Rapu intends to acquire more fields to be able to achieve production of one hundred million barrels per year, with a daily gross production of about 150,000 barrels from all acquired fields.
In order to achieve this, he reckons the company must gain more recoverable assets in Nigeria and other countries in which it has strong presence.
Rapu yet yearns for more. His group has plans afoot to buy an Indian concern that currently produces 3 per cent of the drilling pipes used worldwide. Sirius has an opportunity to buy 70 per cent of the company, which will allow it to bring the African market closer to Asia.
In terms of the downstream industry, the company is developing a port facility at the Lekki Free Trade Zone, a long–term project that will allow international traders to stock products and distribute them as well as help to gain greater control of trade within the petroleum industry in West Africa.
However, the company has established a 700 million-dollar project in Lekki area of Lagos in collaboration with the Southern Africa Shipyards to build a world-class Ship in Nigeria. This investment will indeed improve the economy of Nigeria and increase Lagos State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Also on this project, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a company called Southern African Shipyard with the record to have built the largest Naval Ship in Durban.”
The Sirius Managing Director notes that most Ship repairs are usually done outside the country, all of which can actually be done in our country with a turn over that will help the economy at large.
According to him, Southern African Shipyard is Africa’s leading commercial and naval shipbuilder and ship repair company, which provides cost effective services and solutions to the Maritime industry worldwide, equipped with key facilities and specialized technical expertise with capacity to undertake the entire works spectrum of in-voyage and port repairs on all vessels. With this development, the unemployment rate in Nigeria will gradually reduce.
Rapu does not seem too happy that foreign investments in the country have in the past been dwindled by its foreign policy implementation. For him, one of the main barriers to foreign investment in Nigeria is the apparent reputation the country has.
To overcome this challenge, the company has established a holding company in Dubai and an office in London to give confidence to foreign partners. “These regions have laws that govern MOUs and agreements, thus we observe partnerships and relationships based on international standards,” he said.
A stickler for excellence, Rapu is bent on proving to the world that successful world-class companies can also have roots in Africa. “My dream is to be able to change the perceptions that people have of this continent and help them understand the change that we can bring to the world. I will probably not experience the effect of this change. It will certainly take time, but it will happen.”
The Sirius Boss believes for Nigerian economy to improve, there is need for Small and Medium Scale enterprises to be the focus. “Right from my University years, I had the notion of running my business. Being where I am today didn’t come by surprise. I had always known I would succeed in life. Even if I am the Managing Director of Shell today, I will resign and float my own business because running into business trouble and coming out of it, makes me stronger.
Passionate about Nigeria having steady power, Sirius is constructing a 600MW power plant in Niger republic, with plants to service the Republic of Niger, Burkina Faso and that of Nigeria.
“We are also developing two additional IPPs (Independent Power Producers) for some distribution companies who are not getting sufficient power from electricity generation companies, we intend to bridge that gap and provide them with the power that they need,” he says.