Home Business From N200k startup to multimillion-dollar empire: The inspiring journey of Winifred Akpani and Northwest Petroleum & Gas

From N200k startup to multimillion-dollar empire: The inspiring journey of Winifred Akpani and Northwest Petroleum & Gas

by Admin

Ruth Okwumbu-Imafidon

If you reside in Nigeria and have done so for the last decade or so, the chances that you have never seen a Northwest petroleum station are zero.

Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company owns and operates several massive gas stations across the country and is daily patronized by a beehive of motorists.  

Over the years Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company Limited has grown to be a solid brand with international repute, and it has taken almost three decades of hard work and resilience to bring the brand where it is.

No doubt, the oil and gas sector is not for the lily-livered, and it takes a certain level of sheer guts, skills and capacity to even attempt an entry.

The profile focus for the week is Winifred Akpani – founder and Chief Executive Officer of Northwest Petroleum & Gas Co. Ltd, an indigenous petroleum products marketing company. 

Education and early career 

After bagging a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Benin, Benin City, Winifred Akpani went on to do a postgraduate diploma in Computer Science at the University of Lagos.

When she was to start her career, however, she decided she wanted to become an accountant.  

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She started as a Trainee Accountant in an audit firm – Oni Lasebikan and Co (now Ernst and Young) in 1987.

She moved on to Arthur Anderson & Co (now KPMG Professional Services), and this was where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1990. By the time she left the firm in 1992, she had already attained the position of Audit Senior.  

She then joined Flame Petroleum & Gas Company Limited, a start-up oil marketing company, as a Financial Controller in 1992.

Within the next five years, she rose through the ranks to become an Executive Director in 1997 – a good position by any standards.

If she had decided to take that route to the end, there is little doubt that she would still have earned a reputation for herself in the corporate space.

However, in 1998, Winifred Akpani left to go explore the wild waters of entrepreneurship.  

Founding Northwest Petroleum 

In 1998, Akpani founded the Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company Limited. This new company would become a test of her enterprise, business acumen and other skills she had acquired over the years.  

With a startup capital of only N200,000, Northwest Petroleum started a business. The company carried out diesel supplies in 200-litre drums to homes, guest houses, banks and corporate organisations.

Two and half decades later, the company now handles international oil trading and services deals worth millions of dollars and has multiple investments in midstream and upstream sectors of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company Ltd. owns over a 100 million litre storage capacity in Nigeria. 

Northwest Petroleum operates two ultra-modern mega Petroleum Products Storage Terminals with a combined capacity of 96.8 million litres certified and licensed by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and an Ultra-Modern Berthing Facility with International State-of-the-Art Fire Fighting and Safety Equipment, adjudged one of the best in Nigeria and sited in the Calabar Free Trade Zone, Cross River State.  

Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company Limited also owns and operates several unique 24-and 26-nozzle Ultra-Modern Mega Filling stations across the country.

Now possessing vast experience in the importation, supply, distribution and storage of Petroleum Products, Northwest Petroleum is approved by the NNPC for the allocation and export of Nigerian Crude Oil and is actively involved in the official export.  

Akpani is still directly involved and ensures quality assurance and control in all projects.

She is also responsible for formulating and developing organizational strategic business plans and policies, as well as guiding the Company’s affairs. 

Akpani has other business interests across the energy, oil and gas sectors.

She is a Director of Millennium Oil and Gas Company Limited, the operator of Oza Marginal Field and Northwest Energy Nigeria Limited, a company in the exploration and production sector.  

She equally has substantial interests in the banking industry and is also a Director of Fleet Travels and Tours Nigeria Limited, a first-class travel agency. 

Mrs Winifred Akpani serves as a non-executive director at GDL, a company leading diversified financial institution, creating wealth and transforming society, providing unique financial solutions to strengthen and expand the middle class in terms of savings, investment, financial access, infrastructure, housing, employment and others. 

Memberships and Recognitions 

Winifred Akpani is a fellow of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA) and an Associate Member of the Institute of Directors (100).

She has taken several courses, locally and internationally across Finance, Oil & Gas, Corporate Governance and Banking.  

In 2019, Winifred Akpani was elected as the Chairman, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), an organization that unites members to advise, encourage and support the government to churn out policies that promote the economic well-being of the nation in general and the downstream petroleum sector in particular. 

She is also very involved in humanitarian work and charity donations. And In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI awarded her The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal or Cross of Honour, the highest award of the Catholic Church established by Pope Leo XIII in1888 for distinguished service to the church and humanity

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