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Knight, Bowe Join Africa Oil Corp’s Executive Management

By Bunmi Christiana Aduloju

Craig Knight and Amy Bowe have been appointed Africa Oil Corp’s Vice Presidents for Production and ESG respectively.

Mr. Knight, a Petroleum Engineer with over 16 years of experience in field appraisal, development, reservoir management, brownfield production optimization, and well interventions, will be based in Africa Oil’s London office.

For 2020, Africa Oil Corp. reported a working interest production of 28,700 Barrels of Oil Equivalent Per Day (BOEPD), entirely in Nigeria. The output is from what used to be Petrobras’ producing assets in the country, which the company purchased in January 2020. The company holds 25% of the Kenya’s South Lokichar basin oilfield development as well as exploratory tracts in Namibia and South Africa. 

Craig Knight

Ms. Bowe, who has almost 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, with a focus on ESG and climate risk and strategy specifically, will work from the company headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Prior to joining Africa Oil, Knight held roles in Asset Management, Subsurface Team Leadership, and Production, Reservoir, and Completion Engineering. Most recently, he was the Production Director at Spirit Energy where he was responsible for the Company’s production management, hydrocarbon accounting, and establishing the company’s carbon emissions reporting processes, Africa Oil Corp. says in a release. “He has worked on both onshore and offshore assets across Australia, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, and the UK”. 

Bowe joins Africa Oil from Wood Mackenzie, where she held various positions within the Upstream Consulting team and most recently served as Head of Carbon Research. In that capacity, she launched Wood Mackenzie’s suite of Emissions Benchmarking Tools, which provide transparency into emissions performance and risks associated with Oil & Gas and Metals & Mining operations down to the asset level. Prior to Wood Mackenzie, Ms. Bowe served as an Environmental Affairs Advisor at Hess Corp. and helped to develop the company’s inaugural climate change strategy as a member of the Corporate Strategy team.


Seplat: Roger Brown Overhauls the Leadership, Runs with Four Managing Directors

Roger Brown, Seplat Energy’s Chief Executive Officer, has overhauled the executive leadership of the company.

In the one year since he took over the reins of Africa’s largest homegrown E&P company, Brown has devolved his executive powers extensively, converting the General Managers of the regional assets, which form the company’s base business, into Managing Directors, creating an Energy Unit for new business and bolstering the Public Affairs department as a directorate.

In the event, Ayodele Olatunde is promoted from General Manager East, to Managing Director Seplat East Onshore Limited, fully overseeing the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 53 (which hosts the Ohaji South field, the company’s portion of the straddling Assa North /Ohaji South ((ANOH) field, as well as Seplat’s interest in OML 55, which is operated by Belemaoil.

Afolabi Folorunso, who was General Manager West, is now Managing Director Seplat West Ltd, with a portfolio that includes OMLs 4, 38 and 41, the acreages upon which the company was created in 2010. Seplat West also includes Seplat’s 40% interest in Pillar Oil operated Umuseti field, in Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 283.

Chima Njoku and Okechukwu Mba have been Managing Directors of subsidiary companies before the new organizational structure. Njoku had been MD/CEO, since March 2020, of Elcrest Exploration & Production, a company which Seplat acquired about two years ago. Elcrest holds 45% in OML 40 and is the technical and financing partner of the Ubima marginal field in OML 17. Last February, Mba took over as managing director of the ANOH Gas Processing Company (AGPC) from Yetunde Taiwo, who was moved over to set up a new business unit.

Company spokesperson Chioma Nwachuku transforms from General Manager, Public Affairs, to Director of External Affairs and Sustainability, which in effect means that she is running a directorate.

Yetunde Taiwo, who was appointed General Manager New Energy last February, is now Director of New Energy.

Eleanor Adaralegbe, who was General Manager Finance, is now Vice President Finance.

An entirely new hire is Alasdair Mackenzie, as Director, Strategy & Business Development.

All of these officers, though, are on the second level of the organogram, below a four man committee which includes Roger Brown himself as CEO, Emeka Onwuka as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Effiong Okon, Operations Director and Gary Thomson, Technical Director. Brown, Onwuka and Okon  are all on the company’s board, as executive directors.

Mackenzie joined Seplat Energy from Tullow Oil, where he was Group Head of Commercial, Planning and Tax. But it was his tenure as Tullow’s Commercial & M&A Manager which Mr. Brown found most fitting to his strategy. Mackenzie, who operates out of London, is in charge of the new ventues that Seplat is exploring the most ambitious of which is discussion to buy into four acreages being divested by an oil major

Seplat West’s Managing Director and Seplat East’s Managing Director, as well as Director Energy, are pivotal to the company’s new way of being. They are all running strategic business units, which are set up for transparent profit or loss accountabilities..

