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Ewherido Becomes ExxonMobil’s (Global) Director of Established Areas Exploration

The Nigerian geologist Tolulope Ewherido has been promoted to the position of Director, Established Areas Exploration, ExxonMobil Upstream Company.

Up until the end of April 2022, she was the Vice President Subsurface, ExxonMobil Upstream.

A graduate of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s premier University, Ewherido is the highest ranked African technical professional in ExxonMobil worldwide.

Her current job is located in Springs, Texas in the United States, whereas, her last three positions: Exploration Manager, Guld of Mexico (2014-2017); Vice President Technical- Geoscience Exploration (2017 -2019) and Vice President, Subsurface, (2019-2022) were all in Houston, Texas.

In a wide ranging, in-depth 2018 interview with the earth science journal GeoExpro, Mrs. Ewherido described her promotion to Vice President, Technical Geoscience Exploration as “a global role with probably the broadest scope of any I have had”.

She has since stepped higher, of course,

Ewherido has spent 31 years in the company and has been taking job after job of increasing responsibility.

Her career actually took off when she became General Manager, Nigeria Production Geoscience in 2007.

“I have to admit, I’m a production geologist at heart,” she told GeoExpro, which is published in the UK: “I really like the part of the value chain post-discovery when you are evaluating the field and working out the concepts that will deliver maximum productivity, recovery and profitability and then executing that over the life of the field.”

At that time (15 years ago), Nigeria was a significant heartland of the company’s global portfolio. Ewherido moved up in 2009 to become General Manger, Nigeria Deepwater Venture Projects.

In May 2012, which is around 10 years ago, she left Nigeria for the United States, on a posting as Commercial Manager, Exploration, Americas Region. She has moved  on  farther up from there.



Seplat Considers a Contract Job for Orjiako, its Would-be Former Chairman

Seplat Energy has confirmed that it is currently in discussions with Ambrosie Bryant Chukwueloka (ABC) Orjiako, for a contract with the company after his retirement from the board as the company’s chairman.

Orjiako will step down at the end of the Annual General Meeting on 18 May 2022.

The contract will be about how Orjiako “would assist Seplat Energy Plc with specific and essential external stakeholder engagements he is currently involved in, which will continue beyond the date he steps down”.

Mr. Orjiako, a Medical Doctor by training, is a founder of the company and has been its chairman for 12 years; eight of them spent after the company was listed on the London and Nigeria Stock Exchanges, and four of them prior to the listing (that is, since inception of the board on May 1, 2010).

The company clarifies that “no contract has been finalised yet and the contractual role to be performed by Dr Orjiako, will not be in conflict with the role of the incoming Independent Non-Executive Chairman”.

Seplat Energy explains: “Assuming a contract is subsequently agreed, on signature, the Company will fully disclose the terms in accordance with regulatory requirements”.

Meanwhile, “an accelerated contractual payment, under Dr. Orjiako’s current service contract, will be made post AGM 2022, in line with the Shareholders’ approved Remuneration Policies and fully disclosed in the Company’s Directors Remuneration Report for 2022”, the statement concludes.


SEPLAT’s Two Founders Would be Out of Its Board by June 2022

By Macson Obojemuinmoin

Basil Omiyi, former Shell Nigeria CEO, likely to step in as Interim Chairman …

Seplat Energy, Africa’s largest homegrown E&P independent, has appointed three new directors to its board.

Two of these incoming directors will be replacing the two men who founded the company in 2009 and took it to list on the London Stock Exchange five years later.

Kazeem Raimi will step in as a Non-Executive Director, replacing Austin Avuru, the company’s founding Managing Director, who represented the interest of Platform Petroleum on the board. Ernest Ebi arrives as a Non-Executive Director, replacing A.B.C.Orjiako, Chairman of the board who leaves his position at the end of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on May 18, 2022.

The third new appointee, Bashirat Odunewu (Mrs.) is an independent Non-Executive Director. She will be taking the board seat to be vacated by Charles Okeahalam at the AGM. Mr. Okeahalam, a professor of Econometrics and co-founder of the investment firm AGH Capital, has been on the board as far back as 2013.

Which means, effectively, that Messrs Orjiako and Avuru, who came together as heads of Shebah Petroleum and Platform Petroleum respectively in 2009 and created the company as a Special Purpose Vehicle to purchase Shell &Co’s equity in Oil Mining Leases (OMLs 4, 38 & 41), will have been out of the board by the morning of May 19, 2022.

