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Attar, Algeria’s New Energy Minister, Is back to Familiar Haunts

The Algerian geologist, Abdelmadjid Attar, former CEO of Sonatrach, is his country’s new Minister of Energy.

He takes over from Mohamed Arkab, who has been posted to the less flambouyant Ministry of Mining.

The appointments were part of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s partial reshuffle within the government.

Attar was Chief Executive of Sonatrach, Africa’s largest state hydrocarbon company, between 1997 and 1999.

He reached the position after moving up the ranks, taking jobs with increasing responsibilities, including that of director of the exploration division.

Aged 74, Attar obtained the diploma of geological engineering in exploration and attended several trainings in economics and management. He is also the author of several specialized publications.

Mr. Attar is a widely sought-after hydrocarbons consultant in North Africa. He has expressed a keen interest in drawing International Oil Companies back to invest massively in the country.


Eland’s Bosses Didn’t Make it to Seplat

Bayo Ayorinde, Chief Executive of Eland Oil and Gas at the time of the merger with Seplat, chose not to move into the new arrangement.

So did Pieter Van Der Groen, who was Eland’s Director of Business Development and former Chief Operating Officer.

Seplat purchased Aberdeen based company Eland Oil & Gas for $480Million, in a move which led to the delisting of the latter from the AIM segment of the London Stock Exchange.

In the new arrangement, Eland’s 30,000Barrels of Oil Per Day operations will remain outside Seplat; the company will be run as a subsidiary of Seplat.

Ayorinde joined Eland as Managing Director of Nigerian operations in 2015, after serving in Operations and Maintenance (O&M) services for Oriental Energy.

He has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Ife and completed a General Management Programme at Harvard University. He started his career with Ashland and rose to the level of onshore Production Manager before leaving for Texaco Overseas where he served as Head of HR in Warri, the hub city in the Western Niger Delta. Afterwards, he worked for Moni Pulo and Allied Energy as Executive Director and COO before joining Afren in 2009. He was the Managing Director at Afren from 2011 before going to Oriental Energy.

Ayorinde currently freelances as a consultant for Seplat, as he prepares his next move.

Van Der Groen did not return calls.

Van Der Groen trained at the Universities of Auckland and Aberdeen, started his career with Schlumberger as a geologist in London, moving on to become a wireline engineer in South East Asia and West Africa. After his field work, he trained as a log analyst with Schlumberger in London for multiple clients. worked at Schlumberger Oilfield UK PLC. He moved to Amerada Hess initially as a Petrophysicist in the international team, then to technical and management roles. He then worked briefly with Gulfsands Petroleum in Syria as Deputy General Manager. In Nigeria he spent four years as General Manager of an independent oil company where he oversaw onshore development and production in the Niger Delta.




Mojapelo Takes Hold of BP’s Largest African Downstream Operations

BP has appointed Taelo Mojapelo as Chief Executive Officer of its Southern African business unit (BPSA).
The supply chain expert succeeds Priscillah Mabelane, the accountant who, reputably, is the first woman in the history of South Africa’s oil industry to head up a multinational company.

Mojapelo’s last job was Director as Customer Service & Logistics at Mondelez, a position she took up in June 2017.

She had worked at DHL, South African Breweries, SAPICS and Kellogg’s.

The choice of a supply chain specialist as CEO is indicative of BP Southern Africa’s customer-centric focus.

BP SA has over 500 service stations in South Africa alone, comprising of over 200 branded convenience stores.

BPSA owns, with Shell, the largest crude oil refinery in South Africa (the 180,000BOPD SAPREF), which is located in Durban, the seaside holiday town on the edge of the Indian Ocean. It also manufactures lubricants at an oil blending plant located in the city of Durban. The company operates nine depots and three coastal installations, as well as the largest rail gantry in Africa located in Pretoria with planned upgrades to key depots.


