Mrs. Elohor Aiboni, MD of SNEPCo
-By Precious Okolobo
Two years ago, Shell named Mrs. Elohor Aiboni to superintend its deep-water subsidiary in Nigeria, an appointment that not only shattered the proverbial glass ceiling but also recognised the repertoire of Nigerian talent in the oil and gas industry. Elohor became Managing Director of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) on August 1, 2021, the first female to lead a Shell exploration company in over 60 years of operations in Nigeria. “Elohor’s appointment is a product of diligence, competence and commitment to Shell’s core values and its strong focus on diversity and inclusion,” Shell’s Senior Vice President for Nigeria, Marno de Jong, said at the time.
From the onset, Elohor was clear on her priorities – developing people and growing the business. “It is my responsibility, and one that I take seriously. I aim to lead by example and drive inclusive leadership in a way that will encourage and empower our future leaders as they grow to take up more leadership roles and support one another to safely outperform,” she said.
Elohor’s competence and commitment have ensured the achievement of notable milestones in her relatively short tenure. The biggest one being when Nigeria’s first deep-water exploration and production vessel, Bonga, hit a 1-billion-barrel oil export mark in February 2023. She was incredibly proud of all SNEPCo employees and contractors and commended them for the success of the Bonga FPSO and the attainment of the remarkable achievement.
Looking back on the time she has been in the role, Elohor said, “The experience has been challenging but exciting. It has been an honour leading a team of dedicated professionals who continue to safely produce oil and gas in a complex geographical zone, delivering value to stakeholders.”
Elohor is keen to stress that the SNEPCo-operated Bonga, Nigeria’s first deep offshore Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel, is more than oil and gas. It has advanced the frontiers of deep-water technology in the country, empowered Nigerian contractors and positively impacted lives across the Nigerian federation. Last year alone, SNEPCo paid a total of $907 million as taxes and royalties to the Nigerian government, in addition to more than $20 million remitted to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) within the same period in compliance with statutory requirements.
The social benefits of SNEPCo to Nigerians beyond oil and gas revenues are of importance to Elohor as she balances technical deliverables with social performance in the two focus areas of the company – health and education. She recalls that among the many projects delivered with support from its senior partner, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd), SNEPCo built and equipped a 100-seat ICT Centre at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun Delta State, while work is in progress on a $5-million e-library at the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State. In addition, a $10-million Geosciences Centre of Excellence is under construction at the University of Lagos.
The company’s scholarship schemes have provided opportunities for thousands of Nigerians to acquire secondary, university and post graduate education.
On the health side, SNEPCo, with the support of NNPC and in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health, implemented a capacity-improvement project for cancer treatment at the National Hospital, Abuja, which reduced the cost of cancer treatment from $10,000 to $2,000 with waiting time now less than two weeks from the previous six months. The project involved the installation of a state-of-the-art Linear Accelerator radiotherapy machine at the hospital. SNEPCo has also built and equipped health centres, including a paediatric facility, in different parts of the country and has donated medical equipment, ambulances and a mammogram machine to hospitals.
“This is Bonga at work,” Elohor said. “It is a story of Nigerians working for Nigeria. It has not been a coincidence that Nigerians have been managing directors of SNEPCo since 1993, with Dr. ‘Femi Lalude as the pioneer occupant of the post. This success story is the outcome of the collective efforts of these and other Nigerians who have not only enjoyed the backing of the extensive deep-sea experience of Shell but also the support and encouragement of NNPC and our co-venture partners.”
The pacesetting story of SNEPCo deep-water operations has continued to be an inspiration in the industry within and outside Nigeria. From the side-lines, one can see a promising company under a focused Elohor who is irrevocably committed to the pursuit of excellence to build a leading, safe, and cost-disciplined business that brings value to SNEPCo, its partners, shareholders and Nigeria which remains a heartland for the Shell business.