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Tullow Chases the Same Fortune as ENI; Takes More Position in Cote D’Ivoire

By Marcus Michelangelo, in Accra

Tullow Oil has signed Production Sharing Contract for new offshore exploration licence in Côte d’Ivoire in order to chase leads in the country’s segment of the Tano Basin.

Tullow will operate the CI-803 licence with 90% equity, the remaining 10% is held by PetroCi. CI-803 covers an area of 1,345 square kilometres and is adjacent to licence CI-524 which is also held by Tullow (90%, operator) and PetroCi (10%).

Tullow produces hydrocarbon in the Ghana segment of the basin, but its forays in Cote D’Ivoire have not delivered commercial results.

In 2021, however, the Italian explorer ENI reported the discovery of a massive tank of oil and gas in their first wildcat in Côte d’Ivoire. Baleine-1X was drilled in 1,200metre water to a TD of 3445metres, targeting Cretaceous sands in the Tano,which is a Transform Margin.  The company currently carries a figure as high as 2Billion BOE as ultimate recoverable reserves in the Baleine Structure.

Tullow’s managers, clearly sat up and took notice. Houston based Vanco (now defunct) had held the acreage in 2007 and just fell short of drilling this major prospect, supported by amplitude and a large ‘gas cloud’, according to a report by GeoExpro. In 2013 and 2014Lukoil drilled the Capitaine EastIndependence and Orca fields nearby, finding sub-commercial volumes of oil in Upper Cretaceous sands, GeoExpro explains

Tullow’s management is convinced it can deploy the geoscientific skill sets that helped ENI to nail the Baleine mega structure. “Significant prospectivity has been identified within the proven Cretaceous turbidite plays, similar to the plays which are producing in the adjacent TEN and Jubilee Fields. The work programme for the initial two and a half years includes reprocessing of existing 3D seismic data, along with prospect evaluation. In CI-524, a number of drill candidates are being matured while preparations continue for an exploration well to be drilled during 2024”.


Smarting from a Stalemate in Nigeria, ExxonMobil Exits Chad and Looks to Wind Up in Eq. Guinea

By Macson Obojemuinmoin, in Kribi

The US major remains fully engaged in Angola but is unsure of investment decisions in Mozambique

It is official. ExxonMobil is done with Chad; one of the four sub-Saharan African countries in which it has operated upstream hydrocarbon assets for the last 30 years.

The company has finalized the sale of its entire upstream and midstream asset portfolio in Chad and Cameroon, including operatorship of the upstream assets (through the sale of Esso Exploration and Production Chad Inc., its subsidiary, and the former operator) for $407Million. Savannah Energy, the buyer, now owns a 40% interest in the Doba Oil Project (comprisinginterests in seven producing fields) with a combined gross 2P Reserve base of 142.3Million barrels (MMbbls) as at October 1, 2022 and expected 2022 gross production of 28, 000Barrels of Oil Per Day and an effective c. 40% indirect interest in the Chad-Cameroon export transportation system comprising a 1,081 km pipeline and the Kome Kribi 1 floating storage and offloading facility, offshore Cameroon.

ExxonMobil didn’t own any upstream asset in Chad. Themajor’s involvement with the country was in the form of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline and the production terminal off the coast of Kribi.

WITH CHAD GONE, ExxonMobil still has shallow water assets for sale in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. The former is held up in regulatory challenges. The latter is struggling for the right buyers.

The Nigerian sale in which ExxonMobil is disposing off Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU), a wholly owned subsidiary, was blocked by the state hydrocarbon company NNPC, with which ExxonMobil has been in arbitration.

ExxonMobil’s Angolan and Mozambican assets are in deepwater. The company has shown no indication, in public, of willingness to divest these. In November 2022, ExxonMobil reported a discovery in Block 15, its sole asset in Angola. The Bavuca South-1 well is part of the Angola Block 15 redevelopment project, aimed at producing approximately 40,000 barrels of oil per day to help offset natural production declines. It is also staying on in deepwater Nigeria, where it has only recently renewed its licences.

