Oluwaseun Oseni

Oluwaseun Oseni

Managing Director, Glenstar Marine Limited and Knots Global Company
Lai Are

Lai Are

Managing Director, Catamaran Group
Nigeria's maritime sector is working on raising its standards and seeking more international partners to reach its full potential.

What is the company involved in?

OLUWASEUN OSENI We run a consortium of companies working together to provide internationally certified and accepted maritime operations and service. Glenstar started in 2015 as the first company to be incorporated and was focused solely on ship-to-ship (STS) transfers of wet cargo. We operated and still operate all along the Gulf of Guinea from Nigeria to Cameroon, Angola, Ghana, and the entire West African area. Whilst gaining major success in the STS space, we decided to branch out into owning our own vessels (tugboats). We subsequently noticed an underutilization of our tugboats, and the Knots Global Company was conceived by employing the brightest minds who ensured 100% utilization of our assets. We now see ourselves as a group, with each part having a different role to play. As a consortium, the plan is to have companies that work together to provide the whole end-to-end (exploration to retail) oil and gas and maritime services. Knots Global currently owns all our assets. At the moment, we have three tugboats and are currently in the process of procuring a 5kt Product Tanker.

How did the pandemic change the company's plans and operational focus?

LAI ARE The pandemic has actually reinforced our plans; the road and maritime sectors were the backbone of movement during the pandemic and have become much stronger. For Catamaran Group, our focus remains strongly on the maritime and road sectors, because those are key areas that will be extremely important as we move forward. Although the maritime sector was briefly affected by the crash in the oil price, this has been increasing consistently. Plus, the maritime sector is not just about petroleum products. Nigeria is a largely import-dependent economy, and the government is spending large amounts on infrastructure. All these things have to come in through the ports. This disruption to the development of infrastructure was unfortunate, though I see it as a one-off issue. We have learnt the lessons from the last disruption, and governments will do everything possible to protect infrastructure moving forward. However, one thing the government has to do is think about establishing social nets.

How have you been able to grow organically?

OO Through professionalism and delivery of efficient services we have been able to scale up, we also have had and still have amazing minds and personnel on all the teams, most importantly we have had an amazing management team who have ensured growth was our main focus. We have won a couple of high profile contracts over the years some stopped and majority of them still ongoing. We started off with STS dealing mainly with international traders and local markets. Because of this synergy, we have gained a lot of international and local exposure. With that in play, it was in our best interests to form relationships with international companies like IOCs and companies in Dubai, the US, and Asia. Today, we have a balanced portfolio of clients. About 70% are international, and 30% are local. It is better for us to have international clients. We are proud to say every dollar that comes to the companies is as a result of the hard work and our esteemed clientele. We are a business that has grown purely organically. We thus far have shown that our services are up to international standards.

There is international interest in Nigeria's maritime sector from global investors. How is Catamaran Group positioning itself to act as a bridge between global investors and Nigeria's maritime and wider transport sector?

LA We are advising on quite a number of port projects, such as the Lekki Port, where we also have a training and simulation center. We are talking to investors and different people who want to come and invest in it, so, we are actively involved in that aspect. We must play an active role in ensuring that investors see Nigeria as an environment where they can invest. Countless opportunities exist here, and we are working both with our local partners and investors internationally to support these transactions. However, you have to ensure the right land is available and the deal goes through the right processes so if anyone looks at the transaction in future it is able to stand the test of time. We envisage a great deal of infrastructure projects happening in roads and maritime in Nigeria post-pandemic. It will be a mix of public- and private-funded developments because the government is much clearer now about how it wants to work and get projects going.