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All articles in the Petroleum People Section:


Surprise: Meziane Is Under Probe

Mohamed Meziane, CEO of Sonatrach, the Algerian state hydrocarbon company, is one of several company officials under judicial investigation. Chakib Khelil, the country’s flambouyant Energy and Mines Minister, told the press in mid January 2010 that Sonatrach Vice-President Abdelhafid Feghouli “has replaced him for the moment.”

It looks like “the moment” is going to stretch a bit. Mr Khelil says he does not know if the investigation into Meziane, and several other senior Sonatrach executives, could have an impact on the firm’s operations. “We should wait a year and then we shall see.”

Sonatrach is the world’s 12th largest petroleum company and the most profitable NOC on the continent. It is the national petroleum champion for Algeria, which supplies about 20% of Europe’s gas needs.

Meziane was appointed in September 2003 to head the firm, which employs 125,000 people. Sonatrach made a profit of $9.2 billion in 2008 for an annual turnover of $80.8 billion, according to its last financial report. The company accounts for 98 percent of the foreign exchange earnings of the North African country.

An examining magistrate ordered Meziane as well as another company vice president and five executives to appear before him concerning allegations of corruption in company tenders for consultancy and security contracts, the El Watan and El Khabar newspapers reported.

Two other Sonatrach vice presidents, the former president of a bank and his son, as well as two children of Meziane and a private businessman have already been detained as part of the probe, El Watan said.

Numerous foreign companies operate in Algeria in partnership with Sonatrach, including TOTAL and GDF (France), Repsol (Spain), Rosneft (Russia), ENI (Italy), BP (Britain), Statoil Hydro (Norway), Anadarko (US) and CNPC (China).

It is rare in Algeria, for officials of Meziane’s ranking to be under probe. The ruling political elite in Algeria is a tight knit group


Frank Timis On The Hunt For Liberian Treasure

Frank Timis hopes his London based firm, African Petroleum (not any relationship with the Nigerian company of the same name), will have the best portfolio in West Africa, “better than Tullow Oil, better than any of the giants,” within the next six months.

He has raised up to at least $200million to list the company, the vehicle with which he hopes to exploit resources in deepwater Liberia and Sierra Leone.

African Petroleum owns the rights to two deepwater blocks in the two countries. The founder expects the company to acquire several other big blocks soon. And whereas the company has yet to drill a well, the Romanian born millionaire is confident of imminent fortune. “If even two of our seven or eight blocks work, we will be a $20 billion company overnight,” he told the Times of London.

There’s some data available to give people like Timis enough courage to take money from others and invest it in acreages in deepwater Liberia and Sierra Leone. In the first deepwater test in the Sierra Leone-Liberian Basin, American independent Anadarko encountered more than 45 net feet of hydrocarbon pay in September 2009. The Venus

B-1 well was drilled to a total depth of approximately 18,500 feet in about 5,900 feet of water i in block SL 6107 offshore Sierra Leone. Anardako said the Venus prospect is one of its “more than 30 identified prospects and leads on its West Africa acreage position, which includes interests in almost 8 million acres across 10 blocks offshore Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana”. The company said that with Jubilee on the east (Ghana) and Venus on the west (Sierra Leone), with Liberia in between, it has “ established bookends spanning approximately 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) across two of the most exciting and highly prospective basins in the world”.

That’s the kind of claim that could draw investors to African Petroleum. But there are problems.

The former head of Regal Petroleum, which was handed the largest ever fine by the Alternative Investment Market in London, is having an issue with the management of the London Stock Exchange, which has halted the flotation of the company, because of concerns about Timis’ controversial past.

Officials at the stock exchange told Timis’s advisers in December 2009 that the float could not go ahead if he had a position on the board. Their decision was based on his role at Regal Petroleum, an oil firm whose share price collapsed in 2005 after it emerged that its giant oilfields were unviable. Timis was chief executive at the time.

Investors lost millions of dollars after investing in Regal. The company produced a series of misleading announcements between January and April 2004 relating to a failed Greek oil well that led to a fine of $l million on November 17, 2009.

The new company, Africa Petroleum, will include assets off the Liberian coast that have been the target of a reverse takeover by Indonesia-focused Sound Oil, which had its shares suspended in October.

Mirabaud Securities was advising on the AIM listing, which should have taken place before Christmas 2009. But the London Stock Exchange wants Mr. Timis’ name out of the company’s board before it can allow the floatation.  If London doesn’t  want him, he told the Times of London, he will go elsewhere, perhaps to Toronto or Hong Kong.  “London’s not the only exchange,” he said, before adding with a laugh.  “I may buy one in Africa,” the newspaper reported.


