Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Theophilus Danjuma, Former Nigerian Minister Wins Chinese Oil Deal…

A former defence minister who served as army chief of staff under one of Nigeria's previous military regimes owns the firm which on Monday sold the rights to an offshore oil field to China's CNOOC for more than two billion dollars.

The Chinese company said it would buy a 45% stake in offshore oil bloc OML 130 from private Nigerian company South Atlantic Petroleum (Sapetro) Ltd, which multiple business sources confirmed is owned by retired lieutenant general Theophilus Danjuma, the firm's chairman.

Sapetro's listed offices in Lagos were empty on Monday. Neighbours directed an AFP reporter to a second address where security guards said no company officials were present and telephones had not yet been installed. Calls to the firm's previous numbers went unanswered.

Now a wealthy businessman, Danjuma served as chief of army staff between 1978 and 1979 under Nigeria's then military ruler General Olusegun Obasanjo and returned to act as defence minister when Obasanjo came back to office as an elected civilian president in May 1999.

He stepped down at the end of Obasanjo's first term in 2003, following a turbulent period in office in which he was blamed by many for a massacre of civilians carried out in October 2001 by Nigerian troops in the village of Zaki-Biam.

He has since become a vocal critic of the president.

Earlier, in July 1966, Danjuma was one of the leaders of a military putsch which overthrew Nigeria's first military dictator General Aguyisi Ironsi and helped set in train the events which led to the west African country's devastating 1967-1970 civil war.

CNOOC's purchase gives China a potentially lucrative interest in Oil Mining Licence 130, which includes the Akpo oil field in deep waters in the Gulf of Guinea south of the Niger Delta…

South Atlantic Petroleum had initially planned to sell its stake in OML 130 to India's ONGC, but last month the Indian government stepped in to halt the deal. Officials said that Delhi considered the investment too risky.

Article culled from Business in Africa online