19 December 2012, Sweetcrude, Houston – Mr. Sunny Oputa is the CEO of Energy & Corporate Africa, a company fast acquiring a reputation for organizing oil and gas conferences and seminars in the United States of America.
In this interview with Hector Igbikiowubo, Editor, Sweetcrudereports, Mr. Oputa sheds light on the scheduled 6th Annual Sub-Saharan Africa Oil & Gas conference scheduled for Houston Texas in the first quarter of 2013, among other things he and his group is engaged in.
Energy and Corporate Africa is behind the organization of the 6th Annual Sub – Saharan Africa Oil & Gas Conference scheduled for April 25 and 26, 2013 at Marriott West Loop, Houston, Texas, United States. Please let us know what conferees will be focusing on this time around?
Thank you for having me on this interview segment. The objective of this conference is to create a common forum where top government officials, national oil companies from Sub-Saharan Africa, international oil companies, independent oil and gas companies, service companies, financial institutions, energy law firms, analysts, consultants and stakeholders will meet to exchange ideas, and also showcase available opportunities. It will also create a platform for exhibiting, discussing case studies, best practices, challenges, issues and above all network for optimization of goals in a harmonious environment.
The theme of the upcoming 6th Annual Sub-Saharan Africa Oil & Gas Conference scheduled for April 25 -26, 2013 is: “Maximization of investments, Exploration and Production in Africa.” Conferees will be focusing on global trends and how they affect the market in Sub-Saharan Africa. Major focus will be on ways to maximize huge investments made in the industry through understanding the region’s geopolitical trends, burgeoning petroleum laws, local content policies, risk mitigations of various kinds (technology, finance, project, human capital) and optimization of exploration/production through advancement in geology, geophysics, innovations in reservoir engineering, asset management, supply chain and improved health, safety and environmental processes.
The conference will also afford attendees the opportunity to have a first – hand grasp of what’s going on in the emerging Sub-Saharan Africa Oil & Gas Market; upcoming licensing rounds and how to plug into the latest business opportunities in the region.
Who are the confirmed speakers at for the 2013 conference?
Some of the confirmed speakers for this conference are: H.E. Gabriel Obiang Lima – Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy, Equatorial Guinea, H.E. Crispin Atama Tabe Mogodi – Minister of Hydrocarbon, Democratic Republic of Congo; Hon. Fafa Sanyang – Commissioner of Petroleum, The Gambia, Dr. Jim Demarest- Vice President International Exploration, Noble Energy, Tim O’Hanlon – VP Africa Business, Tullow Oil, Lance Crist – Head, Global Oil and Gas, IFC, Engr. Farouk Sa’id – Group General Manager, Gas at Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Steve Speegle – Vice President International Business development, ADTI (Transocean), Al Houseynou WANE – Exploration Advisor of PETROSEN, Jorge dos Santos – Executive Director Commercial & Investment, Nigeria Sao Tome & Principe joint Venture Authority, Gertjan van Mechelen – Exploration Manager, ERHC Energy, Dr. Keith Milheim – Director, MEPS – First Oil, Ana Maria Ebong – Managing Partner, BER Chartered Accountants, Equatorial Guinea; Jean – Pierre Goma – Special adviser on Petroleum to the Minister of Hydrocarbon, Republic of Congo – Brazzaville, Joseph Pili Pili Mawezi – Secretary General, Ministry of hydrocarbon DR Congo, and many others.
What was the level of attendance at last year’s conference? Would you say the event has witnessed a steady increase in participation and what level of participation do you anticipate next year?
I would like to state that the annual Sub-Saharan Africa Oil & Gas Conference which we organize is a special niche market or conference, if you will, built around top government officials, decision makers, company and industry top players. It is a forum where you meet top notchers in the industry that fall within the executive and senior management cadre. So, if you want to acquire, share knowledge and network with top players, core decision makers and experienced industry professionals, this conference is for you.