The supermajor’s entry into Mozambique is far more recent and whereas there has been significant front end-loading work on a 15Million Tonne Per Annum Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project it is leading, the ferocious armed insurgency happening close to the site of the project in Cabo Delgado Province in the north of Mozambique, is holding up Final Investment Decision.


Canada Balances International Scales at Calgary’s Global Energy Show

By Tako Koning

Houston, Texas is the energy capital of the world.

The city of Calgary in Canada’s western province of Alberta is, however, the energy capital of Canada.  With a population of approximately 1.5Million people, Calgary hosts annually the Global Energy Show, North America’s leading, fully integrated energy event which will be held again June 13 – 15, 2023.

Many people are not aware that Canada ranks as the world’s fourth largest oil producer at 4.2Million barrels of oil per day.Only the USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia produce more oil than Canada. This country is also the world’s sixth largest producer of natural gas.

In terms of area, Canada is the second largest country in the world, after Russia, and with its vast sedimentary basins Canada remains much under explored for oil and gas.

This country is also much undeveloped for renewable energy including geothermal, wind, solar, hydro and nuclear energy and increasingly hydrogen. On February 24, 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine leading to serious concerns about global shortages of oil and gas.  Canada has caught the world’s attention due to this country’s ability to provide large volumes of secure, stable and safe supplies of energy for domestic and overseas consumers.

The world’s largest oil and gas event is the annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston but the OTC is primarily focused on offshore oil and gas technology.  In comparison, Calgary’s Global Energy Show is focused on both onshore and offshore oil and gas. As well, it is highly focused on the technology, economics, financing and geopolitics of the energy transition.

The Global Energy Show believes that no single source of energy can meet the ever-increasing global energy demand. This conference is where Canada demonstrates its vision and leadership by bringing key people together to meet global challenges with real-world solutions.  The conference addressesenergy sustainability strategies, how oil and gas is still vital to a functioning economy and uncovering how hydrogen has the potential to power our everyday lives.  The Global Energy Show states that “our major international conference will investigate new avenues for renewable energy and how cleantech investments and innovations are at the forefront of decarbonization”.

The Top 3 Strategic Conference Panels focus on the following:

1. Balancing the International Scales: Are Unsettling Geopolitical Situations Threatening the Energy Transition?

2. Nuclear, The Myth, The Legend

3. The Great Carbon Capture Debate -A Real Solution or Another Way to Extend the Use of Fossil Fuels?

The following will be participating in this globally-focused conference: (1.) Government entities (2.) Service & supply companies (3.) Gas & LNG companies (4.) Integrated energy companies (5.) Transmission & distribution (6.) Refineries and maintenance (7.) Clean technology companies (8.) Power generation and utilities (9.) Technology providers (10.) Legal & industry analysts (11.) National & international oil companies (12.) Financers & investors.

This event includes a comprehensive exhibition floor with over 600 exhibitors across five exhibition halls and a large outdoor zone where heavy oil and gas equipment will be available for visiting, inspecting and purchasing.  The total floor space is over one million square feet.

The 2023 Global Energy Conference anticipates the following:

30,000+ attendees
1,000 Delegates from 50 countries
600+ Exhibiting companies
300+ Presenting speakers
15 National Oil Companies (NOCs)
30 International Oil Companies (IOCs)
The importance of Calgary in the world of energy is also highlighted that the 24th World Petroleum Congress (WPC) will be held in this city September 17 – 21, 2023. The 16th World Petroleum Congress was also held in Calgary twenty-two years ago in 2000. However, the World Petroleum Congress is more useful for high-level government officials including provincial and national energy regulators, ministers of petroleum and energy, and executives of major international and national oil companies.  In contrast, the Global Energy Show is much more focused on grass-roots energy development at all levels, from small to large scale.

