Baywood Continental Ltd was established in 1989 as a procurement company which later moved into engineering and construction. Today, the company occupies an enviable frontline position in the oil and gas sector. Chris Baywood Ibe, a widely successful entrepreneur, is the man behind the success story of the company and the President/CEO .
Your company, Baywood Continental Limited is one of the leading companies in the energy sector, what is your assessment of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria and globally?
It is a dynamic and exciting sector which offers tremendous challenges but also presents significant value to stakeholders. This sector is the bedrock of our national economy and it is therefore extremely imperative that the necessary support is provided to maximize stakeholder participation and benefits.. Obviously, the West African region is the most significant player in terms of production and investment where both local and international energy, oil and gas companies are instituting different initiatives to continue to develop the sector. On a global level, by the close of last year, oil and gas deals in the E&P sector had reached over 73 billion dollars and so from a global perspective all the key indicators suggest that there will be growth and stability in this sector. For example, the prestigious Fitch Ratings suggests that in Asia, the outlook is quite positive based on the expectation that indigenous companies would continue to benefit from government policy reforms and adequate funding support from the financial sector. On the European stock market, share prices for energy companies have very encouraging prospects this year as a result of high demand in emerging markets. Overall, most oil and gas sector companies across the globe are embarking upon significant construction of their capital-intensive upstream, midstream and downstream projects.
What should be the scale of the involvement of Government in this key sector?
I am of the opinion that Government’s primary accountability should be to have oversight functions with the additional responsibility for creating an investor- friendly business climate to ensure that indigenous players are supported to become more relevant and competitive. Furthermore, a higher level of consistency in the regulatory policies would allow for greater stability and long-term planning, which is a critical requirement of this sector owing to the maturation period of most projects . Accordingly, Government should introduce and sustain policies and legislation that will upgrade specific and overall aspects of this sector which will result in corresponding value benefits to the country. Another major issue is funding because by the very nature of the projects, they are extremely capital-intensive and we look forward to a more harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship with the banking sector. Indigenous companies can be supported to become more competitive through adequate funding.
Sir, what are your views on the Oil and Gas local content initiative?
I recall the declaration of the Federal Government, that all regulatory authorities, operators, contractors, sub-contractors, alliance partners and other entities involved in any project, operation, activity or transaction in the Nigerian oil and gas industry shall consider Nigerian content as an important element of their overall project development and management philosophy for project execution. Indeed, the Federal Government and the Upper House must be applauded for this most laudable step because it would move the sector in the right direction and also achieve accelerated growth and development. It is essential to harness and galvanize indigenous resources and intellectual capabilities so that Nigeria will achieve a quantum leap in this sector. We sincerely hope for an effective implementation because of the intrinsic benefits such as job creation which is a key metric for gauging national economic growth, enhance capacity building and sharpen the competitiveness of indigenous companies in this sector. A few years ago, I was part of a special taskforce constituted by the Presidency to undertake a global evaluation of the oil and gas sector with specific reference to Brazil. It was extremely insightful and illuminating because we were able to profile how Brazil developed into a world leader in deepwater exploration. I am confident that we have everything required here in Nigeria to compete with Brazil or indeed any country that is a global player in this sector.
As a respected voice in the sector, could you share your views about the Petroleum Industry Bill and why the protracted delay in passing it?
The Petroleum Industry Bill has the capacity to achieve significant reforms in the energy sector in Nigeria. The benefits to the players and also to the national economy is immeasurable. We can only appeal that this Bill is given top priority and implemented without further delay. I am sure all stakeholders and relevant parties are in full collaboration to achieve success in this regard.
What is Baywood’s current status in the sector and how has your company navigated the complex business terrain in Nigeria?
The initial thrust of our business operations when we started was procurement but as time went on, we reviewed our organizational strategies and began to evaluate other options available to the company. That was how we eventually became involved in the oil and gas services sector and today, we are at the vanguard of the sector and a key player. Right from the beginning, we were able to inspire the trust and confidence of our clients about our organizational capabilities and so there was a steady flow of patronage which helped us to position ourselves very well to maximize the opportunities in our operating environment. Over time, as the company grew in terms of revenue and clientele, we instituted and embedded systems, processes and procedures in the company, a comprehensive overhaul that really positioned us for the leadership status Baywood Continental Ltd has achieved in our sector.
How is Baywood Continental different from others in the sector?
We have an unwavering commitment to world-class service standards and that is the foundational philosophy which undergirds all our business operations as a company. We as an organization are passionate about quality service to all our clients and we like to always imprint the Baywood mark of excellence in every project we have ever executed. That is one of the elements which has created a distinctive organizational brand for us as a company because all our clients know that once Baywood is commissioned to execute a project, then it will be done maybe even beyond client expectations because we like to stretch ourselves and do everything to surpass whatever standards of excellence previously achieved. We have been in this business for many years and we see excellence as something we constantly strive towards and thankfully we have both the human resource and requisite knowledge and experience to achieve continued growth and profitability now and in the future.
As one of the giants in this sector, what is next for Baywood?
We are undergoing a metamorphosis and a transformation in order to enable us achieve our medium to long-term objectives so there is a lot happening on the Baywood front. Organizationally, we plan to re-position Baywood to achieve leadership position in all the sectors and sub-sectors we operate. We are also re-branding to achieve a brand equity balance between current and projected profile of the company. We have developed the broad and specific elements of the company strategy to actualize this vision. Therefore, the future for Baywood is extremely exciting and I see us as an energy integrated company and we would most definitely be involved in exploration and production(EXP).
What does it take to establish and run a company like Baywood?
Personally, I love challenges and so it was inevitable that I would be involved in a complex and dynamic business like the oil and gas sector. To operate in this business you need a lot of perseverance, resilience and determination because there are so many contending issues. You also need to be a focused and visionary person who can inspire people along the path of excellence. However, it’s not just about me because thankfully, I am fortunate to be supported by an excellent top management team at Baywood. The quality of our human resource remains a key competitive advantage for us because we only engage the best people. Interestingly, even though our standards and perspectives are global, the entire top management of Baywood is made up of Nigerians which is an added advantage because we are familiar with the business environment and the key stakeholders in Nigeria. As Nigerians, we also have a singular commitment not only to the energy sector in Nigeria but also to every aspect of our country’s socio-economic development. Our track record is there for everybody to see and we are proud of what we have achieved so far and the future offers even brighter prospects.
What is your company doing in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility?
Internally, we have a fully operational corporate social responsibility operations committee which receives strategic inputs from our consultants, Ashton & Layton. Baywood is passionately committed to giving back to the community and we have done a lot in the past in the area of donations to the Nigeria Police and some charity organizations. We support widows and grassroot sports, specifically football. We fully intend to broaden the scope of our CSR activities and we even organized a Baywood golf tournament some years ago.. We have created a structure and platform for meaningful engagement with stakeholder publics and we are assured that our CSR programmes this year and into the future will be more impactful and add greater value to the socio-economic development of the country.
Baywood is handling the construction of the longest and biggest pipeline in Nigeria. Could you tell us about this project?
I spoke earlier about our avowed commitment to world-class standards service standards and the unwavering pursuit of excellence. Even on an individual basis, I always see our staff demonstrating a passion for results and achievements which is a major plus for Baywood. This is a philosophy which undergirds everything we do, so in terms of people capabilities, technology and all other key performance indices, we always ensure that we are aligned with global contemporary standards. That is the reason for the wonderful level of client patronage Baywood has enjoyed so far from the oil and gas sector.