All of these leaders have had positions of increasing responsibility over the last 10 years.

Olatunde had been Seplat’s GM, Eastern Assets Operations since 2014, when he joined the company from Conoil Producing, where he was GM, Exploration & Production, a position he took after he was promoted from Group Head, Geosciences. Folorunso was promoted from Principal Production Technologist in May 2014 and he has moved up rapidly, becoming Production Operations Manager in May 2016, and GM Corporate Prod. Operations a month after, after which he was made GM Western Asset-1 in January 2020, taking over from Njoku, who become the first Seplat appointed CEO of Elcrest after the acquisition.

But it is through Ms. Taiwo’s portfolio that Seplat Energy wants to test the future. The New Energy unit involves the increase of gas products to be monetised in the form of LPG, CNG and other gas derivatives, with opportunity framing in the renewable energy space, all utilisable  in the local market.  Taiwo worked for BG as Economics manager after 15 years as reservoir engineer, then planning advisor at Chevron, before she showed up at Seplat in May 2011 as head of planning and economics. She joined NNPC, the state hydrocarbon company, in 2013, as General Manager, Planning at NAPIMS, the Investment arm. She was appointed head of Gas Business when she returned to Seplat in 2015 and then promoted MD, AGPC.

 


Rabilloud is TOTAL’s New Man in Mozambique

TOTALEnergies has picked a new manager to lead its construction efforts in Mozambique after a string of victories by government and allied forces have dislodged Islamic insurgents from the vicinity of the gas project.

Maxime Rabilloud, General Counsel TOTALEnergies E&P, at the company’s headquarters in Paris, is the new Country Chair in Mozambique. 

The French major is keen on developing the planned 13MillionMetric Tonne Per Year LNG project on the Afungi Peninsula, in the East African country’s northeasternmost province of Cabo Delgado, despite the history of resurgent violent attacks by Islamic jihadists.

TOTALEnergies has been encouraged by the success of the combined Mozambican and Rwandan troops against the insurgents that it is considering an earlier scheduled to return to construction site than the mid-2022 date that is widely publicized by service companies like Saipem.

Maxime Rabilloud has 22 years of experience working for TOTALEnergies, the last 12 of which he spent in Lusophone countries, starting in Angola as general counsel and then managing the company’s business in Brazil at various levels of responsibility, including leading the subsidiary from 2015 to 2018. Since then, he has been general counsel for TOTALEnergies E&P in Paris.

TOTALEnergies declared the force majeure on the LNG Mozambique project on April 26, 2021, citing security reasons. The operator and its contractors evacuated the site.

Since then, however, the Mozambican government has boosted security by engaging the Rwandan army as well as the entire Southern Africa Development Commission, initiatives which have led to the deployment of military troops from South Africa, Botswana, Angola, and Malawi.

Mozambican and Rwandan troops have, in particular, combined to take back large swaths of territory from the rebels, the biggest victory being the retaking of Mocimboa da Praia district, whose port is key to transporting supplies to other parts of Cabo Delgado province, including the liquified natural gas project.


Meg O’Neill Takes Hold of Woodside Energy and well… the ‘Big Australian’

The appointment of Meg O’Neill as Woodside’s new chief executive means she will be superintending the creation of a “Big Australian” company from the proposed merger of Woodside with BHP’s petroleum division.

She will also see to the company’s achievement of first oil in Senegal, scheduled for 2023.

The merged company will be in the top 10 of independent global oil and gas producers, in the opinion of Keith Pitt, Australia’s Resources Minister.

“Having dealt with Ms. O’Neil over the past few months since her appointment as interim CEO of Woodside, I am confident she is the right person to lead the new Woodside through the challenges of a merger of this size and complexity,” Mr. Pitt says, in a congratulatory statement.

O’Neill was appointed on August 17, 2021, succeeding Peter Coleman, who retired from Woodside, Australia’s largest E&P company, in June 2021.

She joined Woodside in May 2018 as chief operations officer. In October 2019, she became executive vice president development, and in August 2020, assumed responsibility for marketing.

Prior to joining Woodside, O’Neill held senior technical and business positions at ExxonMobil including assignments in Indonesia, Norway, Canada, and the US, and regional roles responsible for Asia/Pacific and Africa.