Shukri Is Back On Seat

Shukri Ghanem, the chairman of Libya’s state hydrocarbon company NOC, whose “resignation” was widely reported in the business press, is back on the job, in the public eye and fully in charge. The NOC website gleefully reports his leading a Libyan delegation to the Council of Ministers of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) in Cairo, Egypt.

Dr Ghanem met with Ms Sandra McCardell, the Canadian Ambassador to Libya in late December 2009, before he led another delegation of Libyan officials to represent the country at the ministerial meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) held at the Angolan capital Luanda on December 22, 2009.

The website reports that the meeting with the Canadian diplomat explored the possibility of Libyan participation at the International Petroleum Exhibition to be held in the province of Alberta, Canada in June 2010. “The activity of Canadian companies operating in Libya and the desire of other Canadian companies to engage in exploration and production projects with the National Oil Corporation” was also discussed.

Ghanem was accompanied to the OPEC meeting by Ahmed Mohamed Al Ghaber, Libyan Governor at the cartel, Omar Mohammed Ghazal, the Libyan National Representative at the Economic Committee Ahmed Eljaroushi the former Libyan Representative at the Economic Committee Musbah, Ali Matouk General Manager of Administration and Services , and Mohammed Mahmoud Bin kura Coordinator of (OPEC) Office.

Those who accompanied the NOC Chairman to the OAPEC meeting in Cairo included Ali El Sogher Mohammed Saleh, General Manager of NOC, Mohamed Kamel Alzendah Libyan representative of the Executive Office of the Organization, Omran Abukrah General Manager of Arab Company for drilling, Ibrahim Abudreadah General Manager, Human Resources Development and Mr. Jamal Talha.


Ex OPEC Secretary General Named NNPC Chief

For the second time in 18 months, Nigeria has fired the group managing director of the state hydrocarbon company, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC. The latest appointee to the insecure position is Mohammed Barkindo, a former Acting Secretary General of the elite Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC). Mr Barkindo, who was Coordinator of Special Duties at the NNPC, took over from his boss, Lawal Yar’adua.

The appointment, though made by President Umar Yar’adua, took place less than a month into the appointment of Mr Rilwanu Lukman, as minister of Petroleum. Businessday, Nigeria’s influential financial daily, interpretes it as a Lukman move, but Mr Barkindo has operated at the very top echelon of Nigerian oil industry for some time. He was at various times head of the London office of the NNPC, Deputy Managing Director at the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited and Managing Director of Hyson and Carlson, a joint venture between Vitol and the NNPC, which lifts more than a quarter million barrels of Nigeria’s crude oil daily. The new NNPC chief holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, and an MBA from South-eastern University in Washington DC.


Vincente Gets A Fourth Chance

The Angolan government has re-appointed Manuel Vicente to a fourth three-year term as chairman of state-owned oil company Sonangol, a spokesman for the company said today.

Vicente will oversee the construction of an $8 billion liquefied natural gas plant in Soyo and a new refinery in Lobito, wrote Reuters, the global news agency. Sonangol is also expected to be listed on the Luanda Stock Exchange, which is due to be established in 2009. Angola rivals Nigeria as sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producer, pumping almost 2 million barrels per day.

 


What Are They Doing Now?

Osten  Olorunsola was the reserves and technology manager for Shell Regional directorate, E P Africa until May 2008. He was high enough in the management of the Anglo Dutch major, to represent the Managing Director of the major subsidiary Nigeria at key functions. Now, he is the strategic Business Adviser to the country’s Minister of State for Petroleum.

In what’s seen as quite a routine with Shell and the Nigerian government, he was seconded to the ministry. It doesn’t happen like this with other majors. In their book, The Next Gulf; London, Washington and Oil Conflict in Nigeria, the authors Andrew Rowell, James Marriott and Lorne Stockman, argue that Shell management is inextricably tied to the Nigerian government that its difficult sometimes to determine which is which. It is the sort of appointments like Olorunsola’s that they refer to. But is this not a flawed conspiracy theory?


Chevron Appoints First Nigerian Deputy M.D

Ezekiel “Supo” Shadiya has been appointed to the position of Director NNPC/CNL Joint Venture in Chevron Nigeria Mid-Africa Strategic Business Unit.

