The shareholders of Total Nigeria Plc, on Thursday, approved the N2.06bn dividend proposed by the company’s board of directors for the 2020 financial year.
The N2.06bn represents N6.08 per share to be distributed as final dividend subject to the deduction of appropriate withholding tax at the time of payment, according to the company
Total said due to the new and improved initiatives put in place by management, profit before minimum income tax rose by one per cent, while profit after tax reduced by two per cent from N2.28bn to N2.06bn. This is clearly a good achievement in the face of a pandemic..
Speaking to shareholders at the AGM, Chairman of Total Nigeria Plc Mr. Stanislas Mittelman, made it known that the pandemic triggered health, social and economic challenges across the world. Health issues became front burner and were at the forefront of every conversation. The Nigerian corporate sector rose to the task by forming several alliances to fight the pandemic. Total Nigeria Plc was not left out as the company joined forces with Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) under the auspices of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to donate to the Federal Government towards providing healthcare facilities and services across the country. Total Nigeria Plc also provided products as a form of support to frontline workers.
Mittelman stated that the Nigerian oil and gas industry has been quite difficult for the downstream sector in the last couple of days. Tiny margins are constantly being eroded by inflation and high operating costs brought about by inefficient supply and difficult logistics.
He noted that on the 18th of March 2020, the Federal Government mandated the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to modulate prices in accordance with prevailing market dynamics. On the same day NNPC announced that it would start selling petrol at N125 from the 19th of March (a N20 price reduction). Thereafter, the corporation announced that going forward pump price will be determined by market forces and PPPRA will communicate pricing bands every two weeks and NNPC retail would be treated like any other marketer.
He pointed out that the development shows government had taken a step towards deregulation as this went on for a couple of months with prices undulating as international prices of crude moved downwards. However, many other elements to support full deregulation remain unresolved as downstream companies are yet to have a level-playing field and market players do not have equal access to US dollars for importation at the rate being used in the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) pricing template.
Even though PPPRA has since stopped issuing guidelines for PMS pump prices, ex-depot prices communicated still form the major determinant of pump prices and the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) charges are still in effect to artificially equalize the price of PMS across the country.
Thus, in 2020, technically oil marketing companies could import PMS but it has been difficult.
He disclosed that despite the odds in 2020, Total Nigeria Plc further increase its production capacity and profitability. The company installed and commissioned a third High Speed Filling Machine at its Lagos Blending Plant. It commissioned a 1MWp hybrid solar plant in a build and operate model for Rite Foods Limited, in Ogun State. The solar farm is estimated to produce 1.24GWh of energy to the factory annually and save 740 tons of CO2 per year.
For Total Nigeria Plc this is a major milestone in the development and deployment of B2B solar hybrid solutions in Nigeria. The company also deploy 25kWp for DHL in Apapa, and 176kWp for a logistics warehouse in Lagos. To date, Total Nigeria Plc has solarized 110 of its service stations with a total PV capacity of 1870k Wp with an expected solar energy production of 2.2GWh yearly. This is expected to save 1,830 tons of CO2 annually.
However, shareholders commended the company’s board and management for its performance in 2020 despite challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic which impacted the oil industry across the globe. The company was able to manage its cost and cash flow in terms of liquidity. Total is doing well.
Looking at the oil marketing company in Nigeria, after bank, is the most regulated industry. Government policies remain a hindrance to the progress of the industry emphasizing on subsidy which it claimed has been removed but subtly inherent in the sector. NNPC plays dual roles of regulation and competitor in the oil marketing space, a supplier to other marketers as well as making it difficult for others to compete due to preference from the government.
The shareholders are of the view that it is awkward for a regulator to also be a competitor. If the country wants the oil industry to grow and move forward, the government should allow a level playing ground for the downstream. The major oil companies should be allowed to import fuel and FOREX at the same rate with the corporation to make the sector blossom.
They advised the company to concentrate on other products apart from PMS such as gas, lubricants and solar panel. Total can make successful impact through solar, this is an area that the company can grow its business because is not regulated. The advent of electric cars will be an adverse effect on fossil fuel while solar becomes relevant. Therefore, Total Nigeria Plc should brace up for the coming challenges.
Shareholders were excited that Total is investor friendly because the total earning per share is being paid as dividends which is commendable for retirees that are living through their past investments. They also acknowledged that Total service stations are the cleanest among other operating stations with commendable services.
Shareholders asked question concerning unclaimed dividends by some members and the company Secretary, Mrs. Olubunmi Popoola-Mordi, responded that they are intact with the company and shareholders can get information from the Registrar which will be made available when requested. It is also published in advance on national dailies.
On the Dangote refinery impact on Nigeria, Mittelman said, it is going to be a game changer for the downstream sector especially on the aspect of supply which many players will take advantage.
Board elections were held and members returned elected.