GOING BIG

Mozambique 2016 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Simone Volpi, Managing Director of Orlean Invest, on expanding into Mozambique, working on the largest real estate project in Africa, and upcoming exciting projects for the company.

Simone Volpi
BIOGRAPHY
Simone Volpi studied at American College (Franklin College) in Lugano Switzerland and graduated with a degree in international management in 1996. He obtained his master’s degree in integrated logistics at the Università Degli Studi Di Genova, graduating in 2002. After joining the Orlean Invest Group, he was posted to Angola, where he started his career as a commercial coordinator. After one year he was sent to Nigeria, where he has remained ever since. He has been the Managing Director of Orlean Invest since 2010 and is a naturalized citizen of Nigeria.

How does Orlean Invest plan to expand in Mozambique?

We started a new project in Mozambique establishing a joint venture with DNH, the local LFS, to construct the Pemba oil and gas terminal to support exploration and production activities. This project is about to begin and represents an investment of $150 million for the first stage. We hope to somehow replicate our business model from Onne, Nigeria, in Mozambique in the coming five to 10 years though this will be subject to market requirements. In Pemba we know the first phase should be ready by the end of 2016 because the new drilling campaign for Eni will start at the end of the year or early 2017.

In the past, Orlean has concentrated on Nigeria. Do recent expansions to new markets represent a change in strategy?

These new initiatives mark a departure for us. Until a year ago we concentrated our efforts on Nigeria because it is our main market but then our board of directors decided to continue expanding. Mozambique is considered the new “El Dorado." If you look at prices today in Mozambique, they are huge in terms of values, but still cannot be compared with Nigeria. These are two very different markets. Mozambique may be larger than Nigeria in 10 to 15 years, but not at the moment.

In Nigeria, Intels, under Orlean Invest, is investing in Eko Atlantic, one of the largest real estate projects in Africa. What are Intels' plans for this undertaking?

We have started phase one, which involves constructing the first three buildings. These are slated for completion by year-end 2017, and each will have on average of 220 two-bedroom apartments. We remain flexible on the number of apartments that we will put on the market as they are subject to client requests. Customers may look for anything between a one to four-bedroom apartment. We anticipate market demand being mostly for two-bedroom apartments. Our plan is to complete the entire 45 hectares and build a complete camp inside the Eko Atlantic area. To maintain a certain level of output, we need investments in the country for infrastructure. Additional investment will be come in by the beginning of the next year, subject to market trends, of course.

What are some of Intels' other major projects?

In Lagos we are involved in the construction of the Badagry deep sea port, which is located 16km outside the city on the way to Benin. We formalized a consortium comprised of Orlean, Oando, APMT, Maersk, and the Mediterranean Shipping Company, and Grimaldi will likely join us well. The idea is to build a new 16m draught mega port with specialized terminals. We will use Maersk, APMT, and Mediterranean Shipping Company for containers and container terminals, and, if there is need for an oil tank farm depot, we can go through Orlean. Intels can be used for shore-based facilities. Port Harcourt is in a far better position to support the industry compared to Lagos. One never knows, however. If there are significant finds close to Lagos, an oil tank farm depot could be necessary. Besides that, we are likely to be involved in the new Lekki International Airport, a project followed and managed by the Chagoury Group. The project is likely to kick off in 2016.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

We hope in 2016 to see an increase in activity and the continued approval of projects. The country requires significant infrastructure development to enable the utilization of gas in the domestic market, as well as the generation of electricity.