How North cornered Nigeria’s oil blocs • Revealed: 80% of ownership of the nation’s oil reserves is in the hands of some influential northerners

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How North cornered Nigeria’s oil blocs • Revealed: 80% of ownership of the nation’s oil reserves is in the hands of some influential northerners • North, South-South in battle royale over oil

Tension over the allocation of Nigeria’s oil wealth among the states of the federation is assuming an interesting dimension with key figures in the South-South taking on the North over its recent call for a fiscal redress. The North, through the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) appears set its goal of changing the revenue allocation formular in its favour while the South-South described such calls as idle and insulting.One of the Niger Delta leaders even said the North is ungrateful to the South.


ACF’s spokesman, Anthony Sani spoke with The Friday Edition declaring that the South cannot describe the north lasy because there is no diligence involved in having crude oil under ones soil.

Beneath the cross fire between the North and the South is the issue of who has juicy oil blocs in his kitty. The Friday Edition serves available details of owners of the multi billion naira oil blocs which insiders described as just a tip of the iceberg.

Unknown to many, more than eighty percent of ownership of the nation’s oil reserves is in the hands of some influential northerners who acquired marginal fields, Oil Mining Licenses (OML) and Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPL).

Curiously, such acquisitions were under the different military regimes of Generals Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), the late Sani Abacha as well as Nigeria’s last military leader, Abdusalami Abubakar.

This discovery is coming on the heels of the brickbat between the South-South and the North over the propriety or otherwise of the review of the revenue sharing formula which the later alleged was unduly advantageous to the former.

Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger state, had, penultimate week, called for equality in the sharing of oil revenue accruing to the oil-producing states, saying it posed a big disadvantage to those without oil.

The position of the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum had barely settled when Governors Rotimi Amaechi(Rivers), Emmanuel Uduaghan(Delta), Olusegun Mimiko(Ondo), Theodore Orji(Abia) and federal lawmakers from oil-producing states expressed their dismay at the outburst.

The debate had continued to take a new dimension in the last one week.

But Nigerian Tribune’s investigations showed that most of the oil and gas prospects had long been conceded to a particular section of the country.

According to documents exclusively obtained by the Nigerian Tribune, most of those to whom the nation’s juicy oil reserves have been conceded are individually richer than some African oil-producers such as Ghana and Sudan.

For instance, Cavendish Petroleum, the operators of OML 110 – with good yielding OBE field was awarded to Alhaji Mai Deribe – the Borno patriarch, by General Sani Abacha on the 8th of July, 1996.

OML 110 has a proven oil reserve in excess of 500 million barrels (more than the entire 300milliom barrels reserve of Sudan) with capacity to produce about 120,000 barrels of crude oil daily from its OBE 4 and OBE 5 wells.

At current production levels, the Mai Deribes net an average of N4billion monthly in crude oil sales (using oil price estimates of $100 p/b). Deribe, even in death is the richest man in the history of Borno state today.

Another major partaker in the oil and gas sector is Mallam (Prince) Sanusi Lamido, a cousin of the Central Bank Governor, who is a key shareholder and director in Seplat/Platform Petroleum, operators of the Asuokpu/Umutu Marginal Field with a capacity of 300,000 barrels monthly and 30mmfcsd gas plant capable of feeding 100MT of LPG.

But the oldest of all northern-backed oil and gas concerns is South Atlantic Petroleum Limited (SAPETRO). South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO) is a Nigerian Oil Exploration and Production Company that was established in 1995 by General T. Y. Danjuma, who is also the Chairman of ENI Nigeria Limited. General Sani Abacha awarded the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 246 to SAPETRO in February 1998.

The block covers a total area of 2,590km2 (1,000 sq. miles). SAPETRO partnered with Total Upstream Nigeria Ltd (TUPNI) and Brasoil Oil Services Company Nigeria Ltd to start prospecting on OPL246.

Akpo, a condensate field was discovered in April 2000 with the drilling of the first exploration well (Akpo 1) on the block. Other discoveries made on OPL 246 include the Egina Main, Egina South, Preowei and Kuro (Kuro was suspended as a dry gas/minor oil discovery).

