Sahara Group, a leading international energy and infrastructure conglomerate with operations in over 38 countries across Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia, has begun the negotiation process to acquire Total’s stakes in refineries located in three African countries.
Sahara Group is interested in Total’s stakes in refineries located in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. There are also plans to take a controlling stake in Zambia’s only refinery.
The Co-Founder and Executive Director of Sahara Group, Tope Shonubi, who spoke at the sidelines of the African Refiners Association conference in Cape Town, said the move is part of an expansion process that will see the stake of Sahara Group increase in the countries’ refineries.
Shonubi revealed that an investment in infrastructure is imperative and Sahara intends to upgrade these countries’ refineries, all of which predominantly run on Nigerian crude.
According to Shonubi, “the market has changed now, from your traditional typical trading (house), now you have to invest in infrastructure and provide some sort of finance. The market has evolved. You cannot just trade alone. There must be added value”.
He added that “our objective is to upgrade all these refineries. It is strategic for us to be shareholders; it is strategic to ensure that because of our participation in the value chain and both in the crude supply and in products we have to make sure we maximise what we are doing”.
Sahara Group has less than a 10 percent stake in the 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and the 27,000 bpd refinery in Dakar, Senegal. The company is also in talks to acquire 70 percent stake in the 25,000 bpd Indeni refinery from the Zambian Government, a deal likely to be completed in the coming months.
Total owns a 19.71 percent interest in Sonara, Cameroon’s only refinery, a seven percent stake in the Societe Africaine de Raffinage refinery in Senegal, and has a 20 percent holding in Societe Ivoirienne de Raffinage, which owns and operates Cote d’Ivoire’s sole refinery in Abidjan.
Shonubi noted that a bigger and more effective regional market awaits African countries if they should adopt unified standards across the continent. He said the move will enhance Africa’s competitive positioning in global energy markets.