She holds dual Bachelor’s degrees in Ocean Engineering and Chemical Engineering and a Master Degree in Ocean Systems Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Ouattara Shakes Up Petroci Management

The board of directors of Petroci, Cote d’Ivoire’s state hydrocarbon company, has appointed Vamissa Bamba as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effectively removing Ibrahima Diaby, who had been in office since July 2015.

The board, acting on the instruction of President Alassane Ouattara, also picked Sié Georges Kam as deputy general manager in charge of Petroci’s production (a sort of COO) and appointed Tiotioho Soro as new director-general of the Société Ivoirienne de Raffinage (SIR), the Ivorien Refining Company which is run separately from the upstream minded Petroci.

The job of deputy general manager, production at Petroci had been open since the death of Marcelle Gauly in early 2021. The appointment of the new CEO will be confirmed at the next Council of Ministers, scheduled before the government recess from the week of August 16, 2021.

Vamissa Bamba was Managing Director of CI-11, a subsidiary in charge of the country’s most productive offshore block, which hosts the Lion and Panthère fields. He was also the company’s director of drilling.

At SIR, Soro replaces Thomas Camara, who was elevated to the position of Minister of Petroleum last March, after nine years on the job.

Petroci earned 418Million Euros as revenues in 2019.


Plain Luck or Sheer Grit? Tony Attah Leaves NLNG After Construction Starts on Train 7

Tony Attah leaves the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd at the end of August 2021, close to two years after having delivered on the most crucial item on his to-do list; leading the company to a Final Investment Decision (FID) on the seventh LNG Plant (Train).

He is handing over the reins of the Chief Executive Officer job to Phillip Mshelbila, the former GM Gas at Shell Nigeria, who is currently rounding up a cross posting and experience broadening term as Managing Director of the Atlantic LNG Company of Trinidad and Tobago.

The NLNG Train 7, as the project is called, will produce 8Million Metric Tonnes Per Annum Per Year for the global market. It will increase Nigeria’s total LNG capacity to 30Million Metric Tonnes Per Year (30MMTPA). Groundbreaking ceremony for the construction was celebrated on June 15, 2021, and completion is expected by late 2024 or early 2025.

Attah, a mechanical engineer by training, who was previously Managing Director of Shell Nigeria Exploration Producing Company SNEPCo, is the only CEO from an IOC background, working in Nigeria, who has delivered a project of that magnitude in the country last five years. The cost of Train 7 is around $10Billion. Attah is, first and last, a Shell employee, who was seconded to the AngloDutch major’s third largest Liquefication Plant in the world. (Shell’s 26.5% equity in NLNG Ltd, translated to an entitlement of 5.3MMTPA from the company in 2020, which in turn meant 15% of Shell’s total 35.6MMTPA for the year).

To get at 8MMTPA, the NLNG Ltd will liquefy around 1.1Billion standard cubic feet of gas every day. That is one-seventh of Nigeria’s entire natural gas output. The NLNG’s extant 22MMTPA capacity valourises 3Billion standard cubic feet of gas per day, or 42% of the country’s total gas production.

Tony Attah took the reins of NLNG Ltd, nine years after the last Liquefaction Plant (Train 6) came on stream. Before him, two Chef Executives had worked to get Train 7 project off the ground, with some traction, but not visible success.

There were issues to do with the several options before the NNPC, the government’s 49% investor in the project. As of 2008, the cash strapped state hydrocarbon company was considering investments in two other LNG projects: the 5MMTPA Brass LNG and the 10MMTPA Olokola NLNG. By 2012, the government was zeroing in on Brass LNG, while NLNG’s Train 7 had quietly rolled off the burner. In 2015, a new government, formed by a new political party, came to power and looked far more favourably at Train 7.

“I have just received the key, that key will unlock Train-7. Train-7 will be real,” Attah said at the formal hand-over ceremony between him and his predecessor, Babs Omotowa, in September 2016. It was a loud affirmation, expressed, not in the closed, if cozy, confines of the boardroom, but in the public space.

Still the project had to be financed, even if the government was keen. “NNPC is on the average about 57% of the JV upstream”, Attah told Africa Oil+Gas Report’s Kish Onwunali in the NLNG Ltd’s office in Abuja, in September 2018. And as all the major gas supply partners (Shell, TOTALEnergies, and ENI) were junior partners to NNPC upstream, “the funding challenges were really around the equity funding of the NNPC element because the IOCs are responding”, he said. “In order not to allow anything stop us, we have come up with a framework to work with the government to look at possibilities that would include perhaps, a forward sale payment and go into agreement with government to just be sure that the supply is properly financed. And I think we are not far off. We recently signed an MOU with NNPC on funding but overall, the project itself will have to be financed and the NLNG Ltd side of it is never the issue because that will rise on our balance sheet”.

