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Celebrating women in global petroleum and energy – Sonny Atumah

Recently there was an altercation between the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and his successor in office at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC,Dr. Maikanti Baru.


The undercurrents that played out in the fore were the boardroom issues swept up in the whirlwind of media war.   As they simmer down we try to proffer suggestions on how best Nigeria can utilize petroleum which can be distilled for various products. Many investments in petroleum numbering about 6000 products and derivatives made in the industry are of boardroom politics and the products thereof are utilized to advance the frontiers of development.

Many industry decisions in the petroleum and energy are variously not gender sensitive.  Many women have vied into areas perceived to be exclusive preserve of the male gender without success. A Study conducted in the United States has shown that few women cracked the glass ceiling. The report indicates that much as the women are ready, many businesses are not willing to hire them for top executive jobs in the oil and gas industry. Women hardly make it to be oil and gas tycoons.  Even when some believe that women are good managers the maxim has not changed. Not even in America!

Some attribute it to the fact that many women do not have engineering backgrounds; about 13 percent of women in the industry are engineers. Other perception is that women do not have the abilities to lead companies. Why are women being discriminated against for profession or gender? Globally, women are picking up the gauntlet by throwing in everything (legally and professionally) to rewrite the gender story that is for the menfolk.   A global look at petroleum shows that women that are given the opportunity are having stellar performances to shape the 21st century business.

Vicki Hollub is the first female CEO of a major American oil company, Occidental Petroleum. In 2016, the Alabama-trained mineral engineer made corporate history as she oversaw wells in Texas and other U.S. states that reaped US$12 billion. The Fortune 500 most powerful women in business 2017 revealed the leadership qualities of women in petroleum and energy.

When William Durant and Charles Mott founded General Motors Holding Company in 1908, little would they have   envisaged an automobile empire that one day is headed by a woman. Mary Barra leads the United States auto giant that delivers an 10 million vehicles annually. Barra manages 181,000 employees and remained in the driver’s seat of GM even as Michigan crosstown rival Ford ousted a male CEO Mark Fields last May.

GM under Barra beat Tesla’s much-hyped Model 3 to market with the Chevrolet Bolt EV, launched in 2016 with a battery that can outlast Tesla’s non-luxury pure electric car.  The demand for Hybrid Electric vehicles (HEV) is expected to grow at a strong rate considering strong concerns about reducing carbon emissions and thus becoming environmentally sustainable.

This demand is set to benefit GM as it is investing heavily in developing plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology. GM is to deploy Chevrolet Bolts early next year. General Motors  plans to become the first company to test self-driving cars ( without a human driver) in New York City, a move aimed at asserting leadership in the race to develop autonomous cars and a potentially important step toward commercializing the technology. (Fortune 500).

Again courtesy of Fortune 500, it would surprise many that at the helm of the United States defence system is a woman that is controlling a large chunk of the White House defence budget. Maryllyn Hewson is the Chairman, President, and CEO of Lockheed Martin that produces the F-35 fighter-jets. Leanne Caret is executive vice president of The Boeing Company and president and chief executive officer of Defense, Space and Security.

She is a member of Boeing’s Executive Council and promoted to head Boeing’s $29.5-billion-in-revenue Defense, Space and Security division in 2016. Lynn Good is the first female Chairman, President, and CEO of Duke Energy. It is the nation’s largest utility, since 2013. She has unloaded billions in overseas assets to refocus the company and says Duke will invest $11 billion in gas and renewable energy projects in 10 years.

Again, Africa celebrates her own every year through the Global Women in Petroleum & Energy Club since 2001. The concept is to recognise the significant roles of women in global oil, gas and energy. It brings together influential women in the industry and encouraging young talents to follow in their footsteps. The Global Women Petroleum & Energy Club Award for Africa, 2017 will be awarded to Maggy Shino, Petroleum Commissioner, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Namibia next Wednesday at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa.

A young Nigerian woman in the upstream sector Damilola Owolabi, of Dreg Waters Petroleum & Logistics, had the privilege of being the Global Woman Petroleum & Energy for Africa in 2016. Let’s celebrate women for a better tomorrow.


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