The meeting took place discreetly in the heart of the 16th arrondissement of Paris.
On 11 November, in a suite at the Shangri-La palace, Nigerian businessman Arthur Eze met for two hours with Franco-Gabonese Henri-Max Ndong-Nzue, the African director of the exploration-production branch of French oil giant TotalEnergies, who was appointed to this position at the beginning of September.
A $6bn fortune
‘Prince’ Arthur Eze, owner and founder of Atlas Oranto Petroleum, is descended from a family of traditional chiefs who govern the Ukpo community in Anambra State – his brother, His Royal Majesty Dr. Robert C. Eze (Okofia VI), is the current head of the ‘kingdom’.
Arthur Eze, whose fortune is said to be close to $6bn, is planning to sell part of his land in southern Nigeria – in his home state, Anambra – to the French multinational. The latter hopes to strengthen its presence in the country, despite competition from US and British companies.
According to our sources, oil-rich Anambra is currently seeking to increase its oil revenues and take advantage of the coveted ‘oil-producing state’ status that the Nigerian government officially granted it in September. The local government has been trying to obtain this federal ‘open sesame’ since 2013, which will allow Anambra to be allocated a minimum of 13% of oil revenues from its lands, while the rest will go to the federal state.
Arthur Eze, a historic financier of oppositionist Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party, but who is nevertheless close to President Muhammadu Buhari, was in Paris from 7 to 13 November. The Nigerian president was also in France at the time, where he attended the Paris Peace Forum alongside France’s President Emmanuel Macron and US Vice-President Kamala Harris.
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In Nigeria, TotalEnergies mostly operates offshore, using five out of the 33 permits in which the multinational has a stake. The hydrocarbon giant utilises OML 130, which is located in the Egina field, and produced the equivalent of over 200,000 barrels of oil per day in 2019.
The French group also holds onshore assets via the SPDC joint venture, “which acquired 19 production licences (including 16 located onshore) following the sale of the interest in OML17 in January 2021,” says TotalEnergies. In 2020, the French group’s production in Nigeria reached the equivalent of 100 million barrels of oil, more than its combined extractions in Angola (78 million) and Gabon (10 million).
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