As if any more was needed, this week have another story to evidence the appetite for indigenous Nigerian oil firms to flex their muscles outside their own borders.
Following the lead set by Aiteo Group's internationalist aims earlier this year, Oranto Petroleum has announced that it is set to sign a petroleum exploration licence and oil production sharing agreements with the Government of Uganda.
Oranto has been quietly gaining momentum at the fringes of the Nigerian energy sector for the past several months, but is yet to make it on to the big stage. Unlike rivals Aiteo, who are recent mainstays of the indigenous oil market and have already been given government contracts, the Nigerian Energy Ministry pulled an agreement with Oranto in June citing some due diligence concerns. I suppose there really is a first time for everything!
Perhaps this latest move by Oranto will be enough to get them into the good books of State House and firmly welcomed into the fold of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Certainly the Uganda deal sounds very interesting and precisely the sort of ambitious move that Nigerian companies need to be making. The agreement, set to be signed next week, concerns the Ngassa area which covers an impressive 410 square kilometres near Lake Albert in the Hoima district. And it is not bad news for the Ugandan government either, as the deal would likely place a signature bonus of over $300,000 into the national petroleum fund.
Such entrepreneurship will surely see Oranto's value rise in the eyes of the Nigerian government, though with the 21 oil and gas licences Oranto already holds across jurisdictions including Namibia, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Gambia, Sudan, Benin, Ghana, and Nigeria, you'd be forgiven for thinking they might have already earned it.
Like Aiteo Group, Oranto also have the visionary Chairman to go with the package. Aiteo's Benedict Peters has been guiding the company with metronomic reliability of late, leadership which has seen the company go from strength to strength. He also appointed an international director earlier in the year, the clearest sign yet that Aiteo intends to take its model overseas. For their part, Oranto has their own figurehead in the form of Arthur Eze, a Nigerian prince also known for his shrewd business acumen.
Unlike Benedict Peters' vision for keeping Aiteo Group more self-contained, Eze tends to acquire acreages with significant value before farming out portions of those oil blocks to international oil companies for higher amounts when the values of those blocks increase. It's a cheeky reversal of the way the oil sector has worked in Nigeria for time immemorial, but fortune favours the brave!