The author of this article for the Africa Oil + Gas Report has attended the Global Energy Show for many years.  He believes that this event is an excellent venue for networking and learning.  Furthermore, it provides an opportunity for international and local companies to promote and sell their products.  An example of the opportunities provided by the Global Energy Show is that at last year’s event a pavilion was made available for Nigeria-based oil companies and service providers to meet Canadian and international counterparts and also to meet with the many Nigerian Canadians living in Calgary.

Tako Koning is a senior geologist and energy consultant based in Calgary. He is Netherlands-born but Canada-raised.  He has a B.Sc. in Geology from the University of Alberta and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Calgary.  He worked for thirty years for Texaco in Canada, Indonesia, Nigeria and Angola.  He also consulted in Angola for Tullow Oil and Gaffney, Cline & Associates.   For the past twenty-one years he has been on the International Advisory Board of Africa Oil + Gas Report since it was founded by Toyin Akinosho in 2001.


TOTAL Hopes to Deliver Crude for Less than $20 Per Barrel in Angola’s New Development

TOTALEnergies says that its “standardization of subsea equipment” will ensure much lower cost of production in its ongoing Begónia development in Block 17/06, offshore Angola.

The company took Final Investment Decision on the project in July 2022.

“In this emblematic block”, says Olivier Jouny, TOTALEnergies’ CEO in the country, the company “shows its leadership in deep waters, at low cost (less than 20 dollars per barrel)”.

The Begónia reservoir, located in water depths ranging from 700metres to 1,000metres, will be developed through five subsea wells (three for production and two for water injection), connected to the floating production, storage and offloading unit FPSO Pazflor, in production since 2011 in Block 17.

The first oil, scheduled for the first half of 2025, will increase production from FPSO Pazflor by around 30,000 barrels of oil per day.

Investment in Begónia is $850Million, with TOTALEnergies as operator of Block 17/06 with a 30% stake, together with Sonangol P&P (20%), SSI (27.5%), Somoil (10%), ACREP (5%) Falcon Oil (5%) and PTTEP (2.5%).

 


World Bank Director Speaks on High Oil Price Implications for Nigeria

Shubham Chaudhuri, recently transferred from Afghanistan to Nigeria as World Bank Country Director, has been turning ideas on his mind explaining how high crude oil prices have impacted Nigeria in the last 50 years. And how they could impact Africa’s largest economy in the next decade.

He will be making public some of his conclusions as the speaker at the Quarterly Dinner of the Petroleum Club, Lagos on Monday, December 5, 2022.

Chaudhuri’s subject is Nigeria in a World of Higher Oil Prices; The Difference this Time and Longer-Term Implications.

The 16-year-old Petroleum Club, a private Club where leaders in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry and the technical elite of the oil patch, interact, unwind and share ideas on issues concerning the sector, thought this subject up, in part, to compare the challenges that the country faces in this current era of windfall prices, with what it faced in previous eras, including the “Oil Boom” period of the early to mid 70s, and the Gulf War windfall of the 1990s.

The Petroleum Club, at dinner

Chaudhuri, who spent a decade as an economics professor and Director of the Programme in Economic and Political Development at Columbia University in New York, before joining the World Bank in 2004, has been outspokenly critical of Nigeria’s spending of its oil revenues on subsidizing gasoline importation.

“Supposing the federation’s gross revenues next year (if oil production picks up) could be somewhere in the ₦12Trillion range”, he told ThisDay, an influential local daily, in an interview. “This N250Billion per month means ₦3Trillion over the next 12 months, which means the federation will essentially be spending 25 per cent of the entire federation’s revenue on premium motor spirit (PMS) subsidy”, he lamented. “That is the federation’s choice obviously, but is it an informed choice and does the public know who exactly is benefiting from this N3Trillion or who will benefit from this ₦3Trillion?”

