Nigerian oil mogul acquires 90 percent stake in Zambian oil blocks

Pan-African explorer Oranto Petroleum owned by Nigerian oil billionaire Arthur Eze has acquired two oil exploration blocks located onshore of the East African nation of Zambia. This Blocks 17 and 27 are Oranto’s first investment in Zambia.

“Oranto Petroleum is committed to an aggressive work program to increase the level of prospectivity in one of the world’s last true frontier markets. Our specialty at Oranto Petroleum is discovering the vast potential of Africa’s frontier oil and gas markets, and we are very pleased to add Zambia to our extensive portfolio. We are committed to developing Zambia into an oil and gas producing nation, as we have many times with other countries on the continent,” said Prince Arthur Eze, Chairman of Oranto Petroleum.

This agreement will see Arthur Eze’s owned company control 90 percent stake in the oil blocks while ZCCM Investment Holdings, a company representing the government of Zambia will hold the remaining 10 percent. As part of the agreement, the company is expected to conduct geological and geophysical studies for the first two-year sub-periods. Oranto now joins Tullow Oil and Bowleven as the current operators in Zambia.

By this acquisition Oranto Petroleum and its sister company Atlas Petroleum International now have the largest African independent Petroleum company by acreage, with active exploration and production programs across the continent. They have their presence in over 10 countries which include Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, South Sudan and Uganda.

This deal which further strengthens the firm’s footprints across the continent comes after it was reported that four Asian firms were jostling to acquire assets owned by Oranto.  The firms are Indian firms Bharat (private), ONGC (state-owned), China’s Yanchang and Russian oil major, Rosneft. Africa Energy Intelligence reported that the four Asian firms were keen to get their hands on the blocs the firm only recently picked up.

In 2017, it was announced that Oranto Petroleum has begun exploring oil and gas in South Sudan through an agreement with BGP. This comes after it signed its EPSA with the Ministry of Petroleum by committing $500 million to the development of the 24,415-km2 acreage. The block is believed to be highly prospective, with productive parts of the Muglad basin to the northwest and estimated reserves in place of more than 3 Bbbl of oil. This is also part of Total’s former bloc B. The company also snapped up two exploration permits in Uganda, Ngassa Shallow Play, and Ngassa Deep Play (near Tullow Oil’s Lake Albert discoveries)

What you didn’t know about Oranto petroleum

Atlas Petroleum International and its sister company Oranto Petroleum operate as Atlas Oranto petroleum. They have an extensive footprint across the African continent, holding 22 oil and gas licenses in 11 jurisdictions.  The group has been exploring Africa since 1991.

Both companies are privately held, with a common share ownership, and are registered in Nigeria. The Stock in the companies is held by the Eze family, whose members are actively involved in the day-to-day operations of both companies.