Billionaire and oil tycoon Bryant Orjiako, owner of Seplat Energy

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has finally approved the proposed acquisition of ExxonMobil’s oil and gas assets in Nigeria by Seplat Energy, a leading energy group founded by Nigerian magnate Ambrosie Bryant Orjiako.

“In his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, and in consonance with the country’s drive for foreign direct investment in the energy sector, Muhammadu Buhari has consented to the acquisition of the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited by Seplat Energy Offshore Limited,” the government said in a press statement.

The approval is consistent with the government’s plans to strengthen foreign direct investment in the energy sector. It comes not long after the government rejected the $1.58-billion deal on May 19, citing overriding national interests as one reason for the decision.

Exxon Mobil and Seplat are expected to carry out the operations of the unit’s oil-mining licenses to support Nigeria’s OPEC quota in the short term and to accelerate gas resource development and monetization to help bolster the Nigerian economy, according to the share sales agreement.

Seplat Energy is an independent oil and gas company with a strategic focus on Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. Ambrosie Bryant Orjiako and Austin Avuru, who founded the company in 2009, are credited with turning it into the largest listed energy group on the Nigerian Exchange.

ExxonMobil’s offshore shallow water business in Nigeria includes a well-established, high-quality operation able to produce 95,000 barrels of oil per day. Its acquisition by Seplat Energy will enhance the group’s ability to drive growth, profitability, and overall shareholder prosperity.

Seplat’s profit increased by 41 percent in the first half of 2022, from $56.57 million in the first half of 2021 to $79.8 million, as the company continues to leverage rising energy prices to build wealth for shareholders, following an $85.3-million loss in 2020.

Following the deal, Seplat’s oil output will increase by 186 percent, from 51,000 barrels per day to 146,000 barrels per day, while liquid and gas reserves will increase by 170 percent and 14 percent, respectively, to 650 million barrels and 1,712 billion standard cubic feet of gas.

Meanwhile, the Upstream regulator, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of Seplat’s purchase of ExxonMobil’s asset.

A statement repudiating the ministerial approval exercised by President Buhari, came a few hours after presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, had announced in a statement that President Buhari had approved the sale of ExxonMobil asset to Seplat Energy, an indigenous oil company.

NUPRC in a statement signed by its chief executive, Gbenga Komolafe, contradicted the earlier statement by the Presidency announcing President Buhari’s approval of Seplat Energy’s acquisition of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation.

The Commission said on Monday night that the matter was a regulatory one and nothing had changed after it had earlier notified ExxonMobil the transaction had been declined.

“The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) affirms that status quo remains in respect of ExxonMobil/Seplat Energy share acquisition.

Responding to media enquiries on latest development about the said transaction, the Chief Executive of the NUPRC clarified that the Commission in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 is the sole regulator in dealing with such matters in the Nigerian upstream sector.

“As it were, the issue at stake is purely a regulatory matter and the Commission had earlier communicated the decline of Ministerial assent to ExxonMobil in this regard. As such the Commission further affirms that the status quo remains,” Komolafe stated.

Here’s all you need to know about the Co-Founder & Chairman, Seplat Petroleum Development Company PLC

ABC Orjiako is the Chairman and co-founder of SEPLAT, a leading Nigerian independent oil and gas company listed on the London and Nigerian stock exchanges with a strategic focus in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.

After obtaining an M.B.B.Ch. degree in 1985 from the College of Medical Sciences, University of Calabar, Nigeria, he trained as a General Surgeon at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos.

He later sub-specialised in orthopaedic and trauma surgery and became a fellow of the West African College of Surgeons in 1996. In 2006, he completed the OPM program of the Harvard Business School.

He established and managed various companies in the upstream, downstream and service sectors of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. These include Abbeycourt Trading Company Limited, Abbeycourt Energy Services Limited, Zebbra Energy Limited and Shebah Exploration and Production Company Limited. He also has other business interests in construction, real estate development, pharmaceuticals and shipping. He went into full-time business in 1996 after eleven years of active medical practice.

In 2009, his company Shebah Exploration and Production Company and Platform Petroleum Limited co-founded SEPLAT. Since inception, he has remained the Chairman spearheading new business development and providing leadership on strategy and stakeholder relationships. Under his leadership, the company has become a highly reputable Nigerian Independent recording several milestones comprising successfully closing landmark acquisitions, growing the company’s oil and gas production exponentially and becoming a well-run company with strong and transparent governance.

He has steered the company, in the space of five years, to steadily emerge a global brand while attaining its remarkable growth aspirations. Under his watch, the company pioneered dual listing of its shares on the Nigerian and London stock exchanges in 2014. In recognition of the company’s achievements, SEPLAT recently won the Best Africa listing 2014 award by Africa Investors (Ai), “Mid-Cap Company of The Year 2014” award by the Oil and Gas Council and was named a “Global Growth Company 2014” by the World Economic Forum in 2014.

Dr. ABC Orjiako is on the board of companies in various sectors; he is the chairman of Neimeth Pharmaceutical International plc, which is listed on the NSE; a director of MPI, which is listed on NYSE Euronext Paris and a director of Leadway Assurance Company Limited. By invitation of the London Stock Exchange, he became a founding member of the London Stock Exchange Group’s Africa Advisory Group (“LAAG”), a select group working towards generating and channeling ideas and problem solve towards the issues affecting the African continent from a commercial and social perspective.  

Consolidating his firm commitment to philanthropy, he founded the Daniel Orjiako Memorial Foundation (‘‘DOMF’’) in 1996 in honour of his late father, Chief Daniel O. Orjiako. Since inception, the DOMF has executed numerous programmes in rural Nigerian communities in education, healthcare services and economic empowerment through agriculture aimed at providing welfare and breaking the poverty cycle.

In recognition of his services to humanity, Pope John Paul II in 2003 bestowed on him a Knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (KSGG).

He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his service to humanity and his entrepreneurial achievements. Some of these notable awards include the Distinguished Alumnus Award and Doctor of Sciences (D.Sc. Honoris Causa) by the University of Calabar, Nigeria in 2001; Platinum Award of the West African College of Surgeons in 2006;  National Honours as an Officer of the Federal Republic (“OFR”), conferred on him by the President of Nigeria in 2012; the coveted Zik (Nnamdi Azikiwe) Prize in the Professional Leadership category by the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC) and African Business Executive of the Year 2014, by the Oil and Gas Council.

Dr. ABC Orjiako was born and raised in Nigeria. He is happily married with four children.

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