Forbes Names Aiteo Founder, Benedict Peters, Oil & Gas Leader of the Year

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Benedict Peters

Bayo Akinloye

International business leader and founder of Aiteo Group, Benedict Peters, has been honoured with “Africa’s Oil and Gas Leader of the Year” award at Forbes’ Best of Africa Gala, which held at Forbes Headquarters, New York, last Thursday.

The award was in acknowledgement of Peters’ contributions to oil and gas development in Africa through visionary leadership, distinguished service, and transformational realignment of a sector dominated by international oil companies, according to a statement by Aiteo Group on Saturday.

The Forbes award also recognised Peters’ commitment to bettering the lives of people and societies across Africa through philanthropic engagement.

On presenting the award, CEO and Vice Chairman of Forbes Media, Mike Perlis, said, “Recipients are singled out for their work in bringing prosperity to all 55 countries of the African continent.”

In a similar vein, the Editor, Emerging Markets for Forbes, Paul H. Trustfull, was quoted as saying, “Peters’ ascendancy in Africa’s oil and gas sector has been exemplary as well as revolutionary. His company, Aiteo, has thrived for about two decades – going from a downstream start-up to becoming a leading integrated energy conglomerate with strategic investments in hydrocarbon (or commodities) exploration and production.”

Trustfull noted further, “Peters reinvented himself in times of great personal challenge. He resurrected his identity and reputation while battling injustice. He proves that inspirational leadership in a difficult industry is possible.”

Dedicating the coveted award to all Aiteo employees worldwide, Peters said, “The acknowledgement by Forbes as ‘Oil and Gas Leader of 2018’ is inspiring. It means a lot to me and the entire Aiteo Group. I am delighted that the international community recognises our contribution towards Africa’s self-sufficiency in energy and our aspiration to become a reference point for indigenous capacity in oil and gas.”

Continuing, the Aiteo boss added: “This award motivates us to broaden our vision for the continent, despite all odds, and accelerate her economic transformation. We believe that Africa has what it takes to lead the world and we will continue to push the frontiers of development through our investments in people and technology. The success of our oil and gas upstream subsidiary proves that the future we envision in Africa rests to a large extent in the hands of Africans.”

It would be recalled that Peters ventured into the oil and gas sector as an entrepreneur in 1999 and initially traded mainly in the downstream sector. According to the statement, Aiteo is currently the highest-producing indigenous oil exploration and production company in Nigeria.

In 2015, Peters consolidated Aiteo’s asset portfolio with a $3 billion acquisition of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest onshore block (OML 29).

“Subsequently, Aiteo optimised the asset’s yield from 17,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) to almost 70,000 bopd within the year of the asset’s acquisition. The largest indigenous energy provider currently peaks production at around 100,000 bopd, doubling its initial asset value to $6 billion within three years. The company plans to invest another $4.3 billion acquiring additional offshore assets with a projected total output of 250,000 bopd in the short to medium term,” the company said in the statement.

It further disclosed that beyond oil, the Aiteo Group had investments in mining, agriculture, infrastructure development, electricity generation and distribution, with a fast-growing retail distribution network and focus on serving the needs of communities across the continent by leveraging a unique combination of a strategic asset base, technology, innovation, and some of the best technical and business minds across the industries it operates in.

The group has been expanding rapidly and extending its operations to different countries across Africa and beyond with emerging international presence in the DRC, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Zambia, Zimbabwe as well as offices in Geneva and Paris, the statement further revealed.

It added, “Peters is passionate about youth empowerment and has donated generously to support football on the African continent. Through Aiteo, he sponsors the Nigerian Football Federation, CAF Awards, Aiteo Cup (the Federation’s foremost tournament in Nigeria) and a football team in his company’s host community.

“He has also assisted thousands of internally displaced persons in northern Nigeria while supporting clean water sanitation initiatives in Africa, in partnership with Face Africa, improving the lives of over 25,000 people in rural Liberia. Peters addresses social and environmental issues in the agricultural sector through the Joseph Agro Foundation, set up in July 2014 to tackle chronic unemployment and water shortage.”

In recognition of his “groundbreaking contribution to development”, Peters was one of four recipients of the Marquee Award for Global Business Excellence at the Africa-US Leadership Awards in 2014.

In the same year, he received the “Leadership CEO of the Year” award. In 2015, Peters was conferred with the “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Awards” in the “Economic Empowerment” category.

He was listed among the “50 Most Influential Nigerians in 2017” by BusinessDay. More recently, he has been recognised as the “Oil and Gas Man of the Year” at the prestigious 2018 Guardian Awards.