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Benedict Peters : Colossus in murky oil, gas waters

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By Michael Eboh
Only a few Nigerian had been able to venture into the Nigerian oil and gas industry, start an exploration and production company from scratch, sustain the business, break even and make profit. One of such Nigerian is Benedict Peters, Founder and Executive Vice Chairman of the Aiteo Group.

Benedict Peters
Benedict Peters

Majority of the indigenous oil and gas exploration and production companies are currently struggling. The Federal Government, had a number of times confirmed this, when it stated that a number of indigenous oil companies awarded oil blocks lacked the capacity to develop the blocks, while a few others had entered into partnership with foreign companies to develop the well.

Under the guidance and management of Benedict Peters, Aiteo had been able to emerge from the murky waters of the Nigerian petroleum industry, surmounting the challenges stifling indigenous operators, to become an oil and gas company to reckon with, not only in Nigeria, but globally.

Today, the company is a significant player in the oil and gas industry, making giant strides and blazing new trails that only a few indigenous oil companies can be associated with.

These are some of the reasons why Peters was on Friday, January 18, 2018, given the award of the “Businessman of the Year” by the Vanguard Newspaper.

Under Peters’ leadership, Aiteo Group has witnessed phenomenal growth and has now become Nigeria’s pre-eminent energy conglomerate with interests in various segments of the energy spectrum especially oil and gas industry and Power.

Subsidiaries operating nation-defining interventions in various areas of the energy space have occurred through Aiteo Exploration and Production, Aiteo Gas, Aiteo Power, Aiteo Trading and Aiteo Marketing.

Under his watch, Aiteo acquired Oil Mining Lease, OML, 29, touted as Shell’s biggest onshore producing asset in Africa, following a keenly contested world-class bid.

Following the conclusion of the acquisition and on assumption of operational control in September 2015, Aiteo grew the facility’s production output from 23,000 barrels of oil per day, bopd, to a record 90,000 bopd within one year, by innovation, professionalism and attention to the needs of the host community.

Aiteo’s take-over of Shell’s OML 29 not only generated over 11,000 job opportunities, but also reinforced Aiteo’s position as a leading indigenous oil and gas company with prospects to become a major global player in the medium to long term.

As a result of his belief in Nigeria, Peters was able to ensure that Aiteo’s strategic strides contributed Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, worth over $4 billion to the Nigerian economy.

Not afraid of challenges, Peters diversified and expanded Aiteo Group’s reach into the Nigerian power sector. This move saw the group commit to the ambitious objective of developing a pipeline of power generation projects that would tackle Nigeria’s perennial power challenges.

These include successful participation in various bids for the National Integrated Power Project, NIPP, owned generation companies, transactions that will significantly boost the electricity output of Nigeria upon completion.

Born at Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, December 5, 1966, into the middle-income family of a banker and homemaker, Peters holds a degree in Geography and Urban Planning from the University of Benin.

He started his career in the early 1990s with a short stint in national service at Union Bank and then Ocean and Oil Limited, now Oando Plc. He subsequently moved to MRS Oil Nigeria Plc as Group Executive
Director before rising to Managing Director.

He left MRS in 1999 to establish Sigmund Communecci which subsequently transformed to the Aiteo Group.
With over 30 years’ cognate experience in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, Benedict Peters has established a profile as Nigeria’s pre-eminent oil and gas and energy tycoon.

With an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, Peters was ranked by Ventures Africa as the 17th richest person in Africa as at November 2014. His business interests now span commodity trading, banking, mining, agriculture, hydrocarbon exploration and production.

A notable advocate for local content participation in the petroleum industry, his primary vision is to transform Nigeria’s economy through deploying cutting-edge, multi – faceted energy solutions.

Beyond business, Peters is passionate about football development, not just in Nigeria but across Africa. His interest has translated into Aiteo adopting football sponsorship as one of its core Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

In April 2017, Aiteo announced a five-year partnership agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, worth an estimated N2.5 billion. This partnership saw the Group emerging as the NFF’s Official Optimum Partner and funding the salaries of coaching staff of the Nigerian soccer teams, a move which is believed by many as the singular most important factor that led to Nigeria’s emergence as the first African nation to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

In June 2017, Aiteo followed up this sponsorship with a fresh N2.5 billion agreement to underwrite the cost of the Federation Cup, now rechristened Aiteo Cup. In October 2017, Benedict Peters took his philanthropy and corporate social investment beyond Nigeria’s borders when Aiteo announced a partnership agreement with the Confederation of African Football, CAF, to sponsor the Annual CAF Awards 2018.

The event, now called the AITEOCAF Awards, honours footballers who have made outstanding contributions to the development of football development on the continent.

Beyond sports, Peters and Aiteo have also made generous donations to the Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency to help tackle the acute problem of Internally Displaced Persons.

At the close of 2015, statistics showed there were over two million internally displaced persons in Nigeria experiencing extreme poverty and challenging living conditions. The severity of this increasing national problem prompted Benedict Peters and Aiteo to make generous donations to the IDPs in the state and to encourage fellow business people to respond to this national calamity.

In addition, under Peters’ leadership and guidance, the Aiteo Group has elevated to the forefront the circumstances of its host communities and prosecuted a prominent campaign to share economic benefits by providing work opportunities, offering training programmes and supporting local businesses. It has also focused its community interventions on improving local education, contributing to Nigerian arts and culture, and developing political awareness.

Beyond the corporate world, Mr. Peters is also involved in several impactful community development initiatives.

In July 2014, Benedict Peters founded the Joseph Agro Foundation which is focused on improving the lives of rural farmers with tools that can ensure their economic success. The Foundation supports employment initiatives that improve Nigeria’s school system, while also running a number of awareness programmes to promote responsible water consumption amongst farmers.

Peters is not new to accolades, as he has clinched numerous awards both within Nigeria and outside the shores of the country.

Local companies now bid for crude oil term contracts – NNPC

Self-effacing and generally indifferent to publicity, Benedict Peters is a beacon of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and is now commonly mentioned amongst Africa’s most successful corporate leaders.

Benedict Peters’ award as the ‘Businessman of the Year,’ by Vanguard Newspaper was in acknowledgment of his immense contribution to the development of the oil and gas industry in the whole of Africa.

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