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THE  GAS  KING The Charmed Life of Julius Rone, OFR By Keem Abdul 

Read Time:9 Minute, 8 Second


Success, of course, means different things to different people. For some, it means climbing to the top of the corporate ladder, or creating a brand or product that changes the world. For others, it is getting paid to do what they love, or having the freedom to work on their own terms. But no matter what success looks like for each one if us, the key thing is having the right mindset – the kind of mindset which sometimes see the invisible, and in so doing, does (or at least dares) the impossible.   

For decades since her emergence in the global energy marketplace, Nigeria’s profile has been that of an oil-producing economy with SOME gas reserves. But as the market evolves and old energy  paradigms shift and give way, it seems the conventional wisdom is beginning to tilt towards the notion that Nigeria is, after all, a gas-producing nation with SOME oil reserves. As the global community seeks to pivot away from fossil fuel usage in search of a sustainable long-term energy transition characterised by zero carbon emissions, Nigeria is gradually emerging as a potentially strong link in the global gas supply chain. 

This paradigm shift is, in no small part, thanks to the vision, daring and dedication of industry players like Julius Rone, CFR, a man whose business career and achievement has been characterized by a remarkable tendency to ‘deliver more than expected’ (in accordance with the admonition given years ago by Google co-founder Larry Page). 

Rone is the Group Managing Director of UTM Offshore Limited (or UTMOL, for short). Over the years, he has nurtured the company into the industry juggernaut and market leader it is today, a firm which can rightfully boast of being one of the largest oil and gas services companies on the African continent. Incorporated in July 2012 as a privately-held Nigerian oil and gas services  company, UTMOL is  part of an indigenous conglomerate engaged in diverse sectors of the Nigerian and international energy markets. It has carved an enviable niche for itself in the industry (and especially in the gas sector) thanks to its unparalleled track record of near-perfect  performance and solutions delivery, which is driven by the determination of its leadership and management to not only maintain that formidable track record, but to build on it. 

The company’s dominance in the energy ecosystem is most clearly reflected in its accomplishments in key areas of specialisation, such as the ongoing construction of its  Floating Liquefied Natural Gas Facility situated in the deepwater Yoho field off the Nigerian coast (an undertaking which it entered into in partnership with the African Export and Import Bank Bank, or Afreximbank, and others). The facility, the first of it’s kind in Nigeria, is projected to generate 176 million cubic feet of gas daily from the Yoho offshore field.

Also notable is the company’s experience is harnessing the expertise of top-tier security industry outfits and professionals with vast experience in the meticulous monitoring, security surveillance, protection, and maintenance of product pipelines. With security being such a critical infrastructure in its own right in the Nigerian energy ecosystem – no thanks to the spate of adversities now bedeviling the energy industries, such as pipeline vandalism and oil theft, etc., UTMOL’s investment in this infrastructure is a plus. 

As part of its marine services portfolio, UTMOL owns, operates and provides technical management in floating production storage and offloading (FPSO’s), security vessels, platform supply vessels, anchor handling tug and supply vessels, and dive support vessels, tugs (line handling and towing) and fast personnel and cargo transport, super sonic cruiser ferry boats and landing crafts. 

UTMOL also excels in precision dredging services, reshaping waterways for optimal navigation and construction – thanks to an unbeatable combination of a skilled team and the cutting-edge equipment said team uses with unbeatable mastery to ensure efficient sediment removal, as well as offering tailored solutions for ports and coastal projects with a commitment to environmental responsibility.

Direct Sales Distribution Program (or DSDP for short) is another key area of specialisation at UTMOL in its efforts to tailor its services to the energy sector by creating efficient and direct channels for the distribution of oil and gas products, and – most importantly, to connect producers directly with end-users and businesses.

To cap it all, UTMOL’s specialized training development ensures that the company is always staffed by a skilled workforce ready and able, not just to respond to the challenges that come with the complexities of project implementation, but to anticipate those challenges well in advance. With its rich store of human and material assets working optimally and in tandem, UTMOL has had a Midas-like record of successes in delivering top-notch solutions for both the maritime and energy sectors.

Behind this multidimensional corporate virtuosity is a hard-driving Group MD/CEO who, by virtue of his  accomplishments, has, at just 49, written his name in gold – not just in the annals of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, but in Corporate Nigeria as well. His admirers have gone as far as describing Julius Rone as an evolving phenomenon and Nigeria’s pride in the global business marketplace. True to the appellation, ‘King of Gas,’ by which he is also referred, Rone has been imperious in the decisions he has taken and the choices he has made in the course of his glittering career. The results have been regal in their impact and scope. Majestic, too, are the strides that have brought him where he is today.  

