By Our correspondent
Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi, the chairperson and CEO of Nestoil Group, a Nigerian oil conglomerate, is set to complete the purchase of a $76 million Gulfstream G-700 jet from the manufacturer in Georgia, United States.
In addition, Mr Azudialu-Obiejesi and his oil firm are now strategising to expand their dealings with American businesses in Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, California, and other states in the US.
Incorporated in 1991, Nestoil has grown to be one of Nigeria’s foremost indigenous engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning (EPCC) companies in the oil and gas sector.
Mr Azudialu-Obiejesi, 63, the founder and managing director of the company, has now set his eyes beyond the shores of Nigeria, looking to build a world-class energy conglomerate.
Aside from expanding Nestoil’s operation in America, the billionaire businessman’s other priorities include the purchase of a new Gulfstream G-700 aeroplane that sells for $76 million.
At the current official market rate of N780 per US dollars, the amount is equivalent to N59.3 billion.
The G-700 aircraft is an all-new jet that is currently in flight test and is anticipated to enter into service this year, according to Guardian Jet, an organisation providing aircraft owners and operators with market intelligence advice.
The aircraft, its manufacturers say, is an ultra-long-range bespoke private jet with two engines. It will offer the largest cabin in business aviation, carrying up to 19 passengers and having up to five living areas.
“The Gulfstream G700 unites a revolutionary cabin with all-new Roy Royce engines and the award-winning Symmetry Flight Deck,” the manufacturers said in a product brochure.
Gulfstream said the all-new aircraft will deliver better performance and greater cabin comfort. During certification flying, the aircraft demonstrated increases in range and speed as well as improvements in cabin altitude, Mark Burns, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation President, said recently.
“We are undertaking one of the most extensive flight test programmes as the G700 is the first business aircraft to undergo Federal Aviation Administration certification following the passage of the 2020 Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act.
“As a result, we will be delivering an extremely mature, rigorously tested aircraft that will outperform expectations in speed, range and cabin comfort. Our certification efforts continue to advance, and we look forward to delivering the G700 to customers around the world.”
If the purchase is completed, Mr Azudialu-Obiejesi and his Nestoil will be among the first set of buyers in the world to acquire the luxury jet.
Currently, Nestoil relies heavily on an older Gulfstream jet for which, in addition to its purchase price, the company has spent $31 million (N41 billion) on parts, maintenance, and management, company documents show.
The company also has a Bombardier jet, which is manufactured in Canada and was financed with a $25 million (N33.6 billion) loan from a leading Swiss bank.
However, Mr Azudialu-Obiejesi, the Nestoil CEO, said that he prefers U.S. jets, adding that he plans to continue purchasing and relying on them for the foreseeable future.
In November 2022, Nestoil’s aviation subsidiary signed a letter of intent for the purchase of the G-700 aircraft.
The deal is at an advanced stage, with Gulfstream and Mr Azudialu-Obiejesi’s Nestoil arranging schedules for the completion of the acquisition.
Mr Azudialu-Obiejesi is also planning a trip to Georgia soon to complete the transaction.
Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi and his Nestoil
Mr Azudialu-Obiejesi is known as an astute businessman with a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Benin and an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from the University of Nigeria. He established Nestoil in 1991 as an offshoot of the Obijackson Group of Companies.
Nestoil entities within the oil and gas sector engage in oil drilling, oil and gas exploration and production, dredging, aviation, civil construction, ship drydocking, pressure vessel manufacturing, major steel fabrication, and marine shipping.
The company’s biggest project to date was its construction for the Royal Dutch Shell company of half of the $1.1 billion 60-mile Nembe Trunk Line in the Niger Delta.
In its 32 years of operations, the company has expanded to become a leading indigenous oil and gas company handling multi-million dollar contracts, with its clientele including the Nigerian government and international oil companies.
The company has further expanded its services through the establishment of affiliates to handle specific industry needs – B & Q Dredging Ltd [dredging and marine operations]; Gobowen E& P Ltd [upstream oil and gas activities]; Hammakkop Consortium Ltd [for civil engineering construction works]; Energy Works Technology Ltd [Offshore Fabrication and pressure vessel manufacturing]; Time Power Global Dynamics Ltd [power distribution]; and Century Power Generation Ltd [electricity generation].
Nestoil spearheaded the founding of the Neconde Consortium to gain a competitive advantage in winning bids for work. That paid off with the consortium acquiring oil block OML 42 from Shell.
In 2019, the London Stock Exchange designated the Nestoil conglomerate as one of the “Companies to Inspire Africa.”
In October 2022, former President Muhammadu Buhari awarded Mr Azudialu-Obiejesi a national honour — Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic.