Tony Atta has taken over from Chike Onyejekwe as the Managing Director of SNEPCO, the subsidiary of Shell Petroleum responsible for Nigeria’s prolific deepwater operations.
He takes the job at a time when there has been breakthrough in the process of taking the Bonga South West -Aparo (BSWAP) to first oil. The Final Investment Decision for this 600MMBO field, located in 800 metres of water, has not been taken, but if his tenure stretches over three years, he may be the one in charge when the field comes on line.
A 1987 graduate of mechanical engineering from the University of Benin, on the west flank of Nigeria’s delta region, Atta was, until this assignment, Vice President of Human Resources at Shell Sub Saharan Africa where he focused on talent development and resourcing the business to maintain competitive edge while providing support to the company as a business leader.
His main claim to public notice in Nigeria was as Vice President Health Safety, Environment, Sustainable development and Corporate Affairs (including Communications, Crisis and Reputation Management), a position he held for two years. It was in this role that he stared down critics of environmental and community engagement of major oil companies operating in Nigeria. At the Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja in February 2012, he famously declared: “there’s high criminality in the Niger Delta region masquerading as environmental and communal activism”. That comment made him come across, to some, as a little insensitive. But in Shell, Mr. Atta’s star has shone even more.
SNEPCO’s new boss has come a long way since he left Sokoto Cement company in 1991 to work for the Anglo Dutch major. He started with various technical roles in field maintenance, production operations, core engineering and major projects commissioning and rotating equipment engineering roles, and became head of Joint Venture Economics in Commercial – Business planning and Economics in 2001. In 2005, he was appointed asset superintendent and operations manager of the Soku Gas plant, which supplied ~50% of the initial volume of gas to the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas project. He went to the Netherlands in 2007 as regional manager for operations readiness and assurance, as well as account manager for Exploration Production and Gas (EPG) Africa projects as well as pre-start-up assurance manager for the Russian Sakhalin project. He returned to Nigeria in 2009 to take the job of General Manager Western Location and Sustainable Development – External Focus. The divisional General Manager job is usually the incubator position to the highest management jobs in Shell Nigeria.