Fast forward, a full year and four months after that conversation: FEED is done, finance is ready, Local content compliance ticked off; more suppliers signed on than the current four (Shell, TOTALEnerigies, ENI, Niger Delta E&P), now including Sunlink and Oando; more LPG production committed to the local market; some LNG volume committed to domestic off-takers and yes, FID is taken.

A year and six months after FID, Attah superintends the kickstart of construction of the largest midstream hydrocarbon project in West Africa and a month later, the board of NLNG announces his exit. It’s the stuff of a dream.


Mustafa Indimi Is New CEO of Oriental Energy

Mustafa Indimi has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Oriental Energy Resources, the Nigerian independent and operator of the Ebok field in the country’s shallow water south east offshore.

A son of the company’s founder and owner Mohammed Indimi, he has worked on the company’s core assets for the past ten years.

He takes over from Ignatius Ifelayo, the personable, but self-effacing petroleum engineer and former General Manager with Chevron and Texaco. That Mr. Ifelayo, for over five years, ran the Indimis’ family E&P company, in which five of the seven-person board of directors are all  Indimis, is itself a measure of management skill.

Mustafa Indimi, who holds a master’s degree in petroleum production engineering from Robert Gordon University, was a planning engineer with Afren, the London listed firm which funded the development of the Ebok field and operated it from farm in agreement in 2008 through first oil in 2011, until Afren’s bankruptcy in 2015, when Oriental became the full operator, by default.

Ebok currently produces between 13,000-14,000Barrels of oil per day, a steep drop from around 22,000BOPD five years ago, which was itself a plunge from 40,000BOPD output recorded I January 2012. Part of the new CEO’s remit is to secure investment to boost the output as well as finalise development of Okwok field, the company’s other asset.

Indimi began work as planning engineer in the year of Ebok’s first oil His undergraduate studies focused on Economic Evaluation & Investment Decision methods at the Colorado School of Mines.

He was promoted project manager two years later in 2013, with oversight of Ebok field.

The new CEO was appointed Executive Director Oriental Energy Resources when the company took over operatorship of the asset, by default in 2015 and has held the position since.


Ruth Nankabirwa is Uganda’s New Petroleum Minister, Will Oversee FID for Lake Albert

By Akpelu Paul Kelechi

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has appointed Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu, former Chief Whip in the government, as the new Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, a powerful position which includes oversight of power supply and exploration and production of petroleum resources.

With a new cabinet in place after a bitterly fought election, the Ugandan government can proceed to consider the one major item on the table: the Final Investment Decision for the Lake Albert development project, the Ugandan basin wide crude oil development, which has been on course for 15 years.

Nankabirwa, 55, is a career politician who has been in government since 1998. She replaces Irene Muloni, the Ugandan engineer who had headed the Energy and Mineral Development Ministry for 10 years since 2011, and saw much of the challenging twists and turns of the Lake Albert development, all through to April 2021, when the partners TOTALEnergies, CNOOC, and the Tanzanian and Ugandan governments, concluded the final agreements required to launch this major project.

The discovery of oil, via the drilling of Mputa 1 onshore Uganda, was made in 2006, a year before the well that led to Ghana’s first oil in 2010 was drilled. But the tyranny of geology (landlocked, waxy crude, over a thousand kilometres from the coast), and one of the industry’s most arduous regulatory processes (the Ugandan bureaucracy), stalled the development.

Uganda’s new energy minister served as Chief Government Whip, a Cabinet-level position in the country’s executive apparatus from March 2015 to May 2021, when the cabinet was dissolved. Before then, she was State Minister for Fisheries from May 2011 to March 2015 and was State Minister for Microfinance from February 2009 to May 2011.

A graduate of Fine Art (Bachelor’s degree) and Conflict Studies (Master’s), from Makerere University, Nankabirwa started her political work in 1994, when she served as a delegate to the Constituent Assembly.

In 1996, Ruth Nankabirwa was elected to serve as the member of parliament for Woman Delegate for Kiboga District. From 1998 through 2001, she served as Minister of State for the Lowero Triangle in the Office of the Prime Minister. Between 2001 and 2009, she served as State Minister for Defence. The Energy Minister’s j position, then, is her first as a senior Minister.


Tim Woodall Walks Out on FAR

FAR has announced Timothy Woodall’s resignation from its Board, one day to his proposed re-election as a director.

The exit, announced by the company June 21, 2021, was “effective immediately”. 

Mr. Woodall has been a Director since August 2017 and an Executive Director since September 2019.