But in June 2006, SAPETRO divested part of its contractor rights and obligations to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for $1 billion (N160bn). Akpo exports about 230,000 barrels of condensate daily.

Condensate export is not regulated by OPEC, so SAPETRO/TOTAL exports as much as possible each day. Egina exports about 75,000 barrels of oil daily.

Akpo and Egina therefore, export over 300,000 barrels of oil/condensate daily (three times what Ghana currently exports).

Out of this volume, SAPETRO gets 25 per cent which, however, excludes the gas component that is about 2.5 trillion cubic feet.

Operators of OML 112 and OML 117, AMNI International Petroleum and Development Company, is owned by Alhaji (Colonel) Sani Bello from Kontagora, Niger State. In the production-sharing contract, AMNI gets 60 per cent for owning the oil block and Total gets 40 per cent for providing technical advice.

Although OML 112 was awarded on 12 February, 1998 and OML 117 on 4 August, 1999, all by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar whose eldest daughter is married to Bello’s son, Abu, operations did not start on both blocks until 26 February, 2006.

Both licenses are due to expire on 11 February, 2018 and 5 August, 2019 respectively. AMNI produces twice as much as Cavendish Petroleum.

Nonetheless, a Former Petroleum minister, (names withheld), another Fulani multi-millionaire with fronted controlling holdings in Afren, manages AMNI oil blocks and with very key interest in the NNPC/Vitol trading deal.

Vitol is a London based oil trading company. Vitol, which lifts 350,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Nigeria is owned by the former minister.

The Okoro and Setu fields in OML 112 with about 50 million barrels in reserve, operated by Afren Energy, currently rake in below 20,000 barrels per day in exports.

Similarly, there is Oriental Energy Resources Limited, a company owned by Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, a close friend of General Ibrahim Babangida. Both, apart from being from Niger state, are in-laws (IBB’s first son, Mohammed is married to Yakolo, Indimi’s daughter). Yakolo is a director in Oriental.

Oriental Energy Resources Limited runs three oil blocks: OML 115, the Okwok field and the Ebok field. OML 115 and Okwo are OML PSC, while Ebok is an OML JV. All of them are crown offshore oil blocks.

OML 115 on its own is 228 sq Km with Oriental Energy Resources Limited controlling 60 per cent while Equity Energy Resources, has 40 per cent.

On Okwok, Addax has 40% and on the Ebok field, Oriental Energy Resources has 100%.

Alhaji Aminu Dantata’s Express Petroleum and Gas Limited floated for the purpose of winning oil block(s) on November 1, 1995, got General Abacha’s approval to operate OML 108. CAMAC Houston, a company owned by Kase Lawal bought 2.5% of Express Petroleum’s 60% holdings. The other 40% on OML 108 is owned by Sheba E&P Limited.

As the operator of OML 108, Shebah Exploration And Production Limited (SEPCOL) has an office in Lagos but the headquarters is in Minna. SEPCOL operates the Ukpokiti offshore field in Shallow water Nigeria, which was acquired from ConocoPhillips in May 2004.

The Alhaji Saleh Mohammed Jambo-owned NorthEast Petroleum Limited, registered as NorEast Petroleum, is the holder of OPL215 license, covering an area of 2,564 square kilometres in water depths between 200 to 1600 metres.

NorEast, which is the parent company of Rayflosh Petroleum, was awarded the blocks OPLs 276 & 283 closing thereupon, a Joint Venture Agreement with Centrica Resources Nigeria Limited and CCC Oil and Gas.

The license was awarded to him by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida in 1991 and then renewed in 2004 by former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It was learnt that, so far $50Million has been spent on the very promising Okpoi-1 and Egere -1 exploratory well.

Intels, owned by the three families of Yar’Adua , Ado Bayero and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku is another major northern concern in the oil and gas sector. The Oil and Gas Free Zone and Oil Services Centres, as well as Support Bases operated from government-owned facilities, are leased to Intels under long-term agreements.

Intels thus, runs a ‘private port’, as a counter venture to the Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt ports. At the Port Harcourt’s facility of the company for instance, there are over one hundred major companies.

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