Sylva, Kyari, Wabote hail SEPLAT as pride of indigenous operators

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….as Roger Brown resumes as new CEO

By Tunde Shorunke

The Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva; the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari; and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote, have commended Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc for its sterling leadership as the industry’s poster child and breathtaking impacts on the growth of the country’s oil and gas development in the past decade. 

Speaking at the maiden edition of SEPLAT Energy Summit held virtually on Thursday, the trio took turns to celebrate what they described as SEPLAT’s pacesetting role in the development of the country’s oil and gas development in the past decade. Listed on both Nigerian and London stock exchanges, SEPLAT is Nigerian leading independent indigenous Nigerian energy company.

Sylva, who opened the summit themed ‘Business Sustainability and Strategic Leadership in Africa’ recalled the emergence of SEPLAT 10 years ago and declared that the company has demonstrated the capacity to drive the innovation and expertise required for local content development.  

He said that SEPLAT’s investment in gas development aligns with the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP), adding that the government has declared 2020 as “the year of gas.” He stated that the country has sufficient gas reserves to meet its energy need if the efficient utilisation and monetisation template of companies like Seplat is adopted by others.      

“On January 16, we inaugurated an Inter-agency Committee saddled with the responsibility of coordinating our concerted efforts to ensure the penetration of domestic utilisation of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), encourage auto LPG, compressed natural gas and LPG for the domestic market. This will drastically reduce the massive outflow of the nation’s foreign exchange currently being expended in the importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS),” the minister said.

Kyari, who lamented that Nigeria is a net importer of petroleum products, announced that SEPLAT is collaborating with NNPC “to create a splitter plant in short term” to address the refining challenge facing the country. 

“There are other private initiatives. As we know, there are several licenses granted by the Federal Government for people to construct refineries, but they can’t do this because of the clear issue around the market structure. But thankfully, we have transited out of the regulated petroleum market into a deregulated market,” said the NNPC boss.

Roger Brown, the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc resumed on August 1, 2020.

Brown is expected to lead SEPLAT into the next phase of the company’s growth aspirations following the retirement of  the founding CEO Austin Avuru on July 31, 2020 after 10 years. 

Brown joined SEPLAT in 2013 as the CFO and played a key role in the successful dual listing of the Company in 2014 on both the London and Nigerian Stock Exchanges. Similarly, since joining SEPLAT, he has played significant roles in various asset acquisitions by the Company as well as implementing the company’s financial business model.

Brown played critical roles in the company’s successful landmark deals, Initial Public Offering (IPO) and financial structure of debt and acquisitions, as well as increased returns to shareholders. He is very familiar with the local and global business environments and institutions. As the new CEO, he is expected to work towards reinforcing the company’s leading position in the Energy sector.

Brown brings to the CEO role, an extensive knowledge of the Company in his over 6 years as the CFO and a member of the Board. He has strong financial, commercial and Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) experience as well as proven people skills which will be an asset as the Company embarks on the next phase of its growth. One area of priority for SEPLAT is to ensure that liquidity and cash flow of the company remains strong and that the company’s balance sheet maintains its resilience and robustness.

Prior to joining SEPLAT, Brown was an advisor to the Company since 2010 while he was the Managing Director and head of EMEA Oil and Gas at Standard Bank Group. During his time at the bank, he was instrumental in providing advice and deploying capital across the African continent in the Oil & Gas, Power & Infrastructure and the renewable energy sectors.

SEPLAT’s new CEO is a qualified Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. The product of Belfast Royal Academy also holds MSc in Finance from University of Ulster; BSc (Hons) in Finance from University of Dundee. Brown joined Seplat and its board in July 2013, having previously been an advisor to the company since 2010, Roger set up the London office for the company prior to listing on the Nigerian and London Stock Exchanges (Main Board).

During his time at the company he steered the business through extremely challenging times during low oil prices and an 18-month period when the business was not producing oil due to a shutdown of its main oil pipeline.

He also put in place a total of $1.75billion of financing which included an inaugural $350million Eurobond as well as bringing in a number of top tier banks into the syndicate.

SEPLAT in line with its forward looking plans positions itself for a next phase growth ambition which would see the expansion of its footprint in terms of energy business activities, pursue offshore assets as well as opportunity driven entry into different geographies.

SEPLAT corporate transition which saw Brown take over as CEO would require a different kind of organizational structure, people skills set and mentality to competitively position well in the expanded space.

In view of this development, SEPLAT will no doubt be reviewing its current organisational and systems structure. Already, the Board of Directors of SEPLAT appointed Emeka Onwuka as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Executive Director of the Company. He joined the Seplat Board on August 1, 2020.

The next stage which Brown leads as CEO requires a wide global business/transaction view requiring deep financial and capital markets knowledge and experience.