The segmentation of Ghana’s oil gas industry into upstream (the procurement and refining of crude oil) and Downstream (marketing and distribution of petroleum products by Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and the pre-mixing of petroleum products for other industrial uses) offers varying opportunities for individuals who wish to enter the sector.
Recognizing this opportunity coupled with intuitiveness and a problem-solving approach, Ethel Laurel Akafful established Laurel Gas, “a clean energy distribution company that uses technology to promote the broad and safe use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas in Ghana.”
Her company targets three vital issues in the LPG sector: Safety, Accessibility, and Convenience. Her company’s safety stock and the delivery module is said to provide “safer, affordable and high returns on investment than the traditional gas station that is expensive to set up; providing LPG accessibility and last-mile delivery for LPG within 10-30 minutes after order.”
Early life and education
Ethel Laurel Akafful hails from Abomosu, a small town in the Eastern Region. Her mother was a petty trader and her father a farmer and a gold and diamond retailer. She began her basic school education at Abomosu Presbyterian Primary School and moved to Adum Presbyterian Junior High School in Kumasi. She then moved on to Wesley Girls’ High School for her secondary education, where she studied General Science. After Senior High School, she taught Mathematics and General science in a private junior high school. She then went on to pursue Earth Science and Petroleum Geoscience at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Her career in the oil and gas industry began at a tender age, however, the passion began with the extractive industry. Due to her father’s business dealings in gold and diamond, Ethel Laurel Akafful and her siblings were well accustomed to the value of gold and diamond, and how to process and sell these valuable resources.
“We were very young but we knew what gold was at that age. When it rained heavily, we go to the gullies and pick pieces of and gold put them in a mercury container. After some time, we get bigger sizes and sell to my dad,” said Ethel Laurel Akafful in an interview.
“Sometimes when my dad is absent and people come around I’m able to weigh the gold and buy on his behalf,” she added.
‘’When it was time for university, I chose only engineering courses. I just wanted to be an engineer. I thought that if I do engineering I could work as someone who mines gold but I was offered earth science,” she recalled in an interview.
With the enlightenment she gained from the course, she discovered a newfound love for the petroleum sector. This led her to establish Laurel Gas, an LPG Distribution Company which she commenced upon completion of her Bachelor’s degree in 2018.
Ethel Laurel Akafful, being a problem solver, recognized 3 challenges in the LPG distribution system: safety, accessibility, and convenience. She noticed that consumers often had to travel long distances with heavy gas cylinders by public transport just to fill up their gas cylinders incurring huge costs. Her company thus helps to alleviate this challenge. They purchase and distribute gas on behalf of consumers to their homes or a place of their choice.
.Her company also recognized that LPG was not stored or handled properly which causes injuries and threatens the lives of consumers. Her company thus offers safety examination and education in homes to ensure the safety of LPG right from refilling to maintenance.
“If you go to the gas station and the pump (of the gas cylinder) has been tampered with, you wouldn’t know. We make sure you get value for your money. We buy the gas on your behalf and we transport it conveniently and safely,” Ethel Laurel Akafful said in an interview.
“We help you fix your cylinder, offer advice on what to do when we detect faults, we check the position of your cylinder, check regulator, valve, etc.,” she added.
Services of Laurel Gas include:
• L-Swap & L-Refill: “ convenient door to door delivery of LPG to homes, institutions, and commercial facilities. Upon request through a direct call, social media, or the webpage, a filled cylinder will be delivered either instantly or scheduled at your doorstep.”
• L- installation: “ well-trained gas engineers to provide household LPG installation of appliances and a standardized siting of cylinders, taking into account all the necessary safety procedures to use LPG for diverse purposes safely and conveniently, even beyond cooking.”
• L-Maintain: “expert gas engineers to provide regular maintenance of burners, generators, clothes dryers, ovens, and LPG installations.”
‘So every innovation, every new thing we are doing in the industry is towards a safer and affordable means of getting LPG for homes and offices,” Laurel Ethel Akafful stated.