America’s Move Against Adesina’s Re-election, Fits A Pattern

By the Editorial Board of Africa Oil+Gas Report

With its negative reaction to the conclusions in the report of the ethics committee of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United States has made a clear symbolic move against the re-election of Akinwumi Adesina as the Bank’s Chief Executive.

Adesina is running for a re-election in which he is his own opponent. Many believe he has done a good job, especially in the energy sector, but being a lone candidate isn’t a surefire guarantee he will return.

The poll was moved by the administrators from May to August 2020.

Elections to the Presidency of the continent’s top development bank is often fraught.

It is instructive that it is in this election year that a group of “worried employees” came up with a list of grievances to the Office of Integrity and the Fight against Corruption (PIAC) as well as the Chairmen of the Ethics Committee and Audit Finance Committee, alleging that Mr. Adesina has violated the code of ethics, citing a number of questionable contracts and dubious appointments on Adesina’s watch.  The Ethics Committee investigated the allegations and declared that “the President is totally exonerated of all allegations”.

That clean bill should ordinarily provide the wind behind his sail.

But in a letter sent on May 22 to Kaba Nialé, the Ivorian Minister of Planning and Development and the president of the board of governors of the AfDB, Steven Mnuchin, the American secretary of the Treasury, says that the United States “urges the initiation of a full investigation into these allegations by using the services of an independent external investigator”.

To continue on the job, Adesina must win a double majority of African and non-African shareholders in a maximum of five rounds.

As of February 2020, Adesina had obtained the unanimous support of the Executive Council of the African Union, composed of 55 foreign ministers.

On the strength of his personal charisma, he was coasting to victory.

But there has to be other ways to stop him, the Trump administration, in its tendency for bringing down talented Africans at the helm of supranational institutions, thinks.

The whistleblowers who reported him to the ethics committee, had been suspected, all along, to have been instigated by the United States. As they were laying down the accusations, they were charging the ethics committee of an inability to be neutral.

And you could read, from Mr. Mnuchin’s letter, that these allegations are the US’ ammunition to stop Adesina from getting a re-election.

“Given the scope, gravity and detail of the allegations against the sole candidate for leadership of the bank for the next five years, we believe that further investigation is necessary to ensure that it has broad support, trust and a clear shareholder mandate,” Mnuchin writes.

BP’s Top Man in North Africa Retires

Hesham Mekawi has decided to retire. The Egyptian engineer, who is BP’s Regional President for North Africa, is leaving after a career with the European oil giant spanning over 30 years.

Mekawi will leave at the end of 2020 to pursue non-executive director opportunities. He will continue in his current role until 1 July 2020 and will then spend 6 months as a senior advisor to ensure the smooth transition of leadership.

Hesham joined BP in 1990 and, in the early stages of his career, held a variety of commercial, economic analysis and business development roles in Cairo, Houston, Chicago and London. He led the consolidation of BP Egypt, BP Algeria and BP Libya to create the expanded BP North Africa Region in 2014. Hesham transformed the North Africa business by identifying and progressing complex growth opportunities and actively managing the portfolio.

Over the past 5 years, BP has invested $14Billion in Egypt delivering at its peak 60% of Egypt’s annual gas production together with its partners. Hesham has been recognized many times over the years, both internally and externally. Of particular note is that he and his team were awarded BP’s Helios award for “BP at its best”, in 2011.

Bernard Looney, BP CEO, commented that “Over the years BP has counted on Hesham’s vision and leadership to maintain and grow our business in North Africa. Hesham has always shown outstanding performance and progressive leadership supported by longstanding relationships with key stakeholders and business partners. His deep commitment to the development of people has served as an example to us all. Hesham has been instrumental in delivering on our plans over many years – regardless of the circumstances. We will miss him.”


NNPC Applies the Brakes on Managers’ Retirement

Holds up onboarding of 500 new hires.

NNPC has held up the planned retirement of some of its Managers, a result of the combined collapse of crude oil prices and the surge in cases of the Coronavirus.

The Nigerian state hydrocarbon company’s retirement of 33 General Managers (GMs) and Group General Managers (GGMs) three weeks ago, was not followed by similar treatment to Managers, a fortnight ago, as scheduled.