The position is Chevron’s Number 2 job in Nigeria and it’s the first time a Nigerian

is stepping into it. Shadiya succeeds, and reports to Andrew Fawthrop, whose appointment as Managing Director was recently announced.

The Chevron Nigeria portfolio is the second largest in Africa after Angola, where Chevron’s production has exceeded the output of the Nigerian unit for upwards of three years.

Chevron’s decision to put an African in a deputy MD position follows examples by Shell, ExxonMobil and TOTAL.

But Shadiya’s position is powerful, as it oversees the entire JV portfolio.  In terms of capacity, it is in excess of 350,000BOPD gross.

Shadiya received his Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Nsukka in 1979, his Master’s degree in Geophysics from the University of London in 1981 and his Master’s in Business Administration from Saint Mary’s College of California in 1996. He joined Chevron in 1983, as an Exploration Geophysicist and has held numerous technical and management positions of increasing responsibility.

Ali  Moshiri, the corporation’s President  in charge of Africa, said that the decision was based on “the broad leadership and technical skills, business acumen, and Chevron Way behaviors of this highly  respected individual”. The decision was taken by the corporation’s Global Upstream & PDC and the Human Resources Committee (HRC).


Bio Therm Elects Former Eskom CEO As Chairman

Allen Morgan has been appointed as chairperson of South Africa’s renewable and clean energy generation project developer Bio Therm Energy.

Morgan served as CEO of Eskom, the country’s power utility, from 1994 until 2000 and is currently a non executive director of the power utility and JSE.listed Kumba Iron Ore. He will continue to serve on the Eskom board. Bio Therm recently announced a $228Million equity commitment by Denham Capital. Bio-Therm was founded in 2003 and has a significant project pipeline in the energy recovery, clean and renewable energy field in South Africa.

“Allen is highly respected for his contributions to both Eskom and the electricity sector in South Africa. We are fortunate to have someone of his stature joining our team at this critical juncture in the global and domestic economy,” said Bio Therm Energy founder and CEO Charles Liebenberg.

“It’s going to be exciting to be part of a young and growing company at this stage of its development,” stated Morgan.

Bio Therm Energy makes use of carbon finance as created by Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol (the Clean Development Mechanism) to finance projects.

The company is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and develops, owns and operates turnkey energy waste to energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the sub-utility range of 5 MW to 100 MW.


It’s Competence, Not Skin Colour

By Fred Akanni, Editor-in-Chief

Baker Hughes’ First African born Country Director in Nigeria says he is proud to be a local..

IF IMAGERY WERE WHAT THE JOB WAS all about, Tayo Akinokun would determine that his stint in Algeria, North Africa was the best in his 18 year career with Baker Hughes, the ranking oil field service technology provider.

It was a decade ago now (1998) and Akinokun was a Senior field engineer who flew in “those tiny planes”, and was dropped on various airstrips close to well sites and was taxied straight to locations to lead field crews in deployment of the latest technology in Electric Wireline Logging services for the acquisition of various forms of petrophysical data.

The view from the sky was an endless stretch of desert sands, barbed wire fencing the wells, gendarmes guarding the fences and oil workers of various tones of skin colour. “Unlike in Norway (an earlier assignment) which was mostly Norwegians, the workers here were French, Arabs, Americans, Africans, you know, like colours of the rainbow”, he recalls.

But the images that come back to him, most vividly, were those of the rock formations. In Algeria, the essential rock sequences are carbonates. “I was acquiring an image log and it looked like a movie. The fractures in the formation leap at you”. In acquiring the acoustic log “you cold easily see the changes in the “acoustic travel time” very vividly”, this signifies essentially varying lithologies.

Akinokun joined Baker Hughes straight out of National Youth Service (a mandatory, one year post-graduation, quasi military service in Nigeria) in 1990. For a fresh bachelor’s degree holder in Electrical engineering, the opportunities, in his own words, were there to work in any service or E&P company”. He chose Baker Hughes because it was a place he thought he could make a difference. “The service companies are good building blocks. They roughen you up and build you for the future. Yours is just to perform”. Before long he was leading and supervising crews as a young wireline logging engineer.

Four years into his career he was transferred to Norway as a field engineer in the North Sea. Algeria, in North Africa, came after three years in Norway.

As this is the country that hosts the wealthiest state hydrocarbon company on the continent, this magazine is keen on what Akinokun has to say by way of experience in Algeria.

“There were lots of issues with security when I was there. But it’s like any other place-Nigeria, the United States-if you go to the wrong place you are dead meat.”