None of the two would be on the board to be personally part of the finalization of the company’s most transformational deal: the purchase of Mobil Producing Nigeria (2021 net output: 99,000BOEPD), with vast upside (Fuller details of this story in the April 2022 edition of the monthly Africa Oil+Gas Report).

SEPLAT ENERGY HAS CONDUCTED A WIDE SEARCH FOR A CHAIRMAN, outside the current board. For now, however,  the company is likely to settle for one of the members: Basil Omiyi, former CEO, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and former Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCIN), as interim Chair. Omiyi is an important historic figure in the Nigerian oil industry.  His appointment, exactly twenty years ago, as the first Nigerian CEO of SPDC (and the first Nigerian CEO of any upstream oil major operating in the country), was a high-water mark in the currents of Nigerian local capacity development in the sector.

So, who are the new appointees to the Seplat Energy Board?

Bashirat Odunewu (Independent Non- Executive Director) is a Banking and financial expert with about 30 years’ experience in the Finance and Banking Industry. Up till June 2021, she served as C-Suite executive, corporate banking (Energy, Natural Resources & Infrastructure), at First Bank Nigeria Ltd, prior to which she was the line executive for their international banking group where she supervised CEOs of the subsidiaries of First Bank in six African countries as well as the Bank’s Representative office in China and served as a board member for several of them.

She is an Independent NED on the Board of Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc (an NGX quoted company) and is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Franco-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce and Industry where she serves as the Treasurer.



Kazeem Raimi (Non-Executive Director) is a nominee of Platform Petroleum Limited

replacing Mr. Austin Avuru who stepped down from the Board of Seplat Energy on 1st March 2022. Mr. Raimi is presently the Executive Director, Commercial for Platform Petroleum Limited. Previously with Seplat Energy as General Manager, Commercial, Mr. Raimi was charged with the responsibility for driving commercial, economics, valuation, planning and treasury activities across the entire organisation. He also served previously as Manager, Corporate Planning and Economics at Seplat Energy.  

Mr. Raimi has extensive experience in project economics and risk analysis having been Lead Petroleum Economics and Commercial Advisor at Addax Petroleum Nigeria where he also served in different capacities.


Ernest Ebi (Non-Executive Director) is a nominee of Shebah Petroleum Development Company Limited (BVI) replacing Dr. A.B.C Orjiako who will step down from the Board of Seplat Energy on 18th May 2022 after the Annual General Meeting. Mr. Ebi is an executive whose vast experience in the banking and finance industry spans over four (4) decades. From June 1999 to June 2009, he was appointed as a Deputy Governor at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria’s apex bank, where he covered policy and corporate services portfolios. Prior to this, Mr. Ebi held several executive positions in the banking industry in Nigeria and the United States of America. He was the Deputy Managing Director in Diamond Bank Ltd where he led the bank’s financial services marketing strategy & initiatives for new business development amongst others. In 1995, he was appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation as the Managing Director & CEO of New Nigerian Bank Plc.


FAR Fires Catherine Norman as Chief Executive

By Toyin Akinosho, Publisher

She oversaw the highly rewarding entry into Senegal, but superintended two disappointing dry holes offshore The Gambia…

Australian minnow FAR Limited, has fired its charismatic managing director.

FAR “advises that Catherine Norman has been given notice of termination from her role as Managing Director, effective immediately and has resigned as a director of the Company”, the company says in a release.

The personable Catherine Norman has been the face of FAR for over 10 years, presenting the company’s case for shareholder value at high profile conferences focused on the African hydrocarbon resource. A geophysicist by training, she was managing director at four companies (World Geoscience (UK) Limited, Fugro Airborne Surveys, Gippsland Offshore Petroleum and Flow Energy Ltd) before she jointed FAR in November 2011. She oversaw FAR’s highly rewarding entry into Senegal and was responsible for the decision that the company would take on the risk to explore the Northwest African margin (known as the MSGBC Basin). But the region has performed far below expectations. FAR has been particularly affected. Ms. Norman superintended two highly disappointing dry holes off The Gambia and the company has had to give up three assets in Guinea Bissau.

“Independent Chairman Patrick O’Connor will oversee the business during a period of transition”, FAR explains.

