Dr Layi Fatona, the CEO of Niger Delta Exploration and Production, believes that the company has created an “environment of trust” which has allowed it to operate successfully in the ever-challenging Niger Delta region.
Boasting a proud record of never having suffered a day’s interruption to production since launching in October 2005, Niger Delta is hoping to follow in the footsteps of compatriot company Seplat Petroleum Development Company and list on the London Stock Exchange.
Niger Delta Exploration & Production Plc (NDEP) is a publicly owned, integrated Independent oil and gas focused Investment Company. It was established as an investment vehicle for Nigerians to participate in the country’s foremost income generator, the oil and gas sector.
Fatona has brought a wealth of oil and gas knowledge to NDEP. A trained petroleum geologist with more than 40 years’ experience in the petroleum industry, he is now considered a leading authority on the geology of the Niger Delta oil and gas region and is a past president and a Fellow of the Nigerian Association of Explorationists.
In an exclusive interview with the world Oil Council, Fatona said Seplat’s successful listing in London in April last year had certainly been watched closely by Niger Delta.
“We are seriously looking at it [listing]. I mean Seplat has given Nigeria a little bit of space. We believe that a logical place for us to be in is to look at a second alternative away from Nigeria where there are deep pockets for capital.
“If I was privileged to be standing in front of investors [for the listing], I would tell say, ‘Look at us, we can take your money, protect it, multiply it and you can actually trust us as an oil company to do the right thing all the time.”
Part of realising this ambition, he, said, was emphasising trust in the development of the business.
“In the Niger Delta province that is synonymous with chaos, disruptions, pipeline vandalism … we are lucky to not have had such community-induced problems for so many years, and one has to ask oneself why. I think we have created an environment of trust between ourselves as a company, which is not always the trademark of oil companies and the host communities in which they operate,” he said.
Fatona added that while the rest of the industry was deeply concerned about lower oil prices, “for us it doesn’t really bother us because we are in a very, very unusual situation”.
“We have diversified how we do our business. I mean here we are as a small company; we produce oil, we process the oil, we take a little bit of production into our mineral refinery, we produce one product which is diesel, we don’t flair gas, and we take our gas and process it into higher value liquids.
“We treat that gas and we also sell the gas. So for us as a small Nigerian company, the diversity of our income string, not just from crude oil but also from refined oil products and refined gas products, gives us a little bit of stability.”
Last year, the company unveiled plans to raise $450-million to acquire and develop crude fields in the country.
FBN Capital Plc and Chapel Hill Denham were appointed fundraisers for the accruement of funds, and the expansion plans also included South Sudan and Zambia.
In addition, in 2014 Niger Delta also acquired a 100% stake and operatorship of the Omerelu Farm Out Area from the NNPC/Chevron (JV) with the NDPR granting the company an equitable interest in the reservoir. One vertical exploration well was drilled in 1975 by Chevron with a sequence of five vertically stacked reservoirs and target depth of 9 000 feet.
The company’s field development plan is targeting to drill a further two wells over and above the existing discovery made by Chevron, as well as plans to build a 14km pipeline to Ogbele where it can be routed onto existing pipelines. First oil is expected in 2016, achieving peak flow rates of between 5 000 and 10 000bpd in 2017.
Fatona alluded to Niger Delta’s “adaptability” as a contributing factor to faring well in a difficult economic environment.
“As a country we are 60 million people. Power barely really exists, and this is something we don’t like to talk about publicly, but when you see such huge opportunities in front of you, you just can’t help but be creative and as a company. These last nine years we have always lived on the treasure of creativity.
“I mean we have tried to look at things that create value, enhance our value. Things that we can do differently without any notice and doing them properly too. When we got our refinery licence it seemed as though this was not possible in Nigeria but today we are the only non-government owned mineral refinery and I’m very proud. Our refinery works every day of the year.”
Source: Niger Delta Exploration and Production