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Malabu: ENI’s Descalzi Has Won the Politics, but Can He Escape Judicial Conviction?

By Toyin Akinosho

ENI is wrestling with the request by the Italian Public Prosecutor for conviction of the Company, its former and current CEOs and the managers involved in the Malabu case.

The company says the pursuit of convictions “are completely groundless”.

Mr. Descalzi has held the reins of the Italian E&P major for six years. His appointment, last May, for a third term of another three years by the President of Italy, is clear indication that he has won the politics of the most important challenge to his reputation.

Sergio Mattarella’s government is either convinced  that Desclazi is untainted by the Malabu case, involving alleged corrupt dealing with Nigerian officials in the course of the purchase of the Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL)245, or it would rather have a seasoned technocrat at the helm of its largest energy company to steer the country into the green economy, however smeared that technocrat is.

So, the political arm of the Italian government has signaled that it is comfortable with the 65-year-old, hard-working graduate of Physics from the University of Milan, but the country’s Judiciary has indicated, consistently, that it is not sure he is clean.

The fact that the state prosecutor is still pursuing “a conviction of the current CEO” says a lot about how it is convinced of wrongdoing.

ENI has insisted on its innocence, both in court and in public. “During its indictment, in the absence of any evidence or tangible reference to the contents of the trial investigation, the Public Prosecutor has told a story based on suggestions and deductions as already developed during the investigation. This narrative ignores both the witnesses and the files presented within the two years long and more than 40 hearings proceeding, that have decisively denied the prosecutorial hypothesis”.

Descalzi, who has been ENI’s CEO since May 2014, is on course of being the longest serving CEO of ENI in 30 years, if this case does not stop him.

He joined the company in 1981 as a young reservoir engineer. His career took off in 1994, when he was appointed Managing Director of the company’s subsidiary in Congo. Four years later he was Vice President & Managing Director of NAOC, a subsidiary of ENI in Nigeria. From 2000 to 2001 he held the position of Executive Vice President for Africa, Middle East and China. From 2002 to 2005 he was Executive Vice President for Italy, Africa, Middle East, covering also the role of member of the board of several Eni subsidiaries in the area. In 2005, he was appointed Deputy Chief Operating Officer of the Exploration & Production Division in Eni. From 2006 to 2014 he was President of Assomineraria and from 2008 to 2014 he was Chief Operating Officer in the Exploration & Production Division of ENI. From 2010 to 2014 he held the position of Chairman of ENI UK.

ENI’s press release earlier today, July 22, 2020 repeats the claim it has always made: “ENI and Shell paid a reasonable price for the license directly to the Nigerian Government, as contractually agreed and through transparent and linear means. Furthermore, Eni neither knew nor should have been aware of the possible destination of the money subsequently paid by the Nigerian government to Malabu. Moreover, the payment was made after an inquiry carried on by the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

“So there can therefore be no bribes from ENI in Nigeria, no existence of an ENI scandal. ENI recalls the decision of the Department of Justice and the US SEC, which decided to close its own investigations without taking any action against the company.

“The multiple internal investigations entrusted to international third parties by the company’s supervisory bodies have long since highlighted the absence of unlawful conduct. ENI trusts that the truth can finally be re-established following the defensive arguments that will be presented at the end of September, pending the Milan Court’s forthcoming verdict”.

 

 


Tribute: Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly

By Akinwumi A. Adesina

July 8 was all like every normal day, focused on work. I had no inkling there would be a storm, even though we have weathered many storms and floods in Abidjan in recent times. Like a jolting bolt of thunder, everything changed when my wife, Grace, called my attention to a news item that the Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly had died. I told her this couldn’t be true as he just came back and as far as I knew he was fine.

I quickly went to look at the news. I had not seen any official confirmation. I made frantic calls. Alas! Amadou Gon had died indeed. What a tragedy! This was a storm with massive lightening like no other. I couldn’t control my sadness. This man who had served his nation so loyally and with such dignity has passed on, while at work.

My thoughts went to his dear wife and family who have been thrown into sorrow, suddenly. My mind went to President Alassane Ouattara, to whom he was a beloved son, a loyal partner and confidant for some 30 years. My mind went to the government of Côte d’Ivoire, and the nation where I lived for 5 years in the 1990s and now for another 5 years so far as President of the African Development Bank. A beautiful nation whom Amadou Gon served dutifully, diligently, passionately and faithfully until his last breath.

Amadou Gon was an exemplary leader. He was my friend. I remember calling him while in Paris. I was concerned about him and although we had exchanged messages, I still was not satisfied. I wanted to hear his voice. We spoke. I was very happy he was well.

Amadou Gon deserved to be well. He was such a great champion of programs to accelerate the development of his country. He carried the vision of the President and the government wholeheartedly into every meeting, into every discussion. We met very often, and every time I was always amazed at how this very humble and serious minded public servant always put the development of his country first.

He worked very closely with the African Development Bank. He visited the Bank several times and took great interest in all matters that affect the Bank. He worked so hard with the Bank and several development partners to bring life to the social development policy of the government.

A humble man. A selfless man. A faithful man. A shining light. We met and spoke together on several forums around the world: on the plane, at airports, in high level forums and summits. My impression of him was the same: calm; wise; insightful. A man of few words, whose every word was always well honed for impact. He spoke always from his heart. An he had a heart of gold.

My heartfelt condolences go to his dear wife and family, and his aged mother. May God comfort them. My heartfelt condolences go to President Allassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. Mr. Président, you have lost your closest ally and confidant, who served you and his nation faithfully until his last breath, working for the good of Côte d’Ivoire. May God comfort you, the government and good people of Côte d’Ivoire.

My dear brother, Amadou Gon, thank you for your friendship. I was looking forward to us meeting again, in our usual warm brotherly embrace, to chat on your favorite topic: development of Côte d’Ivoire. But Alas! That is no longer to be. I guard emotions and memories of your life – your great life; and dedication and contributions to your nation. Thank you Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly. Thank you my dear friend and brother, Amadou Gon. Rest well. You will be sorely missed.

Adesina is Président, African Development Bank

 


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.

 

 

 

 

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