Yinka Folawiyo Plaza
38 Yinka Folawiyo Avenue
Telephone: (+234 1) 2805432
Fax: (+234 1) 4600687
Web site: https://yinkafolawiyogroup.com
NAICS: 211120 Crude Petroleum Extraction; 424420 Packaged Frozen Food Merchant Wholesalers; 483111 Deep Sea Freight Transportation; 483113 Coastal and Great Lakes Freight Transportation; 551112 Offices of Other Holding Companies
Yinka Folawiyo & Sons Ltd. is one of Nigeria's largest and most diversified companies, with operations and investments in the petroleum and energy, farming, shipping, and property development industries. The company operates through six primary divisions: Upstream, Midstream, Downstream, Farming, Real Estate, and Shipping. The Upstream operations are conducted through Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum, the leading Nigerian-owned oil exploration and production company. The Midstream division operates through Folawiyo Energy, a leading operator of oil, gas, and fuel depots, with its own deepwater jetty in Lagos. The Downstream division was established in 2016 with the creation of Enyo Retail & Supply Ltd., which opened its first service stations in several Nigerian markets in 2017. Enyo also operates as a supplier of fuel, gasoline, household kerosene, and automotive lubricants to convenience stores, service stations, concierge services, and others. Yinka Folawiyo's Farming division includes Folawiyo Farms, which operates a 308-hectare poultry farm in Oyo State and supplies fresh eggs and frozen chicken throughout Nigeria. The Real Estate division is based on United Property Developers, one of the most successful of Nigeria's property development companies. Lastly, Yinka Folawiyo has been a pioneer of Nigeria's shipping industry, through Maritime Associates International (MAI), which has evolved to provide port services to foreign vessels calling at Nigerian ports. Yinka Folawiyo & Sons Ltd. remains a private company entirely owned and led by the Folawiyo family. Babatunde Tijani Folawiyo, son of founder Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo, is chairman and CEO of the group.
The Folawiyo family traditionally held a great deal of prominence in Nigeria, serving as the Baba Adinni, or chief of the Yoruba tribe in Lagos. Under British colonial rule, the Folawiyo family also emerged as one of the country's most prominent merchant families, particularly under the leadership of Pa Tijani Folawiyo. His son, Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo, born in 1928, was educated at Ilesha Grammar School, in Osun State, before being sent to England, where he completed his studies at North-Western Polytechnic (later part of the University of North London), earning a degree in management, with a ship brokering specialty, in 1951.
While completing his studies, Folawiyo also made a start on his future career, spending two years as a management trainee with the Unilever subsidiary United African Company (UAC), one of the oldest trading companies in Nigeria. UAC traced its own roots back to the Royal Niger Company, which in the late 19th century held the British charter to administer the region that later became Nigeria. In 1949 Folawiyo completed a second two-year internship at Socony Vacuum Oil, the predecessor to the Mobil Oil Company, then joined that company's Nigerian operations upon his return to Nigeria in 1951.
By 1957, however, Folawiyo was prepared to follow in his father's footsteps as a prominent Nigerian merchant. With his father's help and connections, Folawiyo set up his own company, called Yinka Folawiyo & Sons, as an import and export company. Among Folawiyo's earliest contracts was one to import cement from Spain.
Folawiyo's breakthrough came in 1958, after a visit to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where he developed a number of important contacts. Returning to Nigeria, Folawiyo became the first in the country to develop trade with Eastern Europe, starting with contracts to bring sugar and cement from the Soviet Union into Nigeria. From there, Folawiyo added operations in Bulgaria and Romania, importing a growing range of commodities, including fertilizers, foods, and bagged cement. Later products handled by Folawiyo grew to include dairy products, canned and frozen fish, and rice.