“With more than three decades’ Board and senior management experience across multiple industries including mining and oil & gas exploration, Mr O’Connor will manage the corporate activities of the Company to support FAR as it continues to progress its strategy to unlock shareholder value”.

It says: “Ms. Norman will also be available during her 12-month notice period to assist with any transitional matters as required, in accordance with her employment contract”.

“The time has now come for a fresh perspective to ensure the Company explores every opportunity to realise value for shareholders”,  Mr O’Connor says in the company’s release, thanking Ms. Norman, on behalf of the Board, “for her significant contribution to the company”.

Pearl Uzokwe is New Head of Sahara Group Foundation

The Board of Sahara Group has approved the appointment of Pearl Uzokwe as Director, Sahara Foundation, the group’s corporate responsibility vehicle.

Ms. Uzokwe, who joined Sahara as Legal Manager, most recently functioned as its pioneer Director of Governance and Sustainability, “where she championed Sahara Group’s energy transition efforts”, according to a company statement.

Bethel Obioma, spokesman for the Sahara Group, reports that the Sahara Foundation has recorded over two million beneficiaries through several sustainable projects, and “now focuses on enhancing access to energy and promoting sustainable environments”.

Obioma’s statement quotes Ivie Imasogie-Adigun, Head, Group HR, Sahara Group: “Sahara Foundation is at the heart of who we are in terms of bringing benevolence to life and the Board is delighted to have Pearl lead the Foundation’s new strategic direction as Sahara deploys projects and collaborates with regional and global organizations to protect our environment and ensure access to energy, leaving no one behind.”


Shell Appoints Sinead Gorman as New CFO

Shell has announced the appointment of Sinead Gorman as its Chief Financial Officer, effective April 1, 2022.

She will become a member of both Shell’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

Ms. Gorman will be taking over from Jessica Uhl, who is stepping down from her role on March 31, 2022. Ms. Uhi will be available to assist Sinead and the Board with transition until June 30, 2022, after which she will leave the group.

Gorman, a British national, is currently Executive Vice President, Finance in Shell’s global Upstream business. She started her career as a civil engineer before pivoting to a finance career when she joined Shell in 1999. Since then, she has held several increasingly senior finance roles in all Shell’s major businesses, in Europe, North America and latterly globally. A British national, she will be based in London.

A Shell statement says that Uhi “was a key architect of recent strategic changes, including the simplification of the company’s share structure and the relocation of the corporate headquarters, along with the roles of chief executive officer and chief financial officer, from The Netherlands to the UK. However, due to family circumstances a long-term relocation to the UK is not sustainable, and therefore she will step down from her role”.

Olayemi Anyanechi is Appointed Legal Adviser at NUPRC

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission has appointed a Cambridge University trained senior lawyer from the private sector as Commission Secretary/Legal Adviser.

For the agency, created six months ago by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), Anyanechi is considered a huge catch, given her pedigree and years of experience in legal practice. She was, until her appointment, Managing Partner at Sefton Fross, a law firm she founded in 2013. She had been Group Legal Counsel at Sahara Group, and a Senior Partner at Templars Law firm, before she founded Sefton Fross, which is very strong in corporate, finance and oil and gas practice sectors.

“Her appointment was made on the basis of the need to improve efficiency and professionalism of the Commission’s legal department”, says Gbenga Komolafe, the NUPRC’s Chief Executive. “The regulator is about the law, and we need to get it right”.

Mrs, Anyanechi was senior counsel and head of Corporate Commercial Department at Olaniwun Ajayi LP. Anyenechi received her first degree in law at the University of Ibadan before she proceeded, as a Chevening Scholar, for Master of Laws – LLM, Corporate and Commercial Law at Cambridge. At Cambridge, she also became a Pegasus Scholar of the Inner Temple. She has a Master of Philosophy – MPhil, Finance, in Financial Sector Management from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.


Guido Brusco Is ENI’s New Director General, Natural Resources

Guido Brusco has been nominated Director General, Natural Resourcesat ENI, the Italian oil major.

The appointment is effective from February 7, 2022.

Brusco takes over from Alessandro Puliti, who leaves the company.

Guido Brusco has been ENI’s Upstream Director since 2020. He joined the company in 1997, holding positions of increasing responsibility in the areas of production and operations, with experiences in Italy, Egypt, Kazakhstan and Angola. Prior to his current role he was in charge of Eni’s activities in Sub-Saharan Africa.



