The petroleum industry in Nigeria in the largest industry in the country and the main GDP generator in the continent’s most populous nation. Since the British discovered oil in the Niger Delta in the late 1950s, the oil industry has been crucial to Nigeria’s development. Marred by political and economic strife in the past, international attention in the 1990s saw a reform of the sector which has produced some of Africa’s richest men. Tom Jackson profiles ten of them below.
Theophilus Danjuma (South Atlantic Petroleum)
Danjuma, 72, has a net worth of $600 million made through the 2006 sale for $1.7 billion of an oil block he was given by the regime of former Nigerian President Sani Abacha to a Chinese consortium. A former defence minister, Danjuma is chairman of oil exploration firm South Atlantic Petroleum. He is also the country’s biggest philanthropist, having endowed his charity, the TY Danjuma Foundation, with $100 million. He also advises President Goodluck Jonathan on state matters.
Prince Arthur Eze (Oranto Petroleum)
Prince Arthur Eze is the Chairman and CEO of Atlas Oranto Petroleum International Limited, as well as holding positions on various other boards in different sectors across Nigeria. His company has secured significant upstream positions in frontier plays in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo, Ivory Coast, Chad, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. He is also a notable philanthropist.
His company has various technical partners, ranging from Roc Oil, Pioneer Natural Resources of the USA, Canoxy, Transworld of the USA, LukOil of Russia, Tetra, Noble, Kosmos Energy of the USA, Petronas of Malaysia, DNO of Norway, TransAtlantic Petroleum of the USA and Canada’s Nexen. He has been active behind the scenes on the political stage since the early 90’s.
Mike Adenuga (Conoil Producing)
The 59-year-old Mike Adenuga has a reputation as a reclusive tycoon, but his company Conoil Producing was the first Nigerian company to strike oil in commercial quantities in the early 1990s. It is now the country’s largest oil exploration firm, and Adenuga has a net worth of $4.3 billion. His other business interests include Globacom, the country’s second largest mobile telecom operator. Another tycoon to have hit big through links with a Nigerian president, in this case, Ibrahim Babangida, he made his first million at the age of 26 selling lace and distributing soft drinks.
Tonye Cole (Sahara Energy)
Cole is the Managing Director of Sahara Energy Resource Limited, which he co-founded in 1996 with his friends Tope Shonubi and Ade Odunsi. Sahara Energy started out as an oil and gas company whose core business at the time was the trading of excess fuel oil from the Port Harcourt and Warri refineries. It later moved away from being a middleman to become an established trading house diversifying into storage depots and vessel ownership as well as building depots in Lagos, Onne and Abuja with a combined capacity of 55,000 metric tonnes and a fleet of five vessels moving products across West Africa. Today, Sahara Energy is a major employer of labour with staff strength of just over 300 people.
Femi Otedola (African Petroleum/Zenon)
CEO of African Petroleum Plc (now Forte Oil Plc), Otedola appeared as one of only two Nigerians (the other was Aliko Dangote) to appear on the 2009 Forbes list of 793 dollar billionaires in the world, worth over $1.2 billion. Though his fortunes have slightly declined since, he remains a hugely rich man with much influence in the Nigerian oil sector.
He is also the owner of multi-billionnaira indigenous oil giant Zenon. Zenon, which is directly run by Otedola, is the dominant force in the diesel business among oil marketing concerns. It supplies diesel to power the generating sets of most Nigerian industries and nearly all the major manufacturing firms in the country. These include Dangote Group, Cadbury, Coca Cola, Nigerian Breweries, MTN, Unilever, Nestle, Guinness and others.
Tunde Folawiyo (Folawiyo Oil And Gas)
Folawiyo serves as the Managing Director of Yinka Folawiyo Power, and holds directorships with various other firms across all sectors. He lives his life away from the limelight, but is known to live in extreme luxury. He holds degrees from the London School of Economics and University College London.
Mohammed Indimi (Oriental Energy Resources)
A close ally of prominent figures in the Nigerian military, Indimi founded and now chairs Oriental Energy Resources, an offshore oil exploration and production company. It currently has three offshore oil and gas products, with daily production of 35,000 barrels. After over twenty years in the sector Indimi has established himself at the 30th richest man in Africa, with a notable international presence.
Ifeanyi Ubah (Capital Oil)
A tycoon who is probably best known for taking out adverts on the front pages of major newspapers to herald the celebration of his 40th birthday, Ubah’s company, Capital Oil, is said to have the biggest and most modern depot in Nigeria. With 28 loading bays, Capital is the only indigenous downstream player capable of pumping out 55 million litres of petroleum products each day.
ABC Orjiakor (Seplat Petroleum)
A trained surgeon, Orjiakor has now worked in the oil and gas sector for over 25 years. At Seplat he spears new business development and works on strategic stakeholder relationships. He has his own philanthropic foundation, and had links with former Nigerian military president Ibrahim Babangida.
Phillip Ihenacho (Seven Energy)
Executive Chairman of Seven Energy, Ihenacho is also the co-founder of investment firm Amaya Capital Partners. A graduate of Harvard and Yale, he is a believer that local companies should be at the forefront of Nigerian oil exploration.