The strong growth of Folawiyo's trading business encouraged him to diversify his business interests in the 1960s. In 1967 he set up a second business, Maritime Associates International (MAI), as a shipping agent, ship manager, and forwarding agent. The company's shipping operations began after it was awarded a contract to transport palm kernels, cocoa, groundnuts, and other Nigerian produce for the Nigerian Produce Marketing Company. MAI began chartering its own fleet of ships, becoming the first Nigerian-owned company to ship to and from Nigeria. In doing so, it defeated the monopoly long held by British and other European shipping companies. MAI later evolved into a provider of ship management and port services, including to international vessels docking at Nigeria's ports.
Folawiyo soon entered the shipping industry outright, founding Nigerian Green Lines in 1972. Nigerian Green Lines became the first Nigerian ship owner, and it was later granted the status as a national carrier by the Nigerian government. In 1975 the company launched regular liner services between Nigeria and Europe. Later that year Nigerian Green Lines also opened an office in London, from which it carried out ship management, chartering, and purchasing operations. By 1979 the company's fleet had grown to include six cargo ships, of between 10,000 and 15,000 deadweight tonnage each, making Nigerian Green Lines the largest African-owned fleet operator. In this capacity, Folawiyo became the first African admitted as a principal member of the Baltic Exchange. Nigerian Green Lines faded from prominence through the next decade, however, and by 1990 it had reduced its fleet to a single vessel.
Folawiyo extended his shipping interests during the 1970s to include Marine and International Lighterage Ltd., which provided lightering services to ships entering Lagos's ports. The company also developed its own deepwater berth in 1976, spending NGN 40 million on the project to accommodate shipments for the Nigerian Spanish Cement Company, a joint venture created by Folawiyo and Spain's Hispacement Co. During the 1970s Folawiyo also made several investments outside of Nigeria. In 1977, for instance, Folawiyo became a founding shareholder in the London-based Allied Arab Bank.
At the same time, Folawiyo began looking for ways to diversify beyond its trading and shipping businesses. This led the company into real estate, and particularly property development, with the creation of United Property Developers in 1971. In this way the company was able to respond to the strong demand for modern residential and commercial properties in Nigeria, which, following its independence in 1960, had already emerged as the strongest of the sub-Saharan African economies.
Folawiyo launched a longer-term investment in 1982, when the group took its first steps into the Nigerian oil and gas markets by forming Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Ltd. Nigeria had long been of interest to the oil industry, with the first exploration operations taking place at the turn of the 20th century. Another 50 years would pass before the first oil discovery was made, in the Niger Delta region. By the early 1980s, however, Nigeria had already become the largest oil producer in Africa, and by the turn of the 21st century, oil and gas had become the country's largest export, responsible for nearly all of its export earnings.
The company expanded its energy operations in the late 1980s, founding Folawiyo Energy, which became a leading provider of oil and gas storage and distribution services in Lagos. Although Nigeria's oil and gas industry was booming, few in Nigeria itself benefited from the industry, which remained dominated by foreign oil companies. To encourage investment by Nigerians in the country's oil and gas industry, the Nigerian government created the Indigenous Allocation Programme. Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum was an early beneficiary of the program, receiving an oil prospecting license in 1991. The company then acquired a 60 percent interest in the Aje offshore oil and gas field, in the Oil Mining License (OML) 113 block, located 24 kilometers off Nigeria's coast, which already boasted an oil and gas discovery. Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum launched its own prospecting operations as well as initiatives to exploit the existing discovery.
As Folawiyo developed its energy interests, the company also diversified into other areas, most notably fishing and farming during the 1980s. Among Folawiyo's first investments in this area was the founding of Folawiyo Fisheries Ltd. in 1981. Folawiyo broadened its fishing interests in 1990, putting together a fleet of four trawlers.
In 1986 the company made its first venture into land-based agriculture, founding Yinka Folawiyo Farms Ltd. A primary objective of the company was to participate in the Nigerian government's effort to promote the country's agricultural self-sufficiency. To this end, the company teamed up with the government of Rivers State, one of the most important of Nigeria's agricultural regions, and the federal government to launch an attempt to develop a commercially viable rice crop in the region. The effort got off to a strong start, with the acquisition of 6,000 hectares, but ultimately failed.