He was FAR’s commercial director, overseeing the company’s upstream asset sales and purchases and overall deal making. 

Prior to taking executive role at FAR, Woodall, an Australian national, was managing director of Miro Advisors for six years, chief executive of oil and gas technical consulting firm RISC and chief financial officer of New Orleans based intermediate E&P company, Energy Partners.

His resume says he has worked as an executive director in the energy division at UBS’ London offices and spent three years in the Credit Suisse oil and gas team in New York. He was also head of corporate development at Woodside Energy, Australia’s largest E&P firm.

FAR said of Woodall’s decision to quit: “As a result of Mr.Woodall’s resignation, the resolution to re-elect Mr. Woodall as a director (Resolution 2) to be voted on by shareholders at the Company’s Annual General Meeting has been withdrawn. The Annual General Meeting will be held tomorrow, 22 June 2021. FAR advised on 7 May 2021 and in the Notice of Meeting dated 21 May 2021 that Mr. Woodall’s executive role would cease on 2 July 2021”.


Lekan ‘Remains CEO of Lekoil Nigeria’, Fights Termination by Lekoil Cayman

Lekoil Nigeria, has reacted to the termination of Lekan Akinyanmi’s contract as Chief Executive of Lekoil Limited, the AIM listed company which is actually Lekoil Cayman.

It says that the decision, announced June 3, 2021, is the culmination of the efforts of the consortium led by Metallon Corporation to take control of Lekoil Cayman as foreshadowed in the circular to shareholders of Lekoil Cayman dated 11 December 2020. 

Lekoil Cayman had said that the sack of Lekan Akinyanmi, with immediate effect, was due to a corporate governance breach. “The Company will commence a search for a new CEO and, in the interim period, Anthony Hawkins will act as interim Executive Chairman of the Company”.

But Lekoil Nigeria Limited declares, in a counter release: ”Mr. (Lekan)Akinyanmi remains on the Board of Lekoil Nigeria Limited and also its Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Akinyanmi created and executed the vision of an independent indigenous Nigerian energy company that is Lekoil, for this generation and in this emerging market and he has always worked with the best interest of Lekoil shareholders in mind”. It then says that “Lekoil Nigeria remains committed to the vision of developing Nigeria’s energy sector’.

Does it look complicated?

Lekoil Cayman is the investment vehicle which raises money on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange, for the property acquired by Lekoil Nigeria. Lekoil Nigeria owns the assets, the more substantial of which are, 40% of the Otakikpo Field onshore (producing roughly 5,500 Barrels of Oi Per Day gross) and 17% equity in the undeveloped Ogo field, in shallow to deep water Benin Basin offshore Lagos. The estimated reserves, unproven is stated as in excess of 500 Million Barrels of Oil Equivalent.  Lekoil Cayman has 10% of Lekoil Nigeria in equity, but may have up to 90% of the economic interest. This part is not clear.

Back to the issue at hand.

Lekoil Cayman’s notice of termination had added that Anthony Hawkins became interim non-executive chair only in April 2021, after Michael Ajukwu resigned, after having been in the chair since January 2021. 

But Lekoil Nigeria’s response argues that “recent additions to the board of Lekoil Cayman by Metallon Corporation and its collaborators should have been vetted (as is the practice of LekoilCayman) and due diligenced as required by the AIM Rules and as would be normal for listed companies”.

It notes that “seasoned oil sector executives such as George Maxwell, and former directors with deep knowledge of the continent, such as Mark Simmonds, have resigned and been replaced with directors lacking industry expertise, knowledge of the continent, impartiality and objectivity and appointed to secure for Metallon Corporation and its collaborators, the full takeover of Lekoil Cayman”. 

Lekoil Nigeria contends that “the procedure leading to the termination of Mr. Akinyanmi’s service is not compliant with the company’s corporate governance policies. Together with the appointment of unvetted new appointments to the board of Lekoil Cayman by the Metallon Corporation consortium, it is clear that the majority of the board of Lekoil Cayman is failing persistently to comply with its corporate governance code, yet the board of Lekoil Cayman determines on this ground to terminate the service of Mr Akinyanmi”. 

Conclusion, for now, by Lekoil Nigeria: “While we take legal counsel regarding this decision by Lekoil Cayman, we wish to assure our numerous stakeholders, especially the Nigerian people that the strategic national assets under our purview will be protected by all legitimate means available to us”

Conclusion, for now,  by Lekoil Cayman: “Lekoil is the lender under a loan agreement with Mr. Akinyanmi, of which outstanding balance, as of May 31 2021, was approximately $1.5Million. The company will commence proceedings to recover the Loan”.

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