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All articles in the Petroleum People Section:


Isabel’s The New Sonangol Chief, But She Won’t Succeed Her Father

By Toyin Akinosho

Isabel dos Santos’ appointment as Chief Executive of Sonangol, Angola’s ultra powerful state hydrocarbon company, provides Western journalists more evidence for their theory that Africa’s richest businesswoman will succeed her father as President of the continent’s second largest oil producer.isa_santos_a

Indeed, Ms. Dos Santos’ takeover of the company from the dour Francisco de Lemos José Maria comes after her recent job as head of the commission on the restructuring of the entire oil sector, including Sonangol. As she has been handling assignments of increasing responsibility in the last two years, she has been wielding more influence in the polity.

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Akinyanju Gets the Top Oil Job at GE West Africa

Efundoyin Akinyanju has been appointed Chief Executive Officer GE Oil &Gas for West and Central Africa. In this role, she will lead, grow and implement GE Oil and Gas strategy in the region. Ms. Akinyanju’s last job was Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) Subsaharan Africa for GE Oil and Gas.

Until she moved to GE, in August 2015, Doyin was Sales and Marketing manager for Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea at Schlumberger, the world’s top oil service firm. This was the job she took up on return “home” to Nigeria after a two year assignment in East Africa where, as Country Manager Kenya and Ethiopia, she essentially established the Schlumberger office. It’s instructive that those months: August 2012 to April 2014, were coincidentally the defining years for the opening up of Kenya as a significant E&P space. Ms. Akinyanju’s brief was to lead, manage and grow Schlumberger business in a region where the company never had a footprint.Part of the job was to build strong client relationships, manage industry affairs and interface with government agencies. It was probably her breakthrough period as a career oil and gas business strategist, but she would not respond to questions.


Alastair Leaves, Jersing Wields More Power At Sterling

Alastair Beardsall has retired from the position of Executive Chairman of Sterling Energy Plc,  for personal reasons. He is succeeded by Nicholas Clayton, who will only serve as Non Executive Chairman. In effect, Eskil Jersing,  the Chief Executive Officer, will be more powerful.

Beardsall spent six years at Sterling. He presided over the string of asset acquisitions around Africa that the AIM listed junior has pursued in the last three years.  Mr. Beardsall also retires from the board.

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NNPC Restructuring: Baru, Alegbe and Sejebor In Loss Of Power

By Sully Manope, in Lagosgggg

In the reshuffle of the Nigerian state hydrocarbon company NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry announced March 10, 2016, three key personnel were shunted to positions that are far less influential than their previous posts. Maikanti Baru, Group Executive Director in charge of the all powerful E&P unit, widely regarded as the Deputy position to the Group Managing Director’s office, was moved “downstairs” to the post of Technical Adviser Gas (Ministry of Petroleum Resources).

Baru’s name was so visible in its absence among the names of the managers of the NNPC that the initial reaction in the industry was that he had been asked to retire. Here was someone who, less than a month ago, was widely rumoured as having been appointed the Group Managing  Director (GMD). Did he lose out due to sheer ambition?

Ohi Alegbe, former broadcaster and poet, who was quite self-effacing as Group General Manager, Public Affairs, was moved to the less than ubiquitous Corporate Social Responsibility Unit and was replaced by Mohammed  Deen Garba, President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors.

The Group General Manager (GGM) NAPIMS has been, for most of the last 30 years of NNPC, the real power base in the upstream, outside the GMD’s office.  Dafe Sejebor, the career geoscientist who’d occupied that position for the past seven months was neither relieved of his job nor shunted aside like Baru and Alegbe. Instead, the entire NAPIMS itself was rolled into the GMD’s office, which is now considerably large, encompassing Government and Labour Relations, Efficiency Unit, Corporate Social Responsibility and the Legal Division. Mr. Sejebor is not running an independent unit as it once was.


Kachikwu Appoints Gbite Adeniji; Tim Okon Returns

Ibe Kachikwu, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, has appointed Gbite Adeniji, a widely respected private sector oil and gas lawyer, as the new Senior Technical Adviser, Upstream &Gas. He has also appointed Tim Okon, former Group Coordinator, Corporate Planning & Strategy at the Nigerian state hydrocarbon company, NNPC, as Special Adviser on Fiscal Strategy in the Ministry of Petroleum.

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Akinosho Wins the Distinguished Contribution to Industry Award

By Sully Manope, in Cape Town
Toyin Akinosho, Publisher of Africa Oil+Gas Report, received the top award of the latest edition of the “Big Five Awards” conferred on distinguished oil industry players at the annual Africa Oil Week in Cape Town.
The one week conference is the most prestigious gathering of operators and regulatory authorities on the continent.

