Along with Senegal, Mauritania is undoubtedly one of the two countries that has received a great deal of interest from oil and gas investors since the discovery of the massive Grande Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) field that straddles the border between the two countries. Mauritania’s National Oil Company, Société Mauritanienne Des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier (SMHPM), is already very well-known because of the important role it plays both in Mauritania’s oil and gas sector and the well-established and highly prospective mining industry. But there are a number of other players that have equally important projects and who are looking to expand in the near future throughout the MSGBC region. The SKI Group (Société Kerkoub Pour l´Investissement), is one such example.
The SKI Group is active in several areas of the energy value chain in the MSGBC region through a number of subsidiaries that are involved in the storage and distribution of butane gas, as well as logistics and transportation services for the oil and gas industry. As a diversified industrial group, SKI is also involved in cement production, real estate and the bunkering of fishing vessels.
One of the major assets of the SKI Group is RIMGAZ, which is a public limited company and wholly-owned subsidiary of SKI, operating in the import, distribution, marketing, and storage of butane gas. RIMGAZ was created out of the 2009 acquisition of the butane business of TOTAL GAZ Mauritania. RIMGAZ has grown significantly in recent years and is currently a major player in the country’s butane gas industry. RIMGAZ established the first distribution network in the country with 16 operational filling centers in the country and 80 employees. The second stage of the development of RIMGAZ involves expanding storage capacity to 2,745 metric tons (MT), including 2,325 MT in the center of the capital city Nouakchott and 420 MT in the country´s hinterland. RIMGAZ stocks butane bottles from 3-35 kilograms and currently has 25% of the market share in Mauritania.
One of the reasons that RIMGAZ has performed well over the past 12 years is that it has implemented a dynamic commercial strategy, reaching out to customers as well as building filling centers with their own butane-barrel storage facilities. It has also capitalized upon corporate synergies with other subsidiaries of the SKI Group, in particular MKTL, which is a market leader in the transportation of hydrocarbon products in Mauritania. In 2019 RIMGZA launched an ISO certification project, and continues to invest in and expand distribution centers. The objective is not only to grow in Mauritania, but also to reach neighboring countries that have recently signed agreements for butane distribution.
Transportation and logistics are also at the heart of the activity of the aforementioned MKTL, (Mohamed Kerkoub Transport et Logistique). The company specializes in the transport of hydrocarbons and logistics related to aggregates, sands, gravel, shells and rocks. MKTL was established in 1989 and expanded its role into hydrocarbons over the course of 2003. MKTL is present throughout Mauritania´s territory with a fleet of over 40 tanker trucks of varying capacity between 15,000-40,000 tons. The company employs geolocation software that enables it to track tankers in real time, thus optimizing operational efficiency. MKTL has strategically positioned the company as an essential component of the Mauritanian hydrocarbon transport sector spanning multiple cities all the way from Nouakchott to N´Kbeiket Lhwach, as well as from Sélibaby to Bir Umgrein.
The success of MKTL has been attributed to a combination of factors, ranging from strong management to 20 years of expertise in the sector to continued investment in the company’s logistical assets. MKTL’s long track record in Mauritania has enabled it to work with major players and a number of local SMEs involved in distribution. Particularly important for the company’s prospects and regional expansion is that it meets European standards for the transportation of hydrocarbon products. To ensure that utmost quality, health and safety standards are adhered to, MKTL works with French major IOC TOTAL to carry out its inspection of carriers. This includes driver management, vehicle management, trip management and HSEQ management. The results of these stringent audits have been favorable, earning top evaluations (“Green,” a stamp of approval from Total granted to very few transportation companies active in Mauritania).
Building upon the success of SKI Group in Mauritania´s butane and hydrocarbon logistics sector, more recently in 2016, the company expanded activity into Guinea Conakry through Guinea GAZ S.A. The company is active in the storage, distribution and marketing of butane gas in Guinea Conakry. It is contributing towards improving the country’s living standards by supplying butane gas as fuel replacement for coal. Butane is a cleaner burning fuel than coal and as a result, the company is also contributing to the reduction of deforestation linked to coal production. At the core of Guinea Gaz’s operations is the central depot located in Kamsar, which is a modern butane gas distribution depot with a capacity of 1,500 MT, a 200 m3 hydraulic tank, distribution and pressure maintenance system, gas leak detection as well as fire detection systems.
In recent years, GUINEA GAZ S.A. has expanded to 25 mini distribution centers in a continuing effort to make their products available to all of their customers, including those living in remote or rural locations. The aforementioned centers have a storage capacity of 30TM, filling halls, fire safety systems, and a highly experienced management team that previously worked with the company’s subsidiary RIMGAZ in Mauritania. In addition to the benefits of making butane more readily available, the company has played an important role in job creation, with 300 direct and 700 indirect jobs created. Consumers have also gained from the 50% reduction in price that GUINEA GAZ has offered. The authorities in Guinea Conakry have also gained through the contributions to public revenue, in addition to strengthening regional development by diversifying the industrial fabric of the nation.
As the energy sector in the MSGBC region is forecast to grow substantially from 2023-2024 onwards, when the major projects in Mauritania and Senegal come onstream (GTA, SNE and SANGOMAR), there will be a number of opportunities for local companies with a proven track record to deliver top-notch quality in gas distribution and hydrocarbon logistics. For its part, the SKI Group is well positioned to continue increasing its market share in Mauritania, Guinea Conakry and potentially other countries in the MSGBC region.
“After many years of commitment to the development of the country, we are happy to see the SKI Group climb to its current position as a leader in several areas related to national economic activity,” emphasized President of the SKI Group, Mohammed Mahfoud Kerkoub. “Our group has proven experience that will make it available to our potential partners.”
MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2021 will see the strong participation of official delegations from many sub-Saharan African countries, in particular those from the MSGBC sedimentary basin (Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry), as well as other oil- producing countries from West Africa and North Africa, alongside investment partners from Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia.
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