All the 33 GMs and GGMs who were due for retirement within a year were asked to leave on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Managers in the same situation (one year left to retirement) were to receive their own letters in the week of March 16, 2020, but that did not happen.

“The Human Resources Department realised that they had to keep us all safe, first and foremost”, one source said, referring to the surge in cases of the Coronavirus in Nigeria, which has gone past 90 cases (formal government figures).

Some 500 new hires, including graduate trainees and experienced hires were supposed to start work, but that process is also on hold.

The retirement project is part of a restructuring effort, which the Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, christened Repositioning For Performance Excellence.

It had involved the movement of some Chief Operating Officers and an extensive promotion exercise as well as shuffling around of people in leadership positions. Some of the key appointment is in the “repositioning” exercise include that of Kennie Obateru as Group General Manager(GGM) Public Affairs, to replace Samson Makoji, who had served in acting capacity since the exit of Ndu Ughamadu, the Maikanti Baru-era GGM Public Affairs; Mohammed Ismail Usman as General Manager in charge of Asset Management at the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company NPDC; Martina Uzoamaka Atuchi as the new GM of Joint Venture at the National Petroleum Investment Management Service (NAPIMS); Marcel Amu Ogbonna AS GM Planning at NAPIMS; Muhammad Barwa Ahmad as GM in charge of Pipelines at the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) and Isokariari Soibiton  Ngoji Kjo ,the new GM Processing, at NGC.


Agbaire, Shell Africa’s Top Geoscientist, Takes Early Retirement

Dan Agbaire, General Manager Exploration for both SNEPCO and SPDC, the two upstream subsidiaries of Shell in Nigeria, is leaving the group at the end of March. The 56-year-old has been on the job for about four years. It was not clear, at the time of going to Press, who Mr. Agbaire’s replacement will be. SPDC (Shell Petroleum Development Company) is the operator of the joint venture with NNPC, TOTAL and ENI, with assets mostly onshore. SNEPCO  (Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company) is the operator of the Anglo Dutch firm’s Production Sharing Contracts, in deepwater (Niger Delta) and inland basins (outside Niger Delta). Mr. Agbaire superintended the foraging for new hydrocarbons in the acreages under these two types of contracts. He reported directly to The Hague and London.

Until his appointment in late 2016, Agbaire was the Regional Discipline Lead, Production Geology/Production Seismology, Shell Upstream International, Sub Sahara Africa.

He holds a 1986 Master of Science Degree in Geology/Earth Science from the University of Benin, located in the Western flank of the country’s oil rich Niger Delta region. In 1987, he joined Geotrex, which then was a bespoke, boutique petroleum geoscience consulting company in Nigeria. He left Geotrex four years after and has worked for Shell, in positions of increasing responsibility, for 29 years. Agbaire did not respond to calls to determine why he is leaving early.

Ghana’s Oil Chief Is Head of New Producers’ Group

Kofi Koduah Sarpong, Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), has been appointed inaugural chairman of the Advisory Board of the New Producers Group (NPG).

The NPG is made of 35 countries from Africa, Caribbean and South America, Middle East, Eurasia, Europe and Asia Pacific and is a network of emerging petroleum producers, which provides contexts, appropriate advice, capacity building and forums for exchange of ideas.

The Advisory Board’s activities are coordinated byChatham House, the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Its role is to advise the NPG’s Secretariat on matters that directly concern the Group’s initiatives and further its mission, reach and impact.

Members of the board include Honey Malinga, who is acting Director of the Directorate of Petroleum, Uganda, Walid Nasr, Board Chairman of the Lebanese Petroleum Administration, Lebanon, Naadira Ogeer – Commercial Advisor – Commonwealth Secretariat, Patrick Heller – Advisor at NRGI and Valerie Marcel – Project Lead and Co-founder of NPG.

