Dr Alex Irune: “The Future Speaks to a More Efficient and Productive Industry”

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Our latest #AOWLEARNANDSHARE feature is an exclusive interview with Dr Alex Irune.

Dr. Irune is COO of Oando Energy Resources. He will be a familiar face to the AOW Community, having spoken both on the conference’s Plenary Stage and in the Ministerial & VIP Symposium.

Prior to assuming his current role in 2018, he was Chief Strategy & Corporate Services Officer at Oando PLC from 2016 to 2018. He also served as the Head of Corporate Communications from 2013 to 2016, where he oversaw all internal and external brand-building efforts across the company’s business entities.

In this 20-minute conversation, recorded on 29 May 2020 in Lagos, Dr Irune assesses the current state of Nigeria’s energy sector, and explores the ramifications of COVID-19 on the future of global oil and gas operations. Key points raised by Dr Irune include:


When asked whether COVID-19 would act as a catalyst for repositioning the Nigerian petroleum sector towards gas, Dr Irune remarked that, though there was no doubt that the pandemic would accelerate the pace of change: “Before COVID-19, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resource had tagged 2020 as the year of gas for the nation. The idea is simple and involves investment in gas and policies to drive gas development and utilisation, enhancing the economy of Nigeria through the leverage contribution of gas.”

Creating an enabling environment in Nigeria

Dr Irune said: “I think Nigeria is doing what it can at the moment to diversify its economy.  A lot of the deficiencies sit around creating a more enabling environment. We can do better when it comes to policy.  The PIB is a great example, we’ve seen it gain a little bit more momentum in recent times, but it’s taken over a decade to pass this important petroleum bill – in a mono-product economy like Nigeria. Happily, what we see today is a Government that is willing to drive things forward and take tough decisions. The PIB has been broken up and we are seeing the first part of it make its way through and hopefully see the other components come through in very good time. On the utilisation/ activity side, we are seeing the government fast track projects to enable gas utilisation and gas transportation across the nation. The government is focusing on infrastructure projects to improve gas transportation and utilisation, and that for me is the beginning. That is where we begin to create the availability to tap into gas resources and create the industries we desire.”


Dr Irune urges caution when reopening global petroleum operations, saying: “In theory, once demand picks up, the supply itself would be burnt through and we would go back into an equilibrium position where oil hovers between the $50-$60 mark. That might be the prognosis in theory, but in practice, in terms of CAPEX, going back into a stall position (like 2014-2016) again means we may start to see global reserve to replacement ratios that are somewhat lopsided to the reserve side.”

Crafting a new way of working

With a PhD in Computer Science, it’s no surprise that Dr Irune is excited by how the current pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technologies including IoT and robotics: “We’re seeing more efficient ways of doing things, including collaboration on supply chains and infrastructure across a multitude of oil companies. We’re seeing efficiencies in modes of operations, which will undoubtedly drive down cost per barrel for oil companies in the longer term.”

COVID-19 and CSR

Like many companies in the oil and gas sector, Oando has used the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to renew and refresh its charitable and CSR efforts. Dr Irune explained: “The #HumansOfOando have created TAP, The Aggregator Platform which is a platform designed to connect donors with boots on the ground across Nigeria. We realised that despite the financial contributions and efforts made by the public and private sector as well as Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs) in feeding the less privileged there is still a huge gap between those who are in dire need and those who are eventually reached and fed. TAP has a long term goal of ending hunger and alleviating poverty across the nation, one community at a time, through structured intervention.  It’s our way of saying we’re in this for the long-run.”

To hear Dr. Irune expand on the above points and more click here.