The issues, on Monday evening at the Metropolitan Club in Lagos, are however broader. And they include mid- and long-term budgetary projections on the economy based on crude oil and gas revenues.

Chaudhuri’s areas of expertise are Macroeconomic and Structural Policies. He was the South Asia and Indonesia Practice Manager for the World Bank’s Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management Global Practice, where he oversaw macro-fiscal and economic policy-related work. He was the manager of the Washington, DC-based team of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Department for East Asia and the Pacific.

As Lead Economist for Indonesia, Chaudhuri was responsible for leading the overall economic policy dialogue, advisory and development policy lending work in Indonesia. He managed the Jakarta-based economics team, which works closely with partners in government and in the development community to further Indonesia’s development agenda. Prior to relocating to Jakarta in early 2008, Chaudhuri worked primarily on China and on East Asia regional policy issues.

 

 


In Egypt, BP Digs in, Grabbing More Asset in the Mediterranean

The British major bp is not about to exit Africa, as the speculations suggest. It is leaving Libya, winding down in Angola, but increasing positions in Egypt.
The company has announced it has just been awarded two exploration blocks in the Mediterranean Sea, offshore Egypt by the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company.

“The Northwest Abu Qir Offshore Area – in which bp, the operator, holds 82.75% and Wintershall-Dea holds 17.25% – is located west of the recently awarded North King Mariout block (bp 100%) and north of the Raven field”, bp says in the announcement. “It covers an area of approximately 1038 square kilometres with water depths ranging between 600 metres and 1600 metres.

“The Bellatrix-Seti East block – in which bp and Eni, the operator, each hold a 50% share – is located west of the Atoll field and North Tabya blocks. It covers an area of approximately 3440 square kilometres with water depths ranging between 100 metres and 1200 metres”.

Prior to these awards, bp had earlier, in 2022, been awarded three acreages: King Mariout Offshore Area (100% bp), North El Fayrouz offshore area (50% bp and 50% ENI, the operator) and the North El Tabya area extension (100% bp).


The Facts, The Figures: Why NNPC’s Divestment is the Place to Go

By the Editorial Board of Africa Oil+Gas Report

For close to 50 years, the company formerly known as Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has functioned essentially in two key areas of the petroleum industry.

The first is upstream crude oil and natural gas operations.

The second comprises services, midstream, and downstream activity.

A close examination of the performance of this state-owned entity, in these sectors, in those decades, provides us a handy guide to determine the merit of the recent calls for its outright privatization.

In the 49 years since Nigeria inaugurated the Joint Venture scheme between NNPC and multinational companies, six (6) international majors, have effectively produced all of Nigeria’s crude oil and gas output.

These multinationals have been self-regulating, with high standards of efficiency, governance, and application of technology, that, in spite of NNPC, they planned and executed programmes for national production, which grew to a peak of 2.531Barrels per day (crude oil and condensate) in 2010, according to the BP Review of Statistics, an industry bible of production data. It was easy for NNPC, the 57% (average) equity holder of the JVs, to take credit for these numbers.

Now the multinationals have, since 2012, been steadily implementing a withdrawal and are being replaced by Nigerian independents who do not have the same standards, efficiency, governance, and application of technology.

In the same hydrocarbon patch in which these six multinationals could collectively produce 2.5Million Barrels per day, there are now over 30 producing companies, “superintended” by NNPC, collectively struggling to deliver 1.3Million Barrels per day (crude oil and condensates), with heavy sweating. It’s not a challenge of geology, we aver, but above-surface issues.

Throughout what is now known as the golden era of Nigerian crude production, NNPC’s main contribution has been the long, dispiriting stretch of contracting cycles and delayed cash call payments.

Now the NNPC has grown larger in terms of asset footprint, with more acreages handed to them in those last 10 years; the same decade in which the multinationals have retreated and Nigerian production has shriveled.