Fatona’s Boots? “No, I Came with My Own Shoes”-Falade, NDEP’s CEO

By Akpelu Paul Kelechi

Gbite Falade, Chief Executive of Niger Delta Exploration & Production (NDEP), has considered the possibility of a divine hand guiding his choice of careers in a way that led to his current role.

“I told the interviewers I was born to do this job”, says Falade, whose first-year anniversary in the saddle of Nigeria’s most diversified, private energy producer, comes up on Thursday February 10, 2022.

“I said it not out of pride. I took a review of all the roles I have done prior to coming in here and it was as if there was a divine hand guiding the choices and selection of the experiences that I have picked up in preparation of an NDEP that is an integrated energy company”, he explains, in a wide-ranging interview on the goals of the company’s near-term future, in terms of strategy, deliverables and the energy transition.

NDEP produces and sells kerosine, diesel and aviation fuel from its own refinery; supplies natural gas from a processing plant sited on its lone producing field: Ogbele, to a local manufacturing firm as well as the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited. It produces and exports crude oil. And, in Falade’s telling, in the next nine months, “the naphtha that is coming out from (the refinery) Trains 2 and 3 right now would be the feedstock for the production of LPG and PMS (gasoline) which are two vital refined products that we need as a country”.

Falade narrates that he “started off in the IOCs and then I moved on to an African Independent from there”.  He was the commercial executive of the Gas & Power division. “At the IOC, where I started from, I was in E&P but I ended up being a commercial executive there as well. From there, I was the pioneer Chief Operating Officer for that African Independent for their upstream acquisition. Then I left that role to become the Managing Director of the biggest indigenous service company that is into project management and all of that”.

Falade says the sum total of his experience is relevant across all the various sectors that NDEP has footprint “and so, this is not a job that I came into with an apprehension of a knowledge gap or a blind spot in a particular sector, I feel very much at home. I was excited that I was the guy that the company was going to entrust itself in his hand to lead it into what I call the next phase”.

He admits that his predecessor, Layiwola Fatona, has a huge name in the industry. “I knew that I was always going to have a backdrop to my performance on the job. I knew I was coming in after Dr. Fatona, which was going to be a difficult task because he personally embodied and typified what this organization is and with this organization, he is a leading light; a foremost practitioner in the industry so following such a person who has such a pedigree and who has also performed so well in nurturing this enterprise to this point was always going to be a difficult task.

“But I was clear in my mind that my mission is not to step into Dr. Fatona’s boots but to bring my own shoes. And that is what I have done and my intention is that, it is horses for courses. The company is set on a different path going forward and I believe that I am the right candidate to take it through that path and not necessarily as a like-for-like replacement for Dr. Fatona but as a complimentary bolt on the foundation that he and others have laid”.

This is the second in a four-part series of published interviews with Mr. Falade.

Craig Steinke is New Executive Chairman of ReconAfrica

ReconAfrica, the Canadian minnow operating millions of acres of the Namibia/Botswana Kavango Basin, has appointed Craig Steinke as a director and executive Chairman of the Board.

Steinke, who founded the company, “has played a pivotal role since inception in the development of ReconAfrica through his private energy consulting practice”, ReconAfrica says in a release.

ReconAfrica shot into the consciousness of the global oil patch when it reported, a “a working petroleum system” in the Kavango Basin, after drilling a stratigraphic test well last March. The Kavango Basin was largely unknown to the industry until then. It is an old miogeosyncline, formed in the Permian (the last period of the Paleozoic era, which ended about 250Million years ago).

“Mr. Steinke has over 25 years of experience in identifying, successfully developing and financing oil and natural gas exploration and production projects in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia”, ReconAfrica explains. “Additionally, through his privately held company, Mr. Steinke plays an active role leading a diversified team, in generating new sources and technologies for sustainable energy”.

Leaving the board of directors is Jay Park, one of the Company’s early stage and significant shareholders, who has served the Company and its predecessor Reconnaissance Oil as its Chief Executive Officer from May 2018 to August 2020, and then as the Company’s executive Chairman. “Mr. Park will continue to take the leading role in advising ReconAfrica on all oil and gas legal matters through Park Energy Law where he is Managing Partner”, the release states.


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