At Seplat, Okon Goes to ANOH; Mba Comes to Energy - Africa’s premier report on the oil, gas and energy landscape.

At Seplat, Okon Goes to ANOH; Mba Comes to Energy

Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc has moved Effiom “Effy” Okon from the position of Director, New Energy to the job of Managing Director of ANOH Gas Processing Company Limited (AGPC).

The company then appointed Okechukwu Mba, who was the MD of AGPC, as the new Director, New Energy.

AGPC is the Incorporated Joint Venture (IJV) between Seplat and the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). AGPC) Limited is a midstream gas company committed to processing Gas from Oil Mining Lease (OML) 53, onshore eastern Niger Delta, for distribution to the local market. Mba had been its CEO since January 1 2021.

When Okon joined Seplat in 2018 as Executive/Operations Director (OD), he was in line to succeed Austin Avuru as Managing Director. At least that was Avuru’s view. The board of directors, spearheaded by (then) chairman ABC Orjiako, thought different and organized a contest between Roger Brown, the company’s (then) Chief Finance Officer (CFO) and Okon, in which the latter lost to Brown.

Avuru recounts the experience in his memoir, My Entrepreneurial Journey:

Five expatriate Directors (that, including the Nigerian/British director) voted for the CFO, three Nigerians voted for the OD while one Nigerian Director abstained. In the nine years of the Company, we had never been so racially and bitterly divided on any issue. The Chairman declared the result final and I stormed out of the meeting. I had never felt that deep sense of betrayal by a partner in my life. I went back to my room where my wife was waiting. I told her I would announce my resignation that night and she forbade me from taking such a hasty decision, especially one taken in anger.

But why was I so incensed? Roger (the CFO) had worked with me for six years and he was a very trusted deputy with whom I had a strong and warm personal and working relationship. Clearly, I had nothing personal against him. I only met Effy (the OD) for the first time when he showed up for the interview. There was also nothing personal between us. I also did not believe that the Chairman planned and executed this elaborate coup d’état because he suddenly realized that Roger was the best man for the job. However, Roger, an expatriate who had been based in London as CFO and did not “have his boots on the ground” in Nigeria would provide the Chairman the opportunity he desperately needed to take almost total control of the company in the guise of supporting Roger. That control (or not having it) had been a perennial battle between us throughout my tenure as CEO.

Okon was subsequently dropped from the board and replaced with Samson Ezugworie, who was, like him, hired from Shell.

Roger Brown’s critics say that Mr. Okon was paying the price for contesting the CEO job with Mr. Brown, but his supporters argue that the New Energy Directorate, to which Okon was appointed to lead, was created in 2021 as part of Brown’s visioning for Seplat’s future, so the job wasn’t a token.

The directorate has, in the three years since Yetunde Taiwo pioneered its leadership and Okon succeeded her, assessed various midstream gas, power, and renewable investment opportunities that are focused on increasing energy supply and reliability, lowering costs, and reducing carbon intensity of Nigeria’s electricity consumption, Seplat says in its annual report. “We have high-graded a gas-to-power development project, which has the potential to reach Final Investment Decision (FID) in 2024, subject to Board approval”. The directorate is also reviewing two other potential acquisition opportunities in the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Renewable Power Generation markets.  This then, is the portfolio that Mba will be taking over.

Mba, who began his career as an accountant, and initially joined Seplat as its General Manager, Commercial, is credited to have delivered on the most important engineering project in the company’s portfolio. “The ANOH gas plant achieved mechanical completion on 29th December 2023”, the company reports, adding that there was “Zero Lost Time Incident (LTI) across 11 million hours. Current activity on the ANOH gas project involves moving all key work streams to completion ahead of first gas, planned for 3Q 2024”. He was promoted to the AGPC job from the position of General Manager Gas business, where he was responsible for delivering new Gas projects, domestic and regional Gas Sale Agreements (GSA), new Gas business development, GSA operations, revenue collection, customer relations and overall implementation of Board-approved Gas strategy. Prior to Seplat, Mba worked with Mobil Producing Nigeria and BG (British Gas) Nigeria, managing the Planning and Budget function.

Okon, meanwhile, started his career as a Petroleum Reservoir Engineer in 1992 with Shell, and has over 32 years extensive experience in upstream, integrated oil and gas operations across Africa, Europe, USA, Middle East, and Nigeria. In Seplat’s words Okon has been in “Safety, Strategy, Leadership, Petroleum Engineering, Exploration, Front End Development Studies, Project Execution, Operational Excellence, Production, Cost Leadership, Field Development, Full Life Cycle Management of Complex Oil and Gas Assets (Upstream and Midstream), Onshore and Offshore, diverse geographies and cultures. He has been Chief Reservoir Engineer, Deputy Vice President Technical, GM Offshore Assets, GM Deepwater Production and VP Cost Leadership and Continuous Improvement.

This story was originally published in the May 2024 edition of Africa Oil+Gas Report’s monthly, paid subscription issues.



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