The phenomenal growth of Nigerian indigenous oil giant and African energy powerhouse, Aiteo, in over two decades of existence, is a testament to the pursuit of excellence, an unshakeable resilience, and a commitment to developing the local economy.

Founded by Benedict Peters in 1999, Aiteo has transformed from an oil trader to Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil producer. By a dint of hard work and dogged focus on distinguishing itself from the pack, Aiteo has become the custodian of some of the most important oil assets in Nigeria. The company operates one of the largest oil blocks in the country; Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29, which it acquired in 2015, and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line(NCTL), a 115km long, 150,000bpd capacity oil delivery pipeline carrying crude from the oil fields of the Eastern Niger Delta to the oil terminal at Bonny. The company’s feat in the upstream oil and gas sector would not have been possible a decade ago, when the sector was the exclusive territory of International Oil Companies (IOCs).

With just a clear-cut vision and a bullish ingenuity and industry, Benedict Peters has built an integrated energy group with the experience and assets necessary to provide oil and gas on a regional and global scale. Aiteo, which contributes over 5per cent of Nigeria’s daily oil production, today, has one of the largest private storage facilities (with a capacity of more than 320 million litres at Port Harcourt and Apapa) for refined petroleum products in sub-Saharan Africa while it is also involved in refining and production, bulk petroleum storage, trading, marketing, supply, power generation and distribution.

 Aiteo’s good fortune may have inspired in the firm, a deep sense of responsibility and a desire to make a positive change in its environment. Being an indigenous brand, it has sought to be more visibly identified as ‘Proudly Nigerian’ and has invested immensely in the Nigerian economy.

Aiteo has strategically attracted over US$4 billion through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the Nigerian economy with the upscaling of its operations in the last five years. The company also continues to contribute billions of Naira and millions of US Dollars to the nation’s treasury through taxation, royalties, and others.

In terms of manpower development, Aiteo is also proudly Nigerian as the bulk of its work force and management are Nigerians. The company’s rapid growth and extensive operation has created about 11,000 job opportunities directly and indirectly.

Aiteo has also demonstrated the ‘Proudly Nigerian’ mantra in its contracts. The company once revealed that its independent local operators and SME suppliers are sourced from its host communities to support its operations. Benedict Peters has also made a point of publicly endorsing the 2010 Local Content Act and is one of the most vociferous evangelists for acting upon its recommendations.

Aiteo has also made immense contributions towards its operating communities, sometimes introducing life-changing initiatives to communities where it operates. This includes taking care of the energy needs of the communities to ensure regular supply of power, which keeps the local economy running.

“Doing good business requires us looking forward and recognizing the community and environment in which we operate, seeking to preserve what works and doing what is in the best interest of our staff and the community at large,” Benedict Peters once said about the rationale for the company’s commitment to its host communities.

Moreover, due to the proximity of its operations to the traditional lands of the Niger Delta people, Aiteo is giving back to these communities by incorporating them into its operations through employment opportunities, targeted training programmes and supporting of local businesses. Aiteo has also made sure that a sizeable portion of its workforce are sourced from its host communities.

For almost half a decade, Aiteo has been committed to promoting the study of engineering in its host communities, awarding annual scholarships to study engineering courses in higher institutions. Many indigenes are on their way to becoming oil and gas professionals through programs like this.

Aiteo has also made several donations to registered charities and not-for-profit charitable organizations to support social investment initiatives in its host communities. Most of these initiatives are often done without the usual media buzz but Aiteo is surely working it.

Education is the most fundamental drive for national development everywhere in the world.  According to late former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, Knowledge is power, Information is liberating, and Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. Perhaps, taking the cue from Kofi Annan, Aiteo’s new management Victor Okoronkwo has begun expediting Aiteo’s contributions to the development of the community and Education presents an opportunity to make a monumental social investment into the lives of the people.

 In May 2019, the oil giant contributed half a billion naira to the Bayelsa State Education Development Trust Fund, marking the largest donation received by the foundation since its enactment into law in March 2017.

It is worthy of note that Aiteo is an indigenous company, likely to have local considerations at the heart of its operations. This must have influenced its approach to community engagements as it seems to be keen to understand issues that are germane to the communities while planning its interventions.

Nelson Mandela once said: “Sports has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.”

Perhaps this explains Aiteo’s commitment, more than any other corporate organization in Nigeria, to supporting football both nationally and in its host communities. The company currently sponsors the Federation Cup (renamed Aiteo Cup) and is the optimum partner of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) in addition to sponsoring the NFF awards. Continentally, Aiteo has sponsored two consecutive annual CAF awards. In Nembe Kingdom, Bayelsa State, where many of its facilities are located, Aiteo has taken over the complete sponsorship of the community’s football club, which has been renamed Aiteo-Nembe FC.

Aiteo’s exploits has not escaped the observation of discerning eyes, with several laurels as proof. Aiteo’s founder, Benedict Peters was listed by Businessday as one of the most influential Nigerians in 2017. Aiteo group was adjudged and awarded winner in the following categories: Oil & Gas CSR/Sustainability Company of the Year (Upstream), Oil and Gas Company of the Year (Upstream Indigenous) and Oil and Gas CEO of the Year (Upstream Indigenous) at the Guardian Oil and Gas roundtable and awards in June 2018. This was followed by recognition as indigenous oil and gas company of the Year at the Nigerian Oil and Gas (NOG) Awards on in July 2018. Benedict Peters has also received several commendations abroad for his business and leadership exploits. These include Africa’s Oil and Gas Leader of the Year award by Forbes in September 2018, African Icon of the Year award by the Foreign Investment Network (FIN) in January 2019, and induction into the Board of Advisors for the U.S.-Africa Business Centre by the US Chamber of Commerce in September 2019.

Aiteo’s motto says it is the future. With its laudable contributions to the Nigerian economy and host communities, and its immense potentials, it may just be the future of Corporate Social Responsibility for oil companies in Nigeria.

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