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.