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Ojo Grabs The Reins Of NAPE

Africa’s largest body of petroleum professionals has elected a new leader. Jide Ojo, who is general manager of Exploration for Addax’s Nigerian subsidiaries, is the new President of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Exlorationists (NAPE).

Established in 1975, NAPE has grown over the years into the foremost Oil and Gas geoscience professional organisation and has consistently taken a central role in influencing policy decisions. The association also sustains a platform for individuals as well as corporate entities to further both socio-strategic and technical interactions to leverage competitive advantage in the Oil and Gas industry. NAPE membership transcends academia as well as the Oil & Gas, Mining and Energy sectors within and outside Nigeria. The Association is an affiliate of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and is supported by a large number of corporate entities which champion its programmes.

A graduate of the University of Ibadan, Jide Ojo served as NAPE’s Vice-President and Ex-Officio member from 1996 to 1997. In 2010, he became the President-Elect of the Association as well as the Chairman, of the Planning Committee of the recently concluded Regional Deepwater Offshore West Africa Conference.

This event, a collaboration between the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists  (AAPG), featured workshops, oral as well as poster presentations and short courses which focused on successes, challenges and future prospects of the West African deepwater and ultra deepwater terrains. The five-day programme was attended by over 1,000 leading global industry players and stakeholders.

Mr. Ojo is a certified  Petroleum Geologist with over 30 years of local and international work  experience in the Oil and Gas industry.


Ogunbiyi Takes Hold Of FHN

First Hydrocarbon Nigeria Limited has appointed Constantine ‘Labi’ Ogunbiyi as Chief Executive of the  Company.  FHN was established in 2009 by Afren, the UK listed operator and some Nigerian partners, with the objective of increasing indigenous involvement in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry by acquiring and developing substantial oil and gas assets in Nigeria from the joint ventures between the Nigerian government and international operating companies. The Company has announced its initial acquisition, subject to regulatory and government approval, of the Oil Mining Lease(OML) 26 from the Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) Joint Venture in October 2010.

Mr Ogunbiyi was appointed following a request from the company’s Board of Directors to Afren Plc that he be released to focus on the growth and development of FHN, as the Company seeks to establish itself as a leading indigenous player in the upstream oil and gas sector in Nigeria.

Constantine Ogunbiyi became an Executive Director of Afren on 3rd January 2008 and was part of the management team that established the Company in late 2004. In his role as Executive Director he was responsible for business development, growth and strategy at the Company and was instrumental in the establishment of FHN, its capital raising efforts and its subsequent acquisition of an interest in OML 26 In Nigeria.


Centrica Boss Moves On To SEPLAT

Stuart Connal, who, only last June was briefing the press about the changes in status of Centrica’s operations in Nigeria, is now working for SEPLAT. The former managing director of the Nigerian subsidiary of the British Gas company resumed as the Chief Operating Officer at the Nigerian Independent, around November 2010. He reports directly to Austin Avuru, SEPLAT’s CEO and Managing Director. Connal is well liked by the Nigerian media, who find him easily accessible and engaging.


CEES UIJLEN HOED, A BIO

A Dutch national with over 10 years of living in Nigeria. Married to a Nigerian lady from Onitsha. Three daughters who have all lived in Nigeria, but currently in The Hague (Holland) because there is no Dutch education in that West African country. They visit regularly.

Studied and graduated at University of Amsterdam where Cees read economics.

Joined Shell in 1982 and had a long career in general management and finance. Left Holland in 1985 to work in such places as Saudi Arabia, Chile, London (UK), Dubai and Nigeria. Was the Finance Director for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria in 2004/5 and subsequently took up the position of Finance Director for Shell in Africa (E&P). Moved to Dubai to become Finance Director for Shell in the Middle East, Caspian and South-East Asia. Left Shell in 2009 to return to Nigeria and join Sahara to become their Group CFO. In the middle of 2010, took on the responsibility of CEO/Managing Director of the upstream/E&P companies of Sahara with the prime objective to expand the E&P business both in Nigeria, the rest of Africa and the Middle East.


Can Cees Win The Bet On Sahara?

 “I will take your money”, the Dutch National warns a Nigerian journalist.

Minutes after Cees Uijlenhoed concluded a press conference in which he spoke of Sahara Energy’s plans to commence oil production by July 2011, a reporter walked up to him, held his gaze and challenged him to a bet.

Uijlenhoed, CEO of Sahara Energy Fields, the Nigerian independent, took up the challenge.

“Come back later in the year and I’d take your money”, the Dutch national responded.

At stake was whether Sahara Energy Fields would, indeed, deliver on the promise it was making: to commence, within the year, field development on Oki field, one of the four undeveloped discoveries in the Oil Prospecting Lease(OPL) 274, its 870km2 land acreage in the northwest Niger Delta Basin. Mr Uijlenhoed had admitted, in the course of the conference, that as of the last week of January 2011, there was no rig contract in place for the development, a fact which made the claim of likely oil production by mid year quite a stretch. The Oki structure straddles the NPDC operated Oziengbe south, a producing field which lies on adjacent acreage. This is supposed to be a low hanging fruit. But Sahara has other such opportunities strewn all over the 5,994km2 of onshore and offshore acreage in which it has interests in the Niger Delta basin. One is the Tsekelewu field, another oil pool straddling a producing field, which the company has held for more than five years without either re-entry, nor new drilling. Reasons proffered for the inactivity on Tsekelwu field include the excessive militant activity in the swamp terrain.