The awards are named after the big five game animals of the African Jungle; as oil exploration is often described as hunting for game. The term big five game was coined by big-game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. They are the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros.

On the 18th anniversary of the awards, Duncan Clarke, Chairman and CEO of Global Pacific & Partners, organisers of the 22 year old conference, announced the 2015 winners for their contribution to excellence in Africa’s petroleum industry. The winners included:

(1) Distinguished Contribution To The African Industry
Toyin Akinosho, Publisher, Africa Oil+Gas Report
The Elephant is the largest living land animal and Africa’s true King of the Savannah. Toyin Akinosho has over 27 years of oil industry experience, 20 of them spent as petroleum geologist with wide and increasingly diverse experience in Chevron, where he retired in 2008. He publishes the widely read Africa Oil+Gas Report, which has shown uncommon courage and candour in its coverage of the industry. Toyin has demonstrated keen interpretation of issues and trends in the technology, fiscal and strategic aspects of the oil industry, leading his magazine to establish rankings of top independent foreign and local producers and spotting the emergence of African indigenous independents. This award is particularly granted for his having the courage of his convictions.

(2) Contribution To African Petroleum & Excellence
Mick McWalter, Advisor at Large
The Lion is a African Predator, and McWalter, with  over 35 years post graduate industry experience , has shown appetite for new oil and new ways of seeing things since he started exploration logging in Asia and the South Pacific in 1980.

(3) Independent Player In Africa 2015
Cairn Energy. The Leopard is a survivor and predator, with much skill. With its basin opening discovery in largely underrated Senegal in 2014 and an aggressive follow up, Cairn is clearly the lead hunter in the African wild. At a time that the continent’s discovery is either large gas finds in deep waters or oil in thousands of kilometres to the coast, the London listed player has delivered a major oil discovery offshore.

(4) African National Oil Company 2015
GEPetrol, the state hydrocarbon company of Equatorial Guinea has acted like a Rhino, solid and commanding and tenacious. In a tough year, it has continued with the work of ensuring that the small Island nation remains one of the top hydrocarbon producers in a continent booming with new discoveries.

(5) Service & Supply 2015
MGGS BV(Mark Guillon, Director/Owner)
Mark Guillon, founder of the Marine Geological and Geophysical Services BV,  has, like the Buffalo been tough and persistent.

Outside of the Big Five and the Legend Award, the African Institute of Petroleum gave the 7th Annual Conrad Gerber Award for research and intellectual contribution to Africa to Requier Wait of KPMG, in recognition for the development a structure to evaluate petroleum fiscal systems in Africa; Global Women Petroleum &Energy Club conferred the Woman in Africa Award, 2015to Dianne Sutherland, owner, publisher and Chief Editor, Petroleum Africa. The PetroAfricanus Club awarded the Chief Executive of Styx Energy its Lifetime Achievement Award. His name was not included on the reference material.

….Meanwhile, Peter Dolan is the Legend

Peter Dolan, founder and adviser of Ophir Energy, and chairman of Ikon Science, the subsurface service company, was presented with the Global Pacific & Partners award “Africa Oil Legend, 2015” at the recent Africa Oil Week conference. Africa Oil Week is the landmark, industry conference for Africa, held annually in Cape Town, this year attracting nearly 1,500 delegates, including high level executives, government Ministers and representatives.

Peter is the third recipient of the Africa Oil Legend award which is presented to those who have been involved in, and supported, the E & P sector throughout Africa: in Peter’s case it has been for over 40 years.
Separately, Peter was the guest speaker at the 71st PetroAfricanus Club dinner in Cape Town where his subject was “Africa’s Independents: 50 Years and Counting”.

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Yetunde Bajela-Taiwo is Seplat’s New Head of Gas Business

Yeetunde Bajela TaiwoYetunde Bajela-Taiwo has been appointed the Head of Gas Business at Seplat, the continent’s largest homegrown hydrocarbon producer. In that position, she will oversee the development of one of the fastest growing domestic gas businesses in Nigeria. Taiwo was, until August 2015, the General Manager, Planning at NAPIMS, the Investment arm of Nigerian state hydrocarbon company NNPC. She was a member of the second-level management cadre that was retired as Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state at the Petroleum Ministry, swept into office as Group Managing Director of NNPC.