At the maiden meeting of the Advisory Board hosted by Uganda,  Sarpong, The inaugural chair, expressed his commitment to work to secure the growth and long-term viability of the Group.

Board members agreed that new procedures and resources were needed to match the Group’s ambitions, while continued efforts towards building trust and insulating the NPG from commercial interests or politics remained essential. They also wished to see the Group clarify its mission, governance structure and procedures to support its growth and sustainability.

A position paperoutlining a vision for the NPG’s evolution is expected to be submitted for the next board meeting in February 2020.





Sarki, New DPR Director, Was Not on the Radar

By Fred Akanni, Editor in Chief

The appointment of Sarki Auwalu as the substantive Director of the Department Petroleum Resources (DPR) by President Muhammadu Buhari was far away from any calculation of most people close to the Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum.

It certainly had nothing to do with the recommendation of Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum, who supposedly runs the Ministry on a day to day basis, but is hardly consulted by President Buhari, the dejure minister, on petroleum affairs.

An Assistant Director at the regulatory body at the time of his appointment, Auwalu, with an engineering career spanning 21 years, is the lowest ranked officer to take the reins of the DPR in 30 years. But the regulatory agency officially dismisses this characterization. “His appointment was made by the President of Nigeria”, says a terse statement from the DPR’s Public Affairs Division, in response to our query, “and further, Assistant Director and Deputy Director positions in DPR are strictly by appointment”.

Previous DPR Directors of the last 30 years have included Ben Osuno, the first Nigerian geoscientist to be hired by Shell (1960), which was at the time the only producing company in the country. He left the DPR in 1989, succeeded by Jibril Oyekan, who was seconded from the Ministry. Oyekan was succeeded by Dublin Green, who was succeeded by Peter Achebe. Mac Ofurhie, Tony Chukwueke, Aliyu Sabonbimi, Billy Agha, Andrew Obaje, Osten Olorunshola, George Osahon, and Mordecai Ladan have been directors of the agency since.

It’s true that Auwalu’s predecessor, Ahmad Shakur, who stepped in as acting director last June, following the expiration of the tenure of Mordecai Ladan, was still knocking doors to have his acting appointment substantiated, when the news of his ouster came. But whereas Shakur’s critics were citing his credentials as disadvantaged because of his non-technical background, they weren’t exactly considering an assistant director shooting to the head of a management group consisting of eight Deputy Directors. Checks by Africa Oil+Gas Report indicate that all the Deputy Directors have taken Mr. Auwalu’s double promotion in good faith and are willing to work with him, but why did Abuja insist on picking an officer from below the ranks of Executive Management?

Here are some of  the feelers we got: (1)The appointment was recommended out of the ‘villa’ (as the office and Residence of the Nigerian President is called) by those who make the strategic appointments, (2) Sanni Hassan, Deputy Director and head of DPR’s influential Basin and Lease Administration, was considered for the job, but he happens to come from the same state and local government as Mele Kolo Kyari, Group Managing Director of the NNPC (3)President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet needed someone at the helm of the regulatory body, who would feel grateful to them,hence the decision to pick an Assistant Director.

As a rule, DPR directors are appointed from inside. But those who have come from outside, in the last 15 years, had been hired from positions at the summit of the industry. Ofurhie had been both Managing Director of Nigerian Gas Company and Managing Director of NPDC, both influential subsidiaries of the NNPC. Tony Chukwueke was Shell’s Corporate Geophysicist, an unusual title created for him and he took the DPR’s Directorship from the position of Technical Advisor to the Minister of State for Petroleum; Osten Olorunshola was Shell Africa’s Vice President Gas &Power and had briefly been Special Adviser to the Minister of State for Petroleum. George Osahon was Managing Director of NPDC and latterly Group General Manager NAPIMS, at the time the most influential position below that of Group Managing Director of NNPC.

Mr. Auwalu, who is stepping into these big shoes, is likely to superintend the country’s first licensing round in 12 years. For this he has the

opportunity to be as transparent as he possibly can. It is the one currency he badly needs to deliver on this important job and to shame those who are convinced he was handed the job in order to dispense patronage. A key challenge of regulatory agencies in Nigeria is the difficulty of civil servants to escape regulatory capture.And the DPR is not immune.