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of the fiscal contribution of oil and gas to the Nigerian treasury comes from rent: taxes and royalties and only 12% come from revenues accruing to NNPC from its equity in the Joint Ventures as well as share in Petroleum Sharing Contracts. NNPC’s whopping 57% of the main oil and gas producing projects translates to only 12% of the total contributions of oil and gas to the treasury. What this means in simple terms is this. If we assume that Nigeria is producing 2.5 Million barrels per day today, then NNPC’s entitlement will be 1.425Million barrels per day. This volume is what is the Federation volume. It is the one whose proceeds are always consistently underperforming. It is the one that Ahmed El Rufai, governor of the Nigerian northwestern state of Kaduna, alleges, never reaches the Federation account. It is this NNPC equity entitlement, that we aver, contributes just 12% of the total contributions of oil and gas to the treasury, at the best of times.

The bulk of contribution to the National Treasury from oil and gas comes from the petroleum profit tax (now hydrocarbon tax) and royalties that are paid by Shell, Chevron, TOTAL, ExxonMobil, ENI, Seplat, NDEP, NDWestern, AITEO, Newcross, Amni, Elcrest, First Hydrocarbon Nigeria, Midwestern, Lekoil, First E&P, Conoil, Green Energy, Energia, Waltersmith, Platform, Britannia U, Savannah Energy, Sahara Energy, Oando, Shoreline, Neconde, Heirs Holdings, Oriental Resources, Eroton, NNPC itself and several others.

And there is another point we have to make here. It is its “senior” position in the JVs and its management of the PSCs that has provided NNPC the opportunity to wreak so much havoc (Poor cash call remittances, long contracting cycles, bullying service companies into partnerships with NNPC owned service companies and then insisting the contracts for oilfield service be awarded to those partnerships).

If NNPC was holding a zero percent interest in these JVs, the national purse will feel a more positive impact.

This is why the Africa Oil+Gas Report has always made the argument for the reduction of NNPC equity in the JVs.

The clearest example of the need for NNPC to be less than a 50% shareholder in Nigeria’s oil and gas projects is the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Ltd. Its an incorporated joint venture of NNPC with three European majors (UK’s Shell, France’s TOTAL and Italy’s ENI) in which NNPC has 49% equity. That less than 50% NNPC equity allows these companies a breather to run one of the most profitable hydrocarbon operations (no cash call (payables) issues, no approval challenges for projects, no bullying), with billions of dollars guaranteed as dividends meant for the National Treasury.

Apart from JVs and Production Sharing Agreements in oil and gas production, the NNPC has an extensive network of subsidiaries, some of them service companies, some of them midstream companies, some are in transportation and some are in marketing.

The NNPC runs refineries. It has depots and pipelines for petroleum product storage and distribution.

It has a seismic acquisition and seismic data processing subsidiary chrsitened Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL); it has an engineering company named NETCO. It has a crude oil marketing division for marketing the Federation crude.

The refineries have not performed above 25% of their capacity since 1997, which is 25 years ago. NNPC’s bungling of its mandate to refine-the Nigerian- crude is one of the most brazen acts of de-industrialisation of the Nigerian economy by any state-owned enterprise.

NNPC, the one-time corporation, now a Limited Liability Company, had three petrochemical plants, each in Warri, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna. The one in Port Harcourt was built as a stand-alone from the refinery. The Warri and Kaduna Petrochemical plants are located inside the refineries.

Nigeria took the bold step to privatize the Port Harcourt Petrochemical plant, named Eleme Petrochemicals. It has been so successful that the 10% equity of it that is owned by the Rivers State Government is probably the state’s largest investment.

The petrochemical plants that remain in NNPC’s control are shabby; they have not sold a bag of petrochemicals for 30 years.

Let us go to crude oil marketing.

Every large oil producer, even lowly Angola, sells its crude oil directly on its own through its state hydrocarbon company.

NNPC is the only such state company that does not market its crude.  It has to allocate to companies who line up every year waiting for an arbitrage opportunity. Nigeria is the only place where you have to allocate crude oil to middlemen to sell.