And he has no plans to abdicate his throne anytime soon. 

And why should he, when his plans, policies, projects and projections affect so many others positively, beginning from the hunfreds – if not thousands – who earn their living in the employment of UTMOL? And not just those who work directly or indirectly for the conglomerate as part of its internal system, but also its external systems, namely, its network of contractors, cosultants, suppliers, distributors and so forth. 

The list of beneficiaries of UTMOL’s largesse goes even beyond those whose names appear on the company’s payroll or its contractor and consultant lists. With the exponential growth of the UTMOL brand and the spread of its corporate tentacles, the conglomerate’s impact on its social environment has been equally profound – thanks to its many interventions in people-centered, welfarist programmes in the areas of education, healthcare, employment and other forms of philanthropy and social investment. 

These corporate interventions on the part of UTMOL are matched by the personal generosity of its boss. During the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020, just to cite one example, the billionaire businessman donated the sum of ₦20 million to the Delta State Government to help in the fight against the spread of the dreaded pandemic in the state. This is in addition to countless other personal interventions both reported and unreported – some directed at individuals and others at  organizations for whom those interventions have made a world of difference. 

The work of UTMOL and its far-reaching impact of the Nigerian gas sector and the energy ecosystem in general, and the leadership of Julius Rone in particular, have not gone unnoticed by the most influential stakeholders in the industry and beyond, in terms of recognitions and accolades. Far from it;  Rone is the proud recipient of a veritable avalanche of awards and prizes. In 2022, he was presented with Vanguard Newspaper’s ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ award, in recognition of his unprecedented contributions to the growth of Nigeria’s economy. In 2023, the same media organisation presented him with its ‘Man of the Year’ Award – to add to ‘The Next Bulls‘ award given to him by the influential Business Day Newspaper in early 2023  in recognition of Rone’s market leadership and pacesetting innovations. 

Even the Nigerian Federal Government, especially under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not left out of the train of adulation for this exceptional young Nigerian – and for good reason. UTMOL’s industry leadership in the positioning of gas on the country’s strategic energy value-chain is very much in line with the Federal Government’s ‘Decade of Gas Initiative,” – a scheme designed to enhance energy transition, employment, capacity building, transfer of technology, a reduction in the rate of gas flaring, a significant increase in domestic supply and export, and the generation of additional revenues for relevant stakeholders, including the FG. Not many were surprised, therefore, when Rone was among the notable and influential Nigerian business leaders who were invited by President Tinubu to India for the India-Nigeria Business Roundtable, which was organised by the Nigerian High Commission in New Delhi, along with the Indian capital, in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Nigeria-India Business Council (NIBC). Rone was also part of the President’s entourage to the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA. In October last year, he was invested with the national award of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) by former President Muhammadu Buhari. 

A skilled orator, Rone is a much sought-after speaker at conferences, seminars, workshops and other knowledge-sharing sessions across the country and beyond her shores. He sits on the board of the UTM Group of Companies, and is a member of such prestigious professional associations as the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC); The Institute of Directors (IoD); The American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP); The American Management Association (AMA), The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) USA; and The Association of Associate Executives (AAE). . 

Not bad for a Warri boy who had to deploy his brains, talents and his capacity for hard work to make his way in life. Born into a family from the Itsekiri ethnic nationality in that oil-rich city in Delta State on June 25, 1974, Julius Dediare Rone had his early education in his home town, after which he proceeded to the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife – and later to the University of Calabar, where he attained his Advanced Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma, respectively,  in Business Administration. 

Julius and his wife Utibe Rone, to whom he has been married since 2005, are blessed with three children. An entrepreneur in her own right, Mrs. Rone runs a fashion outfit. 

True to his reputation as a bold and far-sighted visionary, Julius Rone and the conglomerate he runs, are brimming with future plans and projections. Under his watch, UTMOL looks set to  continue growing its services through excellent corporate governance, strategic affiliations and global alliances, the same combination of factors that have in the past enabled the company to provide a competitive and wide array of customized products and services – including support services, broad-based capacity enhancements, international trading opportunities, and resource-optimized strategies and plans that are sustainable and productive to the benefit of its existing and prospective partners/affiliates, and its vast array of clients, customers, communities and interests.   


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