He went to Algeria because he “wanted to gather a lot of experience in a different environment”. He worked on various locations operated by various multinational operators and all operated out of Hassi Messoud.

Akinokun’s first management job came after the Algerian experience. He was appointed Operations Manager in Port Harcourt for one of Baker Hughes’ operating divisions, Baker Atlas in 1999 and then his career really took off.

“It was the first time I was managing as many as a hundred people”. He became a sales manager thereafter, a job which, in the upstream oil service company sector, is considered elitist, as it focuses on customers. The job description was Customer Service Manager, Baker Atlas, Port  Harcourt Nigeria. This was to prove a step to a bigger, more strategic sales & marketing job in Houston which, if you look closely at the CV, might have been the training ground for his current position.

In Houston, Akinokun worked as the Senior Technical adviser in the Baker Atlas Global Marketing Group. He was deeply involved in new tool development across the corporation, in the justification to build new technology services. “My job was to initially provide technical and financial justification to senior management for investment in specific new technology work and subsequently work with the scientists to intimate them with what the external customers wanted and interface with internal customers who engage with outside customers”. When a product reached the testing stage, Akinokun’s job was look for a candidate field, anywhere in the world, to test the product, receive the test data as collated from the field, engage the scientists again in refining the tool/product and then help in the deployment in the market. “I was traveling to every corner of the globe doing this job. It allowed me to know the corporation extensively”.  That job provided the greatest opportunity for exposure and global networking and was probably the leeway and to his present position.

He returned to Nigeria in 2004, as Business Development Manager for Baker Hughes in Port Harcourt. The following year he became the Deputy Country Director for Nigeria, a job which, with the benefit of insight, has proven to be just a stewardship for the current job.

Now he runs all of the Nigerian operations which consist of approximately 400 staff, taking over from Phil Vogel, who was the Country Director until December 2007.

In a sense, Akinokun’s rise to Baker Hughes’ top job in Nigeria feels like a breeze and it’s clearly atypical, in the international segment of the oil service sector in Nigeria, let alone in the major E&P companies, where technical people throw big parties if they make it to field superintendent at 50 and go for huge thanksgiving services, if they become General Manager of any unit at all, at age 55. “I have never been stagnated”, he notes. “Every two years, something happens”.

He quickly chips in that he’s not telling what will happen in 2010. “I have an assignment to further develop, stabilize and reposition the organization for bigger successes in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Does that include, we ask him, getting an African, or a Nigerian for that matter, ready to succeed him? “It could well be a Nigerian as we have several bright Nigerian rising stars working for us both in Nigeria and around the world, but as an International multinational Company with several nationalities it doesn’t have to be a Nigerian”, he says. “The way we operate; the Country Director’s role is about the skill set, competencies and experience just like a Nigerian with the right skill set could lead the business in any of our locations and countries around the world”

If I can get here, anyone else can and it is not a matter of skin colour. Baker Hughes employs more than 34,000 people around the globe.

The Baker Hughes workforce in Nigeria is 90% Nigerian and 10% Expatriate. “Several Nigerians are also making a great career as key players in our international locations around the world”, he contends. “Training and development is a culture well entrenched in our organization which has contributed greatly to our success story. All our young engineers right from the first day at work are scheduled to attend training programmes in our educational training centres spread across the United States, the United Kingdom and the Middle East where they have the opportunity to compete and learn along with other international employees from several countries. A process which continues all through our career”.

Akinokun explains that the company has operated in Nigeria for 40 years and has been in the forefront of the development of the skill set and critical mass required for the development of our industry through the recruitment and training of young Nigerian graduate engineers who have eventually blossomed over the years to be key players at various levels of leadership across the industry.  “Such has been the case with my career and development over the last 18 years”.

 


Kingsley Is Crowned King Of NAPE

IN NOVEMBER 2005, Kingsley Ojoh earned the prestigious fellowship of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Africa’s largest umbrella organization of petroleum professionals. He took the award a few months after he became Executive General Manager, Geoscience and Reservoir Engineering(GSR) at TOTAL’s Nigerian upstream subsidiary. In just a year after the fellowship award, he was elected President-Elect of the association, in a keenly contested election in which he beat the association’s former vice president, Victor Agbe -Davies, who is Exploration Manager at Amni, the Nigerian independent oil producer. As President-Elect, Ojoh will work for the next one year with the substantive NAPE president, Emmanuel Enu, incidentally his former teacher at the Obafemi Awolowo University 27 years ago.

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