Ever since the ‘black gold’ was discovered in 1956, Nigeria has played host to formidable crude oil prospectors. This followed the discovery of crude oil in Oloibiri, Bayelsa state by Shell D’Arcy company, the precursor of Shell Energy. And till date, the Shell company remains the most popular (and perhaps the most successful) crude oil company in Nigeria. Petroleum mining and refining began two years later.
The 10 Most Popular Oil Companies in Nigeria 2023
Here in this article, we present to you the most popular oil companies in Nigeria. Many of these companies obtained crude oil mining contracts by establishing a joint venture with Nigeria’s NNPC. While some of them are global oil giants, others are indigenously-owned.
We can also say for certain that the history of crude oil in Nigeria is very incomplete without mentioning the impact of crude oil mining on the environment so far. For the time being, we will do a brief intro of these companies to our readers.
Here are the top 20 most popular oil companies in Nigeria:
- Shell Energy
- Mobil Producing Nigeria
- Chevron Nigeria Limited
- TotalEnergies Marketing Nigeria
- Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC)/Eni
- Nexen Inc.
- Addax petroleum
- Ardova Plc
- Seplat Petroleum
- Conoil Producing Plc
- Oando Plc
- Devon Petrogas
- Sahara Energy
- MRS Oil
- Amazon Energy
We shall limit our discussion to a brief history of the top 10.
The Royal Dutch/Shell Group (now Shell Plc) established in 1907, is the largest oil prospecting company worldwide. The Nigerian branch was named Shell D’Arcy at the onset; it was the first foreign oil company to step into Nigeria. And it began the search for crude oil as far back as 1937. That search was rewarded in 1956 when the first oil well was discovered in Oloibiri.
The Shell Company today owns roughly 50 oil producing fields onshore, and more in the shallow and deepwaters (including Bonga field). It also owns five gas plants and two oil export terminals (Forcados and Bonny). Today it is the largest crude oil production company in Nigeria. The headquarters is in Rivers state of Nigeria.
Over the years, the company established the following subsidiaries:
- Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC)
- Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO)
- Shell Nigeria Gas (SNG)
- Shell Nigeria Oil products (SNOP).
ExxonMobil is a global crude oil production giant. Its Nigerian subsidiaries are:
- ExxonMobil Producing Nigeria Limited, and
- Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria.
ExxonMobil Nigeria started out as Mobil Exploration Nigeria Incorporated, which began operations in Nigeria in 1955.
Today, the company boasts of having 300 viable oil wells, as well as offshore (shallow and deepwaters) assets. It is the second largest oil production company in Nigeria. The Nigerian headquarters is in Akwa Ibọm State.
Chevron Nigeria Limited
The Chevron Corporation is another global crude oil company, whose Nigerian branch is Chevron Nigeria Limited. The Nigerian subsidiary started out as Gulf Oil in 1961, and entered a merger with Chevron Corporation in 1991. In 2001, Chevron Corporation entered into another merger with Texaco Overseas Petroleum Company. The entire assets of all three companies were thus combined to form the present-day Chevron Nigeria Limited.
Texaco had established itself in Nigeria in 1961, bearing the name ‘Amoseas’ (the joint merger between Chevron and Texaco). And oil drilling started two years later upon discovery of the Ọkan offshore field at the Escravos river. By 1963, crude oil production began.
Today, Chevron Nigeria owns additional oil fields in Meren, Meji, Abiteye, Agbami, and Iṣan. It also owns assets offshore, onshore and in deep waters, as well as owning the Escravos gas plant. It is reputed to be the third largest oil exploration company in Nigeria so far. The headquarters is in Lekki-Lagos.
TotalEnergies Marketing Nigeria
Total, a global petroleum products marketer was established in Nigeria in 1956 as Total Oil Products Nigeria. The company has since evolved into a crude oil and gas exploration and production company. It also operates solar projects and produces chemicals.
TotalEnergies Marketing Nigeria at present owns 5 depots, well over 570 fuel stations, several plants, warehouses and customer service centers across the nation. The company is a major supplier of aviation fuel, lubricants, diesel, petrol and kerosene in Nigeria.
Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC)
Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) is a subsidiary of Eni, an international oil exploration company established in 1962. NAOC is a joint venture formed by Eni in active partnership with NNPC and ConocoPhilips. Eni also operates majorly in Delta, Rivers, Imo and Bayelsa states.