Even Duke Oil, the NNPC’s crude marketing subsidiary, doesn’t sell directly. It markets through other entities.

The data acquisition and processing company, IDSL and the engineering firm, NETCO, each forms partnership with the competition. By using the weight of the NNPC, they get the contracts that oil companies would have awarded directly to their competition and hand over the work to the competition to do. IDSL, on its own, does not process a single kilometre of seismic data.

NPDC has been delinquent in paying taxes and royalties on most of the assets in which it is 55% or 60% joint venture partner to private producing companies. Most of these assets were assigned to them by NNPC: NNPC novated its equity in several joint ventures to NPDC, but the latter has never paid the equivalent market price for those assets.

NNPC’s Petroleum distribution is probably the most inefficient of all its operations. The petroleum product pipeline system is supposed to ensure the minimal presence of tankers on Nigerian roads. The failure of that system is the reason for some of the most fatal traffic accidents across the breadth of the country.

If NNPC is scrapped today, what will the Federation account lose?

But that’s already a stretch of the argument.

This editorial is part of the Public Service contribution of the Africa Oil+Gas Report.


Zimbabwe Wildcat: Working Petroleum System Doesn’t Mean a Discovery

By John Mokwena, in Johannesburg

Australian minnow Invictus Energy has reported “fluorescence and elevated gas shows of up to 65 times above background levels” in the Upper Angwa sequence, a primary target in the Mukuyu-1 well in Zimbabwe’s Cabora Bassa Basin.

The company also reports “elevated gas shows and resistivity in shallower Pebbly Arkose formation” and has so declared that there’s a “working conventional hydrocarbon system” in the frontier Cabora Bassa Basin.

The company hasn’t declared a commercial discovery, as these mudlog interpretations are not ever any geoscientist’s basis for calling a discovery.

Invictus is going ahead to drill to a planned total depth of 3,500 metres Measured Depth.

The Mukuyu-1 well is being drilled in Invictus Energy’s 80% owned SG 4571 license.

Scott Macmillan, the company’s Managing Director, says that while “the presence of elevated mud gas readings, fluorescence in the cuttings, elevated LWD resistivity and increasing background gas with depth is a positive sign as we progress through the Upper Angwa Alternations Member”, the company still has several hundred metres of drilling “through our primary targets with additional potential, which will be followed by a comprehensive wireline logging programme to evaluate results, with the aim of confirming the presence of moveable hydrocarbons in multiple zones.”

So far, the 8½” hole section of the well has been drilled to a depth of 3,086 metres Measured Depth. Elevated mud gas peaks (up to 65 times above the background gas baseline) have been observed while drilling through a depth of 3,070 mMD with marked increases from C1 to C5 compounds (methane, ethane, propane, butanes, and pentanes).


Yes, Seplat Doesn’t Own the Amukpe-Escravos Pipeline, So Who Does?

The Amukpe-Escravos crude oil evacuation pipeline (AEP) has started to work after 14 years of construction.

And the question of its ownership stubbornly lingers.

Staff and management of Pan Ocean, a Nigerian independent E&P company, are often irked by media reports which suggest that Seplat Energy controls the 20 inch, 67km facility.

Seplat Energy’s spokespersons reinforce those misgivings with press statements like: “The commercial launch of the Amukpe-Escravos Pipeline is a significant event for Seplat Energy and for Nigeria”.

But “at no time did Seplat Energy, nor Seplat Energy/NPDC JV, say that they owned the Amukpe Escravos Pipeline”, Seplat officials argue.

So, what’s the story?

The pipeline was part of the assets in the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 98 Joint Venture between Pan Ocean, and NNPC, the state hydrocarbon company

Pan Ocean had 40% and NNPC had 60%, which means the construction was being carried out with funding by the two parties.

