Belemaoil Producing Limited (BPL) prides itself as a world class indigenous independent exploration and production (E&P) company operating in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria with a host of strong partners across the globe. They insist they are a dynamic and entrepreneurial organisation with a portfolio of world-class assets located in Nigeria. The managing director, Boma Brown, says the company is set to use the same crude oil that ruined the image of the oil region to change the narrative of the Niger Delta. The seasoned oil engineer told IGNATIUS CHUKWU in this exclusive interview in Port Harcourt that Belemaoil wants to prove that oil is still a blessing, not a problem, insisting that the young company has found the solution to problems that had scared away oil investors from the region. Excerpts:
What is this thing about Belemaoil that is everywhere you go in Port Harcourt these days?
Belemaoil is here to stay. The Niger Delta is going to be a different story by the things we have planned to do. We want to be everyone’s partner and ensure that the Nigerian nation benefits maximally and genuinely from the resources of the region so that people will no longer look at oil as a problem but a blessing. We want to give a different narrative about the Niger Delta. We want to give a different narrative about the people of the oil region, and we want to give a different narrative about the country, Nigeria. We want to prove that Nigerians are hardworking and honest people who can keep to an agreement. We want to prove that Niger Delta people are good people and that they are committed to unlocking the resources in the region to the benefit of Nigeria and the world with the right methods through the right environment. That is our objective.
You have just carried out a dedication church service; what does this building represent in the plans and ambitions of Belemaoil?
It represents that God is the root of our ambitions and operations. Te entire journey is rooted in God’s favour and plans. When you have the favour of God, there is a difference. We are an indigenous company, so anything we get, we go back to God and give him thanks. It is about service, it is about love. You heard directly from the man of God. Nigeria was blessed through the Niger Delta. Our name is Belema, and Belema means love. We are convinced that with God on our side, we will go beyond the shores of Nigeria. We will partner with others to unlock the resources in other lands.
So, where is the company in its journey to success at the moment?
Belemaoil acquired Oil Mining License (OML) 55 in 2013. In June 2016, we got the license to operate, after the initial hiccups. Within one year of operations, we have increased production by almost 100 per cent. Presently, we have a tripod approach to unlocking the resources in OML 55 for Nigeria. We started with what we call ‘Wells and Reservoir Management’ to show the world that we are using global best practices to unlock these resources. OML 55 is a mature oil field. We also have realised that by looking at our portfolio, we have enormous gas resources and our second objective is to unlock and monetise these gas resources for energy. You know how gas supply has been an issue in Nigeria. The third led is to do a long-term regional exploration, looking at the deeper horizon. So, Belemaoil is poised to show the world that we are here to stay long time, meeting the aspirations of all the stakeholders using the gas resources and exploring to replace volumes. This will ensure that that Nigeria would have more resources and energy security.
In your plans, are you stopping at only one well and when do we expect more wells?
We are not with one well but one field called OML 55. We are into exploration to discover more fields and acquire more oil licenses as ‘partners of choice’. We are ready to partner with the federal government of Nigeria (FG) and other nations to unlock their resources. We are going for more mining leases. We are using global best practices to enable us explore anywhere in the world. We want to be partners of choice for even indigenous oil companies that have to want us to run their fields because we have the expertise. Belemaoil is not just producing but to bring global expertise to prove that the indigenous industry has the people that can unlock the value chain.
How soon does Belemaoil intend to expand to other states of the oil region?
No, we are not pursuing states of the federation alone but countries. Pursuing other states is like limiting us. The programme of expansion is on. We have already set up exploration unit and we are already aggressively pursuing other licenses into our portfolio. Our founder’s dream is to ramp up to be number one indigenous oil production company with highest production rate.
Everywhere one goes, communities are clamouring for Belemaoil to acquire their oil fields, won’t it appear to your competitors that Belemaoil is sponsoring the protests?
That sounds offensive as if the communities do not have a mind of their own. We need to look beyond that. We have the Belemaoil model and people are seeing it. The community leaders are well respected individuals and they must be respected.
Few days ago, a group in Eleme protested against Belemaoil, saying you are forcefully trying to take over the Ogale oil field without due process (consultation), what is the true position?
That is also another offensive statement. It’s like saying we can arm-twist the FG. We have said we are going to partner with the FG, not to arm-twist them. We have talked about being the partner of choice. We want people and the governments of the world to say, if you want to unlock values in oil resources, look for Belemaoil. It is about doing those things that are right. We have changed the paradigm in community management; and that is what the communities have seen and they are saying, let Belemaoil come.
Is their call what is needed to give you oil wells?
Beyond what the communities are saying, we are building huge technical capability with international best beyond the standard practice in the oil and gas industry. I think all stakeholders need look at it from the point of non-technical risks. We are also saying that non-technical risks (such as community risks) have hindered progress in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. We all know the problems in the Niger Delta which have scared away oil investors in the oil region. We are turning around that narrative to now make the communities say, come and explore oil. It is a steep change in perception of oil as a boom instead of doom by partnering with communities who now say, we need genuine development. It is that desire for genuine development where we are creating value with the communities now changing the mindset of the community people to that of demanding that we should come.
They now say; we want Belemaoil. This is because they know they will gain and the FG will benefit. It does not help anybody to fail to unlock the resources due to lack of good operating model in the communities. You need the communities to have gainful employment, to get genuine development, to know that their children don’t wake up in the morning and remain idle, you need them to know that somebody is watching their back, and they need to be sure that their environment is protected. That is what Belemaoil is offering as value proposition to the communities.
What is your present production volume?
We are recording between 12,000 to 13,000 barrels of oil per day at the moment; we are pushing to 30,000 bpd within the near short term, in fact before end of 2017.