Besides NAOC, the other major subsidiaries of Eni include:
- Agip Energy and Natural Resources (AENR)
- Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE)
NAOC operates on the land, and in swampy areas of the Niger Delta. While the other two subsidiaries handle operations in the shallow and deep waters. The company also owns shares in the Nigerian LNG Limited and Brass LNG Limited; as well as having an Independent Power Plant in Okpai.
Nexen Petroleum Nigeria Limited
Nexen Petroleum Nigeria is a subsidiary of Chinese-owned CNOOC International, whose origins are in Canada. The company was established in Lagos in 1998, and is wholly involved in the crude oil and gas exploration industry.
CNOOC through Nexen Limited, presently has a 45% stake in the OML130 oil block situated about 150 kilometers off the shores of Port Harcourt. The OML130 oil block is made up of four oil fields which are Egina, Egina South, Akpọ and Preowei. Nexen Petroleum also has a 20% stake in Usan oil field, located roughly 80 kilometers off the southern coasts of Nigeria.
Addax Petroleum Corporation
Addax Petroleum was established in Nigeria in 1994 following a separation from its parent company, Addax and Oryx Group of Companies. It acquired Ashland Nigeria Limited in 1998 and became a subsidiary of Chinese oil and gas giant, Sinopec group in 2009.
Addax Petroleum is now one of the largest oil and gas exploration and production companies in West Africa. The company owns a good number of onshore and offshore fields in Nigeria, Cameroun, Gabon, and even in far-away UK and Iraq.
Ardova Plc (formerly Forte Oi) was originally set up in Nigeria as British Petroleum Nigeria in 1964. The Nigerian-owned crude oil and gas company operates in the downstream sector, acting as a major distributor of petroleum products. These include aviation fuel, cooking gas, petrol, diesel and kerosene. The company also manufactures and distributes high quality lubricants.
In Nigeria alone, Ardova Plc has over 450 retail outlets, and two large storage facilities in Lagos and River states. The company also has branches in Ghana.
In 2009, Shebah Petroleum Development Company Limited and Platform Petroleum Joint Ventures Limited formed a partnership to set up Seplat Petroleum. Seplat commenced operations in 2010 as an indigenous crude oil and gas production company. And in 2019, Seplat acquired UK-based Eland Oil and Gas Limited.
As of today, Seplat Petroleum operates 8 oil and gas blocks within the Niger Delta region.
Conoil Producing Plc
Conoil Plc was established under the name Consolidated Oil and Gas Limited in 1984, and is owned by serial entrepreneur, Dr. Mike Adenuga. It is an indigenous crude oil exploration and production company. At present, Conoil Producing Plc has obtained oil exploration licenses for 6 oil blocks in the Niger Delta. The company is also a supplier of liquefied natural gas, lubricants, aviation fuel, kerosene, petrol, and diesel.
Crude Oil Production in Nigeria: Statistics
Nigeria remains the thirteenth largest oil-producing nation on Earth today. And the largest producer of crude oil in Africa. These statistics were presented in a January 2023 report by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) of which the country is a member. Nigeria at present produces nothing less than 1,235 million barrels of petroleum per day.
Crude Oil Production in Nigeria: The Impact
However, the preceding fact has not translated into exceptional rewards for the country. Because the negative impact of crude oil exploration on Nigeria has probably outweighed the expected good it should have produced. Moreso for four critical reasons:
- Huge levels of environmental pollution
- Lack of quality regulation and monitorship by the government
- Dearth of refineries
- Oil bunkering and militant attacks
These oil companies have both blessed and marred Nigeria simultaneously in significant ways. Their impact on the Nigerian economy and environment cannot be denied. They certainly brought huge foreign exchange and revenue, the much-touted petrodollars into the country’s government accounts.
But the host communities where these companies were established became quite battered and abandoned. The air, water and soil pollution levels were so high it led to widespread health problems till date. Agricultural lands and rivers were also messed up. Not surprisingly, communal and militant uprisings broke out that took years to quench.
This sorry scenario affected the core Niger Delta lands (where most of the oil wells are found), especially Ogoniland. Port Harcourt for the record is still facing serious air pollution from soot, largely as a result of unregulated gas flaring.
And to cap it all, the retail prices of crude oil products continue to increase across the country. Cooking gas, diesel and kerosene prices are at an all-time high as we speak, and even a struggle to obtain.
Nigeria and Crude Oil: Our Conclusion
Our prayer is that Nigeria should be granted a crop of visionary leaders in the near future that would clean up our energy sector. And bring better rewards from oil exploration to the citizens this time. Let the age of crude oil woes end as we hope to make valuable use of our resources this time around.
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