NIGERIA. Staff development is key for ambitious niche firm
Prince Arthur Eze
‘Develop as an important regional player’
Prince Arthur Eze

Atlas Petroleum International is one of the new breed of small Nigerian indigenous oil companies.
Headed by group chairman Prince Engr. Arthur Eze, the company is one of just a handful of local firms currently producing oil. Mr Eze also owns Oranto, another indigenous player that has secured an exploration licence in Nigeria’s deepwater acreage as well as various overseas assets.
Working alongside technical partners such as TransAtlantic Petroleum of the US and Canada’s Nexen, the company has stabilised production levels on its Ejubele field on block OML 106 at around 3,500 bpd (initial output was 11,000 bpd) and is actively engaged in exploration efforts on other Nigerian blocks.

It has responded to the government’s call for greater indigenous participation in the upstream sector, although Mr Eze says that he wants to see the company grow even “faster and stronger” to assist the national development effort. Naturally, as an indigenous player, the company invests heavily in Nigerian people.
“We employ many Nigerians, as geologists, engineers and other staff,” he says. “We spend huge funds on manpower development because we believe that a well-positioned workforce is the engine of development required for the advancement of business.”
In the longer term, Mr Eze wants Atlas and its sister company, Oranto, to develop into important regional players. In total, the group boasts 10 oil blocks throughout Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea – where it is in partnership with Australia’s Roc Oil – and Côte d’Ivoire, producing around 10,000 bpd.

Chike Okoye
‘A diversified portfolio for better growth’
Chike Okoye

Chike Okoye, Atlas’s managing director, says the company is keen to broaden its coverage further. “We are looking at other business opportunities and we believe that with a diversified portfolio you position yourself for better growth,” he says.
He draws parallels with the Brazilian experience in which state oil firm Petrobras is now deeply involved in international projects, including some in Nigeria and other west African states. Again, training and development of local personnel is a key factor.

“In an environment where Nigerians are fully empowered, the gains will manifest in the entire economy – and indeed rub off on the continent,” he says. “In the long run this will enhance our ability to develop relationships with other countries on the west coast, just like the Brazilians who now traverse the globe in their quest to expand their horizons.”
Mr Okoye says that an important part of the equation will be to continue to forge successful and productive partnerships with highly skilled and solvent foreign oil firms.
“We feel that, through the right partnerships, we can enable our business to grow and so take Atlas to even greater heights,” he says.

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