Still, Cees Uijlendoed, a former CFO of Shell E&P Africa, is nothing if not but optimistic about Sahara Energy Field’s prospects. He believes there is a significant opportunity for a “credible radically change in the next five years and the domination of IOCs will diminish”.

When someone tried to take advantage of his pedigree and steer him to a discussion about why Shell left Angolan deepwater in the early 2000s, Uijlendoed returned the topic back to Sahara Energy: “Look, that is a big company”, he says of Shell. “Here in Sahara, we are smaller and focused on more specific things”. It is Sahara’s objective to step into the vacuum likely to be left by IOCs, in Nigeria he argues. “But also outside of Nigeria, the concept of a privately owned, ‘fast decision making’, credible E&P company resonates with host Governments because Sahara is focused on its partners, builds the relationship and aligns its interest with host Governments, It is not hindered by global portfolio considerations and rankings, like the IOCs, which make Country X the flavour of the month in one year but fail them the next”.

Sahara Energy Fields Ltd, part of the Sahara Group of Companies, represents the E&P sector for the group and has extensive interests in onshore and offshore blocks in Nigeria and Ghana.

Mr Uijlendoed’s speech was peppered with a rosy account of Sahara Energy’s place in the sun and the value the company was bringing to the table in its joint venture agreement with Azimuth Limited, a private limited company “currently being registered in Bermuda”. A joint statement by the two entities declared that Azimuth had purchased a license to view, under certain terms and conditions, the global multi client data library of Petroleum Geo-Services ASA (PGS), which contains “150,000km2 of 3D seismic data and “21,500km of 2D seismic data across West Africa. Azimuth was drawing on a pool of 85 technical experts, and was well positioned to analyse E&P assets throughout Africa and to develop credible bids for acquiring attractive properties”, the statement added.

Sahara Energy says that it has plans for seismic surveys in its “highly prospective acreage onshore and offshere Nigeria”, to “enhance prospectivity and thereafter seek improved farmout terms for drilling”.

“The agreement formalises a partnership between the two companies throughout West Africa — from Mauritania in the north to Namibia in the South (the Area of Mutual Interest). To leverage the strengths of both partners, Sahara and Azimuth will pool resources and collaborate openly when identifying and acquiring attractive E&P acreage. Where possible, and as appropriate, the partners will seek to utilize PGS’ proprietary technology — such as the industry-leading “GeoStreamer” seismic acquisition system — when developing acquired acreage. In all cases, Sahara will act as Operator on behalf of the partners when such a role is required by the terms of relevant Petroleum Contracts”.

What is key is that Sahara is well known for acquiring acreages. Now is the time to work up their development, because it is in field development work that the real value is added, in the form of job opportunities in communities, building local skills, and providing onsite services that accelerate neighbourhood economic development. When a government like Nigeria’s chooses to award acreage to an indigenous company like Sahara, it is hoping that the company can build the capacity to develop those assets as a truly Nigerian company. It is Nigeria who ultimately wins the bet if Sahara Energy goes through as operator of the Oki field and delivers first oil in good time as a Nigerian company.


Akinlawon Is SPE Chairman

Adeyemi Akinlawon has taken over as Chairman of the Nigerian executive council of the Society of Petroleum Engineers(SPE), a global organisation. It’s a big step from his being Vice Chairman,  Chairman – Elect 2009/2010. He was Steering Committee Member of the SPE Applied Technology Workshop on Lessons Learned in Deepwater Field Development in the Gulf of Guinea, Abuja,  Nigeria, held in December 2008.

Akinlawon participated as a Mentor in the SPE e-Mentoring Programme in 2007 and was also Chairman, Technical Papers Committee, SPE Nigeria Annual International Conference & Exhibition (NAICE). His day time job is as Manager, Gas Commercial at Chevron Nigeria. He has more than twenty- six years experience in the Oil and Gas industry, starting as a Graduate Assistant with the Department of Petroleum Engineering of the University of Ibadan in August 1983 after which he joined Texaco Overseas (Nigeria) Petroleum Company Unlimited (TOPCON) in April 1984, as a Petroleum Engineer. He worked with TOPCON up till December 2001, in several positions and increasing job responsibilities as: Petroleum Engineer, Reservoir Engineer, Senior Petroleum Engineer, Engineering Supervisor, Assistant Engineering Manager and Manager, Project Development before transferring employment to Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) in January 2002 after which he worked as Coordinator, Gas Commercialization and Manager, NNPC/DPR Relations (Deepwater & PSCs).


…Addax “Contributes” Two

Edward Skene, until recently GM, Business Services at Addax Petroleum in Nigeria, has joined SEPLAT as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). So has Bryte Oghor, who was GM HSE at Addax. Oghor will be overseeing a portfolio that includes Government and Community Relations.


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.

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