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How FORTE Oil Changed Brand Name To ap


Have you noticed that something has changed about the petrol station with the brand name, Forte Oil across Nigeria. The brand has metamorphosed into a new one. It now wears a new look, with a new name. Although it has retained its brand colour of white, yellow and lemon green, it is obvious that a lot has gone on in the background before the name change can be effected. Last week, City People’s Brands & Products did some leg works in other to find out what transpired and why the name change is being effected now.

Of course, virtually everyone knows that billionaire, Femi Otedola owns Forte Oil, however, many may not know that a new management has taken over from him and that they are the ones effecting these visible changes.



Sometime in 2019, popular Nigerian billionaire and oil magnate, Femi Otedola, sold off his controlling stake in the popular Forte Oil Plc to a new owner & management. In the course of the transition management process, the company was tapped as brand strategy consultants to work closely with the new management in designing a long term brand strategy framework to align with the company’s vision and business strategy for the next foreseeable future of the company. While this came as an exciting opportunity to do great work, it was also one of the most fragile, as well as complex engagements has had to manage in a while. Two key issues stood out from among the many that we had to navigate through.

First, this will be the fourth time the company will be undergoing such change and a rebrand in about 50 years, post its entry into Nigeria as British Petroleum (BP) in 1964. Between 1964 to date, the brand has evolved from British Petroleum (BP) to African Petroleum (AP), Forte Oil Plc and now, a new change of name and branding. This makes them one of only 2 mainstream brands with such a record in Nigeria. Secondly, part of the buyer/seller agreement required discontinuation in the use of the name Forte Oil Plc, another hurdle that required creating a new name and brand identity for the company.



The request for a name change was a decision that required more than creative expertise, it was a make or break situation and every option and decision reached was weighed critically against shareholder alignment, audience sentiments, communications framing and impact on the bottom line. Every trick in the book was brought to the table and weighed against many of factors. The result of this process gave birth to the new brand Ardova Plc.



Ardova is a combination of the Dutch/Arabic word: Aarde, meaning earth and the word ‘value’ mirroring the company’s ambitions to build a brand that has at the heart of its corporate strategy, sustainability leadership. The new logo designed, features a hexagram styled icon as the leading visual concept and takes on the moniker (AP) which creatively connects the company to its rich history and heritage, a design approach that was taken to help create for the company, a nexus between history and modernity.

Ardova Plc (formerly Forte Oil PLC) is an indigenous energy group, headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, with extended operations in Ghana. It operates majorly in the downstream sector of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas industry, but has diversified its businesses into other sectors of the energy value chain. The downstream division specializes in the distribution of a wide range of petroleum products; Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), diesel, aviation fuel, kerosene, as well as a range of lubricants for various automobiles and machines; distributed mostly to the automobile, industrial, aviation and marine markets.

Ardova Plc (formerly Forte Oil PLC) was incorporated on December 11, 1964, as British Petroleum. After 14 years in operation, the company changed its status from a private limited liability company to a public liability company. In compliance with the provisions of the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree of 1977, 40% of the company’s shares were sold to Nigerians and a year later, 60% was acquired by the Federal Government of Nigeria in favour of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from British Petroleum. In November 1979 its name was changed to African Petroleum PLC. NNPC’s stake in AP was reduced by 20% in March 1989 after the Federal Government sold the above percentage to Nigerian Citizens, increasing their stake from 40% to 60%. In the year 2000, the Federal Government under its privatization programme divested its remaining 40% to core investors and interested Nigerians.



In May 2007, the shareholding structure took another dimension as Incorporated Trustees of NNPC’s Pension Fund divested its stake to Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited, owned by Femi Otedola, making it the majority shareholder in the company. As a result, Mr. Otedola and his affiliated entities became the core investor in the company.

Under the new management, African Petroleum embarked on a rebranding and restructuring programme which led to a name change to Forte Oil PLC in December 2010, and a rebranding of the retail outlets spread across the across the country.

