The Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Ainojie Alex Irune and General Manager, Commercial, Akinbambo Ibidapo-Obe, of Oando Energy Resources (OER), the upstream subsidiary of Oando PLC recently paid a courtesy visit to the Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe (STP), Jorge Bom Jesus, and the Minister of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment, Osvaldo Abreu.
Oando has been operating in STP since 2005 through its subsidiary Equator Exploration Limited and has built mutually profitable cooperation over the last 14 years. At the meeting, Dr Irune extended gratitude to Prime Minister Jorge Bom Jesus for the opportunity to discuss further cooperation between STP and Oando as well as exchange views on future development prospects.
During the meeting, Dr Irune reaffirmed Oando’s commitment to support STP in building a sustainable economy through successful exploration and drilling projects, knowledge transfer and social impact investments.
The Prime Minister commended Oando, specifically on their social impact projects including the donation of school buses and ambulances, the building of schools, awarding scholarships to tertiary students in the University of Accounting, Administration and Information Technology, Sao Tome City, construction of road networks and the funding of training for local entrepreneurs amongst others. He said:
“I recall vividly your company logo on school buses around the city. I worked on some of the projects then as Minister of Education. I thank Oando for being a good corporate citizen to STP.”
Oando’s projects in Sao Tome and Principe are in line with the company’s commitment to establish a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the ultimate goal of making the STP economy more robust and in turn, improve the lives of its citizens. The successful relationship between the country and company reinforces PPP as one of the most viable instruments in moving the continent forward. What’s more, Oando’s commitment to PPP is evident not only in its operations in STP but also in Nigeria.
Dr Irune emphasized the need for African countries to diversify their economies in order to have a more sustainable economy. He said:
“Nigeria is a mono-product economy and this hasn’t been advantageous to the economy. Hence our actions to date in supporting STP as we also do in Nigeria, through a diverse range of commercial and community activities, to boost other areas of the economy.”
The amiable partnership between Oando and STP serves as an exemplary model of PPPs seamlessly working to serve the public’s interests by spurring capacity-building efforts locally, creating a sound environment for the vital build-up of infrastructure and supporting the country in building a sustainable local content model.
Referring to Oando’s social impact projects in STP, specifically the donation of ambulances Dr Irune said, “You can educate people but if they are not healthy, they can’t meaningfully contribute to the economy.” He further commented on one of the reasons the company is invested in funding and supporting education across Africa. He said:
“In Nigeria, approximately 60% of our population is below the age of 35. It is, therefore, crucial to invest meaningfully to this sector of the population through good education. The future is digital, but if we fail to prepare and are therefore unready, we as Africans will experience another wave of colonization. The onus is on us as Africans to continually work together to develop solutions to our unique challenges.”
The Minister of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment, Osvaldo Abreu commended Oando on its efforts in the country to date saying “Small things make big difference.” He further requested for more support in the area of the environment and Oando increasing its efforts in Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Blocks 5 and 12 to hit first oil in the very near future.
Speaking on the prospects of oil in the country, the Prime Minister said: ‘The oil sector is still our hope and our desire is that we can start to see and reap the benefits in the near future.”
Oando’s operations in STP began in 2005 through its subsidiary Equator Exploration Limited. In a joint venture with Petroleum Geo-Services ASA (ÔPGSÕ), Equator partly funded the acquisition in 2001 and 2005 of 10,000 kilometres of 2D seismic data within the Exclusive Economic Zone (ÔEEZÕ) of STP. In return for the risk taken in investing in the seismic acquisition programme, the joint venture gained the right to acquire a 100% interest in two blocks of its choice – EEZ Blocks 5 and 12. Subsequently, Equator bought out ÔPGSÕ to gain rights wholly for itself for Blocks 5 and 12.
The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for Block 5 was signed with the National Petroleum Agency on 18 April 2012 triggering the payment of a signature bonus of US$ 2 million, the provision of a performance guarantee for US$ 5.2 million and commitment to a four-year work programme of seismic acquisition and studies. From 2005 to date, Oando’s community development activities in STP have been embedded in its PSC agreement with the country. As a country virgin to the oil and gas sector, Oando is actively working to ensure STP gets it right the first time by applying the lessons learnt from being a leading indigenous oil company operating in Africa’s largest oil-producing country.
In his closing remarks to the Oando delegation, the Prime Minister of STP said, “I appreciate your willingness to help, and I hope that we can continue to partner on initiatives that will move the country and continent forward.”