Government revoked Pan Ocean’s licence in OML 98, which was effectively the 40% equity. It then handed that 40% equity to NPDC, the operating subsidiary of the NNPC.

NNPC itself novated its 60% share in the JV to NPDC, making NPDC the 100% holder of OML 98.

But Pan Ocean went to President Buhari and pleaded that it had invested so much on the pipeline as well as the gas facility in the acreage. The president granted its prayers, so the company kept its 40% in the pipeline and the gas facility. As the company is so much heavily indebted to banks on these two projects, they were transferred to AMCON, the government owned debt buyer, to sell to would be buyers.

Now, before the revocation of Pan Ocean’s 40% interest in OML 98, the Seplat/NPDC joint venture had approached Pan Ocean to allow the latter to support the funding of the Amukpe-Escravos pipeline, so that, on completion, the Seplat/NPDC crude could be pumped through the line and the tariff that would be earned by the Pan Ocean/NNPC JV would be part of the repayment of the funding support. The Seplat/NPDC JV has spent over $90Million in support of completing the line.

This piece had been earlier published in the July 2022 edition of the Africa Oil+Gas Report

 


‘My Pipeline is Safer than Yours’: Why NLNG Has No Worries About Vandalism-OPINION

By Ifeanyi Igwebike Mbanefo

The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited found a solution to pipeline vandalism long before the problem assumed epidemic proportions.

My career with the company offers a testimony.

I joined (NLNG) Limited in 1998 as Senior Public Relations and Community Relations Officer. At the time, the company was constructing its first production units — trains one and two. It currently has six trains and constructing the seventh.

It was my job to negotiate (on the ground) the right of way from Obrikom to Bonny, to enable TSKJ lay the pipelines.

The government had acquired the right of way on the map, had signed all the papers and had done all the handshakes in Lagos and Abuja.

But there had to be people on the ground to negotiate with the communities. I was one of them.

It was a 217 kilometre pipeline traversing all the kingdoms in Rivers State — Bonny, Kalabari, Ogba, Ikwerre, Abua, Ekpeye. The line did not pass through Ogoniland because of the agitations of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).

“We made it surveillance and grass cutting contracts awarded to land owners. We did this on two simple logics: they are the owners of the land and know best how to protect it, otherwise it would not have remained in their ancestry since God knows when and as owners they, more than any other parties”

My colleagues and I were responsible for payment of compensation to landowners. These were monies to compensate for cash crops felled along the way. It was a difficult job in every sense of the word.

In that role, I regularly appeared before magistrates in Ahoada and other courts in Rivers State to defend the company from aggrieved villagers. My heart was with villagers because most of they got only ₦5,000, ₦10, 000, ₦20, 000 or ₦30, 000 at most for their cash crops, the result of an enumeration from the consultants. Some desperados manufactured shrines over night to claim payments for their gods.

The Nigerian Land Use Decree of 1978 was a brutal law. It took their ancestral land free of charge. And only paid for cash or economic trees. Observing/supervising and on some cases, enforcing (with Mopol & military) this law left a wound on my conscience and those of some of my colleagues. I watched helplessly as the villagers were being economically raped but helpless in the face of an all-mighty federal government.

Finima Community on Bonny Island is without doubt the most abused community in Nigeria. It is the host of NLNG which acquired, via (the state hydrocarbon company) NNPC 525.63 hectares of land, bulldozed and relocated the community from their ancestral land to new Finima town. Finima is host to a tank farm belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company, a facility adjudged the biggest in Africa at some point during my service. Bonny camp in Lagos was the take off point for Nigerian soldiers who defended that facility and prevented it from falling into the hands of Biafra (in the course of the Nigeran Civil War, 1967-1970). Finima also hosts some ExxonMobil facilities. All these economic jewels sitting on thousands of hectares in Finima; landed property acquired on the cheap.

It is most disheartening that a community where Nigeria exports and realizes over 70 percent of its revenue is still a ghetto. A squalor! I am happy that I threw a punch in defence of the communities when I eventually became the community relations manager.