Bajela-Taiwo was head of planning and economics at Seplat before she joined NNPC in 2013, as NAPIMS’ GM Planning.Now her role in Seplat has a higher profile. The NPDC/Seplat Joint Venture, which Seplat operates, is currently the third largest supplier of gas to the domestic market, after the NNPC/Chevron JV and the NPDC/NDWestern JV.

As Seplat expands its operated gas production capacity from 300Million standard cubic feet per day to 525MMscf/d, Taiwo will be overseeing the business growth. “The gas business will pull in a third of our overall revenue”, says Austin Avuru, Seplat’s Chief Executive Officer. He had released Mrs. Bajela-Taiwo to NNPC “to help them in strengthening capacity”, Mr. Avuru says. “But when they asked her to leave, I wondered if they really were keen on retaining talent. I simply asked her to come back”.

Bajela-Taiwo’s forced retirement from NNPC, along with some of what oil industry watchers had come to see as “the selected tenth” of the NNPC, including Tim Okon-Group Coordinator, Corporate Planning & Strategy, David Ige- the nerdy, Group executive Director in charge of Gas Power and Victor Briggs, also a former GM Planning at NAPIMS, cast a cloud of doubt on the quality of the mass retirement that Mr. Kachikwu executed at NNPC. The fact that all these people were poached from the major companies less than 10 years ago helps the argument that long-time NNPC staff took advantage of the new administration, to push out non-NNPC types who were recruited, in the first place, to strengthen the corporation’s capacity.

Bajela-Taiwo joined Chevron Nigeria Limited in 1991, straight from Youth Service, as a reservoir engineer. By the time she left the American major, for BG, in 2007, she was a planning advisor at the company’s Asset Management Division. She worked for BG as Economics manager before she showed up at Seplat in May 2011 as head of planning and economics.


Graham Martin, A Director of Tullow for 18 Years, Moves on

Graham Martin, a director of Tullow for the past 18 years and its Company Secretary, will retire from the company following the Group’s next Annual General Meeting, which is expected to be held on 28 April 2016. Mr. Martin has also resigned from the position of Company Secretary with effect from 1 January 2016.

The Board has appointed Kevin Massie, currently Corporate Counsel and Deputy Company Secretary at Tullow, to the role of Company Secretary.


Bongani Will Be Sasol’s First Black CEO

By Darlington Ncube, in Cape Town

..Part of efforts to be transformation-compliant in post-apartheid South Africa.

Bongani Nqwababa, recruited from Anglo American Platinum in 2014,

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Taiwo Olusina Is the New Helmsman at Conoil Producing

By John Ankromah, in Warri

Nigerian independent executes a generational and ideological change at the top

Taiwo Olusina has made the transition from asset manager at Afren to the very top of Conoil Producing. He took over from Ebi Omatsola, the iconic explorationist who built the company from scratch. Dr. Omatsola has moved on to be a Non- Executive Director of Mike Adenuga and Co, a sister company to Conoil and the telecoms giant Glo, both owned by the enigmatic Nigerian businessman Mike Adenuga.

The handover of the levers of Conoil Producing from 73 year old Omatsola to 48 year old Olusina, is interesting as much for the age difference as it is for the contrasting backgrounds of the two men. A passionate explorer, Omatsola was Chief Geologist at Shell when he left to work at Conoil in 1990. Although Conoil ended up being largely a production company, (2014 average, ~ 9,000BOPD), Omatsola’s personal, ongoing interest, has remained how to look for radically new ways to find oil.

He is the co-creator of the escalator regression model, a comprehensive explanation of the architecture of the Niger Delta basin. He is widely regarded as the continent’s foremost exploration thinker.  In his last three years at the company, Conoil turned up a string of discoveries at the mouth of the Niger Delta basin and in the south east offshore.

It is also instructive that Omatsola was fond of criticizing drilling engineers for not being faithful to the play concept that the average well is meant to probe. In private, he would make such jokes as “Is he a driller?” This is why it is deeply ironic that the man to take over from him after 25 years is a career drilling engineer.

Mr Olusina’s profile was forged in the crucible of ExxonMobil’s globally reputed drilling department. A supremely self-assured man, he has over 24 years’ experience on the oil patch. His experience covers project and design management; operations, drilling and completions management.

A member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Olusina has worked extensively in Nigeria and the United States. None of the two men returned our telephone calls. Omatsola’s shoes may be enormous ones to fill, but Olusina’s remit is clear: double the production at Conoil in the first two years and seek to quadruple it in the five year term. Those who know that former asset manager for Ebokfield  insist that there are no challenges he can’t handle.

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