In 2013 the company purchased a controlling stake in the 414 MW Geregu Power plant under a government-led privatisation programme in the power industry under the leadership of Goodluck Jonathan. Geregu Power Plant was commissioned in 2007 with three Siemens V94.2 open cycle gas turbine power generation units, namely GT11, GT12, and GT13, with an initial combined installed capacity of 414MW. A major overhaul of the plant commenced in 2015 and was completed in 2016, increasing the combined capacity to 435MW.



In 2015 they signed an $83 million contract with Siemens to upgrade the 414 MW plant, the work is due to be completed in 2016. As at June 20, 2019, approx. 75% controlling shares of Forte oil were purchased by Prudent Energy and Services owned by Abdulwasiu Sowami through Sowami’s investment company Ignite Investments and Commodities Limited, thus effectively giving Sowami controlling shares of Forte oil excluding the Geregu Power plant.

At an Extra-ordinary General Meeting (EGM) held in Lagos on December 18, 2019, shareholders of Forte Oil PLC authorised the board of directors to change the company’s name to Ardova Plc. The new name, along with a new logo and tagline was officially launched to the public on February 19, 2020. Ardova Plc (formerly Forte Oil PLC) operates a network of about 450 retail outlets spread across the Country with major fuel storage installations at both Apapa (Lagos State) and Onne (Rivers State), an aviation joint users hydrant in Lagos, and joint aviation depots in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, serving the aviation industry.

With presence in the 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja and a spread of retail outlets in Ghana, the Company markets premium motor spirit (PMS), automotive motor oil (Diesel), dual-purpose kero (DPK), fuel oils and Jet A-1 fuel amongst others. It also manufactures and distributes a range of lubricants, some of which include Super V, Visco 2000 etc. at its lubricating oil blending plant at Apapa, Lagos Nigeria. The Company also provides well production chemicals and drilling fluids to Nigeria’s petroleum upstream operators through its upstream services subsidiary, Forte Upstream Services.



Although Femi Otedola’s decision to divest his shares in Forte Oil came as a surprise to many Nigerians, it was more surprising that it was acquired by a Nigerian company, Prudent Energy & Services Limited, owned by a Nigerian businessman and oil mogul. Prior to this news, the name Abdulwasiu Sowami, owner of Prudent Energy was unknown to many Nigerians. The name might not have rung a bell with some Nigerians and the investing public at large, but Sowami is one of the leading energy figures who have been contributing immensely to the commercial activities of the country’s oil and gas industry.

It is not that Sowami is news in the oil and gas industry, or on the billionaire radar, but compared to many in the country’s billionaire circle who love the notoriety that big money brings, Sowami prefers to explore a quiet lifestyle. Despite his intimidating wealth, the oil tycoon shies away from the limelight. However, with his new acquisition of Forte Oil, public interest has been piqued.

Sowami is a graduate of Sociology from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, and holds a Masters in Corporate Governance from Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom (UK). He is an Associate Member of the Institute of Directors.

His robust industry knowledge and experience in the country’s oil and gas sector span over two decades owing to the leadership positions he held in various, companies. Sowami launched his career, with Besse Oil and Services Limited, later moving on to Cosmos Oil Limited, then to Ignite Energy Limited. 

In the course of his career, he has cultivated relationships with the leadership of prominent international trading companies including Vitol, Shell Trading Rotterdam, Glencore, and BP Oil International Limited. Sowami chairs Ignite Investments and Commodities Limited, a firm that facilitates finances for businesses, particularly Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are excluded from accessing financing from regular banks due to lack of collateral and property rights. He also leads the operations of Prudent Energy & Services Limited, one of the local oil firms licensed to lift Nigerian crude. His company, founded in 2004, prides itself as one of the leading players in petroleum marketing, marine logistics, and the oil sector consulting in the country. Presently, he has a depot in Oghara, Delta State and a lot of fueling trucks that deliver nationwide. He also has three vessels, two named after his late mother and wife.

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