“Since land makes up part of Nigeria’s 49% shares in NLNG, I often wondered if Finima could not be said to be entitled to some of these shares. But then I don’t have a right of audience, as lawyers would say.”

In 1987, NNPC approached the Chief of Brown House of Finima on Bonny Island, Chief Israel Idamiebi Brown and opened a discussion concerning the acquisition of land for the construction of NLNG. An agreement was reached and documented in a letter of 3rd March 1978 by Mr. A. M. Akpe a manager in NNPC. It included:

  1. That all parcels of land to be acquired from Finima community for the project will be compensated for at reasonable commercial rates.
  2. NNPC will design and construct bungalows/houses for displaced families and residents

However, on 29th of March 1978, (26 days after the agreement) the Federal Government promulgated the Land Used Decree. A law is superior to contractual agreements. Without explaining to the community their intentions to abandon the agreement, the government and NNPC acquired community land. Cmdr. Suleiman Sa’idu, then military administrator of Rivers State in a gazette on November 22, 1979, revoked all rights of occupancy existing in respect of Finima land. And NNPC applied and obtained a certificate of occupancy from Rivers State for the parcel of land measuring 596.5 hectares of land in Finima of which it set aside 525.63 hectares exclusively for NLNG. That title was later perfected by Gov. Rufus Ada George on April 1993.

Since land makes up part of Nigeria’s 49% shares in NLNG, I often wondered if Finima could not be said to be entitled to some of these shares. But then I don’t have a right of audience, as lawyers would say.

To build NLNG, 350 families in Finima were displaced and relocated to new Finima town. Of this number 70 families were not provided with any houses. And most others, inadequately housed. One of the things I am most proud of was building 70 houses for these families in 2016, about 46 years after, when I became community relations manager of NLNG. I also paid compensation to those inadequately housed at an agreed rate of N2Million per room. For these I was declared a persona non grata by the Amanyanabo and Bonny Chiefs Council for making direct payments to the victims. They wanted control of the monies. Hear! Hear!!

Returning to the matter on hand, before NLNG began operations in 1999, my colleagues and I, tapping from our experiences from pipeline construction, restructured NLNG pipeline surveillance and protection contracts. It is normal and still the routine in the oil industry (The Tomopolo pipeline protection contract rocking the NNPC is an example) to award such contracts to big shots in Abuja and other places who use the police to carry out these duties.

In case of NLNG, we made it surveillance and grass cutting contracts awarded to land owners. We did this on two simple logics: they are the owners of the land and know best how to protect it, otherwise it would not have remained in their ancestry since God knows when and as owners they, more than any other parties, were entitled to revenue from it.

The contract guaranteed them of income over the lifespan of the project and pipeline. This simple move proved very radical. Security big hats in police, SSS, and military advised against it. It cut them out. Politicians and community leaders kicked against it. They said they were in charge of security in their villages and should naturally be the contract holders. We stood our ground, despite the intimidation, harassment and sometimes physical assaults.

In the event, there was not a single case of vandalism on NLNG pipeline for over 16 years, except for inside the swamps, bogs and marshes — no man land. And those were reported promptly by land owners who survey the pipelines in canoes daily. No land owner would permit any militant to vandalize a pipeline under his care, because the contract prescribes no payment for any landlord that any portion of pipeline under his care is vandalized. NLNG till date has little or no worries regarding its pipelines whilst NNPC, Shell, Agip, etc sometimes record up to 5,000 breakages. Showing empathy for the voiceless goes a long way! That, I dare say, is the answer to oil theft. Which I consider the work of karma.

Apologies the diversions and detours in this piece. Apologies also for too much background. I wanted to put the matter in perspective. Enough said.

Ifeanyi Igwebike Mbanefo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Champions Court Limited was until recently, Manager Corporate Business Logistics, Nigeria LNG Limited.

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