Instead, Yinka Folawiyo Farms turned its attention to more promising agricultural opportunities. Chief among these was poultry farming. The company acquired more than 308 hectares of farmland in Ilora, in Oyo State in southern Nigeria, and launched an integrated poultry farming operation. This project included the farming of maize and other feed crops; a nursery featuring six parent stock breeding houses; facilities for as many as 100,000 hens, including both layers and breeders; and a poultry slaughtering and processing facility, complete with cold storage facilities.
Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo continued to explore other business interests, now joined by his son, Babatunde (Tunde) Tijani Folawiyo, who joined Yinka Folawiyo in 1989. Born in 1960, the younger Folawiyo had also been educated in England, completing a bachelor's degree in economics at the London School of Economics in 1980 before going on to study law at University College London, earning his degree in 1985. Tunde Folawiyo returned to Nigeria and started his law career at the Lagos-based Ogunsanya & Ogunsanya, one of Nigeria's leading business law firms.
Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum nonetheless held the most promise for the Folawiyo group. The company had made progress at its Aje offshore field, drilling its first test wells, including a test for gas and oil in 1996 and a well to test for oil in 1997. In 2004 the company formalized plans to exploit the OML 113 license. It negotiated an agreement with the U.S. biofuels technology firm Syntroleum Corporation that year to build a 20,000-barrel-per-day gas-to-liquid platform using Syntroleum's technology. In 2005 the companies formalized the agreement, launching the appraisal phase of the discovery, starting with the drilling and testing of a new well.
Backed by the results of the appraisal, Folawiyo gathered a consortium of companies to expand the oil discovery operations in the OML 113 block. Partners included Providence Resources Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Company, Chevron Nigeria Deepwater H Limited, and Vitol Exploration Nigeria Ltd. In 2009 the consortium announced it had made a commercially viable discovery in the field.
Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo did not live to see the discovery, however, having died two weeks before his 80th birthday in 2008. Tunde Folawiyo took up the company's mantle, however, and helped to steer the efforts to develop the Aje field discovery. The company brought in a number of new partners for this phase, including New Age Exploration Nigeria Limited, EER (Colobus) Nigeria Limited, Pan Petroleum (Panoro Energy) Aje Limited, and PR Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited. By 2014 the company had raised the estimated reserves at the Aje field discovery to 11.7 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe).
At last, in May 2016 Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum was able to announce that it had launched commercial production of oil from the OML 113 license. This made Folawiyo the first to produce oil outside of the Niger Delta, confirming the potential for the country's homegrown oil industry, and raising Nigeria to the ranks of major oil producers. By June 2016 Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum had already begun its first crude oil exports. More good news came in 2018, when Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum announced it had not only increased the estimated oil reserves of the Aje field, to 215 million boe, but had also confirmed the viability of developing the Aje field's natural gas reserves.
With its Upstream division taking off after a 25-year investment, Yinka Folawiyo turned its attention to the Downstream division. In 2016 the company founded Enyo Retail & Supply Ltd. as a supplier of petroleum products, including fuel, gasoline, home kerosene, and lubricants. The company started out as a wholesale supplier, but in 2017 it opened its first 12 service stations. It then announced plans to expand its service station network throughout the Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt markets. Backed by its growing energy businesses, Yinka Folawiyo & Sons appeared certain to increase its stature as one of Nigeria's largest and most diversified companies.
M. L. Cohen
Enyo Retail & Supply Ltd.; Folawiyo Energy Ltd.; Maritime Associates International Ltd.; United Property Developers Ltd.; Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Ltd.
Downstream; Farming; Midstream; Real Estate; Shipping; Upstream.
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“Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Announces Production of First Oil from Aje Field.” All Africa, May 5, 2016.