Alex Tarka Takes the Reins

By Joe Precocio

The Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Africa’s largest body of technical petroleum professionals, has elected Alex Nachi Tarka as its President for the next one year.

The 11,000+ strong group handed over the reins to the state employed Geoscientist at a lush ceremony rounding up its 37th Annual Conference in Lagos.

Tarka, Manager of the divested Shell JV assets at the Nigerian Petroleum Developmemt Company (NPDC), was decorated with the insignia of office by the outgoing President, Ajibola Oyebanji, on a glitzy night of awards that featured the induction of seven ranking members, including Mele Kolo Kyari, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, as distinguished fellows of the association.

The NAPE Presidency is, on the face of it, the most powerful advocacy role in the Nigerian segment of the global oil patch.

On his inauguration, Tarka had very few words: “I am confident that the industry and academia shall feel the positive impact of today’s event”.

NAPE was created in 1975 as the Lagos Society of Geologists and Geophysicists, a professional society to further both social and technical interaction among colleagues. The name later changed to the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), to accommodate colleagues in other parts of the country. By the mid -1980s, the association had broadened its scope from focus on its members, to advocating for value addition to the Nigerian oil industry. NAPE led the campaign for the country’s venture into deepwater terrain; called for more frequent licencing rounds, pushed the idea of encouraging the indigenous enterprise and championed the concessioning of Marginal Fields. These issues may appear “hot button” now, but they were very niche ideas 30 years ago, when the association started pushing for them.

Nachi Tarka has been part of the technical elite of the oil and gas industry since he served the Nigerian mandatory post graduate Youth Service as Trainee Well-site Geologist (NYSC) at TOTAL Exploration and Production Nigeria (then Elf Nigeria) in 1990.

In the 29 years since, he has risen through the ranks in the state hydrocarbon company, as Field Operations Production Geologist in NNPC’s Exploration Department, JV (1999), as Technical Assistant to General Manager, JV. Oil Operations Division (2002), as Deputy Manager, Exploration & Evaluation in Exploration Department, JV. Oil Operations Division (2013).

But his main claim to fame, as a technically honed earth scientist, is the job he did as Deputy Manager in the Frontier Exploration Services Division (October 2017-October 2018).

With the discovery of oil, gas and condensates in Kolmani River-2, a result that Mr. Kyari himself described as “significant”, Tarka should feel proud to have been the one who was asked to give the presentation “Nigerian Frontier Basins-The Journey So Far” at the NAPE Monthly Technical/Business Meeting in Lagos in April 2016. Three years before the well was spud, that paper laid out bare, the comprehensive technical work that NNPC had done to appraise the 1999 discovery made by Shell.

But Tarka, a humble civil servant, would not even comment on his role, let alone take credit.

In NAPE, he has held several positions in the executive council, including the Treasurer from 2014- 2016, Financial Secretary from 2016- 2018 and President-Elect, from 2018. He was made a Fellow of NAPE in 2018.

In the 12 short months he has as President, Mr. Tarka has enormous responsibility. In an increasingly uncertain oil and gas industry, in which the Nigerian government appears desperate to make the environment as unfriendly as it can, the onus is on professional bodies to amplify the advocacy and heighten their engagement with the authorities. The Buhari government is determined to listen only to its own voice and oil companies are struggling with the tools for a reasonable conversation. The poor conversational skills of the Oil Producers’ body, the OPTS, were starkly on display at the legislative hearings for the passage of the Deep Offshore And Inland Basin Production Sharing Bill, which resulted in high spikes to Royalties paid for Deepwater assets.

If the government doesn’t trust Oil Companies, perhaps they will listen to professional bodies?

Beyond the phantasmagoria of his election, Alex Nachi Tarka has a call to make tto his peers at the helm at the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS). There is a lot of work to do.




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