The level of attendance last year was impressive considering the format on which this conference was built and our targeted audience. We had about 160 participants. We had the participation of Equatorial Guinea’s minister of hydrocarbon, Ghana’s deputy minister of energy, Senator Rodney Ellis of Texas, Imo State Commissioner of Petroleum – Chief Ahaneku and many other top government officials. Apart from the Sub-Saharan African nations such as Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Gabon, Congo DRC, South Africa, Mali, Guinea Bissau, South Sudan , national oil companies and ministers of energy/ hydrocarbon that participate in this conference, the 2012 edition of this conference had the presence of companies such as Shell international , Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Noble Energy, Marathon Oil, Ampco Methanol, HESS, ADTI – Transocean Company, Bechtel, Petrodel, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, Nigeria Sao Tome & Principe JDA, Tullow Oil, Kosmos Energy, Afren, ERHC Energy, First Australian Resources, Sempra LNG, Ryder Scott, Petro South Sudan, Ecobank, Eventure Global, First-Meps Oil, Burleson Law firm , OMK Steel , Aker Solutions, China Petroleum Technology Development Corporation, Energy Allied, Vanco, ADECO Petroleum, Gulfoilandgas, SOCAR, PetroMaker , Adepetun Caxton –Martins Agbor & Segun, and Mirandaalliance, etc.
Yes, this conference has witnessed a steady increase in participation and we look forward to having up to 250 attendees in the 2013 event.
We understand that your organization has expanded the scope to now include exhibition as well. What informed this approach?
As our conference expands, we continue to look at the other needs of the market, what are the reasons why companies choose to attend our conference and how do we help them to meet their goals. We also try to understand the global trend in the industry and benchmark what we are doing along what other players in the industry are also doing.
Our goal is to meet and exceed the expectations of the companies and individuals that attend our conference. We found out that companies that attend our conference would want to showcase their brands to others in the event and want other participants to know about their products and services and at the same time be able to take questions. Now, you look at conference as market meant to meet certain needs which are essential to the players. Having exhibition booths became the plausible solution to this need.
Including exhibition in our conference gives companies grand opportunity to put their brands in front of key industry leaders and companies that may pick interest to do business with them. It gives companies adequate visibility, helps to strengthen their position in the industry, renew long lasting business relationships and make new contacts.
There are claims that conferences are just an avenue to jaw-jaw and that there hasn’t been commensurate action to address concerns and challenges facing the industry. What is your reaction to this claim?
Anybody or company that wants to participate in a conference must have a reason why they want to attend that conference. If you do not understand the objective of a conference, the subjects to be treated and expected participants to know if that meets want you are looking for, then you might be making a wrong ride. A conference must be able to benefit participants, educationally, socially and business- wise for it to be a complete mix and good conference. This is what we offer in our annual Sub-Saharan Africa oil & Gas Conference. Our conference is the real deal – a complete mix. People attend conferences to share knowledge among industry peers, understand new trends in the industry, show case their brands and network for business optimization.
We noticed that whereas you have Nigerian roots, you don’t have a sizeable Nigerian participation at your conferences. Why is this so? Doesn’t your organization market your events to Nigerian companies?
You are right about my Nigerian nativity. Nigeria is a big market in the region and very important in the industry. Our conference is interested in attracting huge presence of Nigerian companies and gaining a good pie of the market.
It is ironical, that our conference was quickly embraced by other Sub-Saharan Africa countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Senegal, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe, Mali, Congo DRC, Republic of Congo, Niger, South Sudan, Cameroon and many others than Nigeria. However, we have started to make huge penetration into the Nigerian market through increase participation from companies. The news about the quality of people, rich content of conference we put together, the cozy atmosphere and degree of networking that takes place in it has begun to reach out to many interested companies in Nigeria. Our conference provides a platform for those local companies that are seeking for technical and financial partners.
It is pertinent to let you know that this conference has also enjoyed the privilege of having key industry players who are Nigerians as keynote speakers. In 2009, Chief Tunde Afolabi, the Managing Director of Amni Petroleum Development Company was our keynote speaker. In 2010, we had Dr. Kase Lawal, the Chairman/CEO of CAMAC Group and Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah- Special Adviser on Petroleum Matters to the President of Nigeria as our conference keynote speakers. Mr. Egbert Imomoh, the chairman of Afren plc was our distinguished keynote speaker and moderator of our technical panel session in 2011.
We are creating a new network for marketing in Nigeria and hope to gain more patronage.
Do you have any future plans to organize any of your conferences and exhibitions in Nigeria anytime soon?
By the grace of God, we look forward to having our first major conference in Nigeria in 2014. Right now, we have started to build local partnerships and network to support our conference in Nigeria. It is expected to be huge, add value and produce a dynamic shift in paradigm to enable conferees get their money worth.