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Shell Men Return To Divested Assets

The past three Chief Executives of Shell Companies in Nigeria in succession have all returned to build indigenous E&P companies on the foundation laid by assets divested by their former employer

Three indigenous Chief Executives that retired from three key affiliates of Shell in Nigeria have successfully returned to the field to head operation of assets divested by the Anglo-Dutch super major. The three technocrats include Mr. Chima Ibeneche who was the Managing Director of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) Nigeria Limited who pioneered development of deepwater field in Nigeria with the successful streaming of the Bonga field. Another is Mr. Chike Onyejekwe who succeeded Mr. Ibeneche as Managing Director of SNEPCO and managed Shell deepwater and other non-JV offshore portfolios for Shell in the country.

Of course, Mr. Mutiu Sumonu is the second indigenous Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Limited and Country Chair of Shell companies in Nigeria (SCiN) under whose tenure that Shell ran the divestment programme smoothly and successfully.

Mr. Ibeneche who hold an impressive resume as an invisible high achieving CEO in the petroleum industry is appointed the CEO of Eroton, one of the consortium firms floated for the purpose of acquiring and operating assets bought off Shell and partners.

The appointment comes after four years after he retired as CEO of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG), and several years after he held sway at SNEPCO. Eroton is the creation of a three firm consortium consisting of Nigerian companies Midwestern Oil and Gas Limited and Suntrust Oil and Gas Limited as well as the Canadian junior Mart Resources Limited. In this position he oversees the re-development of the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 18, an oil and gas producer purchased from Shell, TOTAL and ENI in late 2014 and approved by the Minister of Petroleum in March 2015.

OML 18 production averaged 21,000 barrels per day from six fields in 2012. Liquid export from the acreage is evacuated through the Nembe Creek Trunk Line to the Bonny Crude Oil Terminal. Eroton holds 45% operatorship of the asset, with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) holding the remaining 55%.

OML 18 is the second most prospective of the four acreages divested of by Shell and partners in 2014. Its 1.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (Bboe) are found in eight fields, the largest being Cawthorne Channel, Buguma Creek and Alakiri, according to Shell estimates, according to Africa Oil and Gas Reports. The hydrocarbon fields in the acreage could deliver as much as 80,000BOPD and 250MMscf/d, with focused, aggressive work programme, Shell had stated during the divestment period. With this appointment at Eroton, Mr. Chima Ibeneche becomes the third former CEO of a Shell Company in Nigeria to be involved in running a new Nigerian company which has just purchased a Shell operated asset from Shell.

His successor as MD at SNEPCO, Mr. Chike Onyejekwe, who, until May 2014, was the Managing Director of SNEPCO, the deep-water exploration subsidiary of Shell in Nigeria; had earlier been appointed Chief Executive at AITEO, another Nigerian E&P independent operating an asset divested by Shell. In that position, he will lead the re-development of the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29, a prolific oil and gas asset purchased from Shell, TOTAL and ENI in October 2014 by a consortium led by AITEO. The AITEO consortium holds 45% operatorship of the asset, with NPDC holding the remaining 55%. OML 29 holds remaining reserves of 2.2 Billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), according to Shell estimates.

The hydrocarbon fields in the acreage could deliver as much as 160,000 barrels of oil per day and 300 million standard cubic feet (Mscf/d), with focused, aggressive work programme. Onyejekwe is a geologist by training, and has worked for Shell for 36 years, beginning his career as trainee production geologist after graduating from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1978. Another Shell Chief Executive to take a job in running an asset divested by the company of Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, who has been appointed Executive Consultant for the Pan Ocean group, reporting to the board. He is not working full time for the company, but he will devote considerable time, according to Africa Oil and Gas Reports.

Newcross E&P, a subsidiary of Pan Ocean Group, purchased the 45 percent stake held by Shell, Total and Eni in Oil Mining Leases (OML) 24 in the eastern Niger Delta in 2014 for $900 Million and was designated operator of the asset. OML 24 produced 24,000BOPD on average in February 2015. Newcross Petroleum Limited has new discoveries in OPL 283/C and is working to convert the licence to an OML. Pan Ocean operates the 9,000BOPD OML 98 in the North Central Niger Delta basin. It is also developing the Obi Anyima field in OPL 274, for which it is processing an Oil Mining Licence.

As Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, and chair of all of Shell Companies in the country, Sunmonu superintended four rounds of sale of Shell operated onshore assets, and one sale of Shell operated shallow water assets, including OMLs 4, 38 & 41 to Seplat (2010), OML 26 to First Hydrocarbon Nigeria (2011) and OMLs 30, 34 & 42 to Shoreline Resources, NDWestern and Neconde respectively (2012), OMLs 18, 24& 29 to Eroton, Newcross and Aiteo respectively (2014). The sale of OMLs 71&72 went in favour of First E&P (2014).

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