Nigeria is a country in West Africa blessed with many human, mineral, and Natural resources. Some of these resources include Gold, Columbite, crude oil, and many others deposited in various parts of the country. Over time, many of these resources were exploited and used as major sources of National income. A typical example was the exportation of cash crops.

Unfortunately, this narrative seemed to have changed with the discovery of crude oil in Nigeria, precisely at Oloibiri in Bayelsa state. With the advent of this new resource, all attention was placed on crude exploitation, with little or no attention to other resources. I guess this drastic change was the financial benefit of this newly discovered resource.

From 1956, oil companies sprang up, and exploration activity has now become an issue of national importance. As such, this article is carefully written to explain the levels of oil production and bring to the fur the activities of the major oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria.


Crude Oil Exploration

Crude oil (petroleum) is a raw material extracted from the earth, composed of long-chain/branched-chain hydrocarbon, which could be refined for various utilities. Oil operation is usually carried out by licensed companies.

Due to complexity in the oil exploration process, the oil and gas industry is divided into three; one company may or may not handle the entire process. These operations are divided into

  • Upstream

This is the part of the oil and gas industry responsible for the actual exploration and production. They go in search of new oil fields. As such, before carrying out their operation, they seek the consent of the landowner in accordance with the exploration laws. Their duty is also to carry out a proper assessment of the terrain seek geological backing as to whether or not the natural resource is abundantly available within the area. This study is necessary to prevent wastage of materials. They also carry out an impact assessment to measure the hazards and level of damage that their operations have caused. The process mostly used in crude oil exploration is the Seismic process.

  • Midstream

This is an intermediary part of the oil and gas sector. Their responsibility revolves around transportation of the natural resource to refineries. They are also duty-bound to carry out some storage activities purification processes prerequisite for refining; this includes ensuring a proper condition of channels that transport the raw material.

This group of companies is said to be intermediaries because they depend on the upstream sector, while the downstream sector depends on them.

  • Downstream

The Downstream sector refers to companies that refine petroleum product (Refineries). In refineries, they convert petroleum to various forms of fuels and natural gasses. Their activities seem to be the most crucial since the public interface more with their refined products. It may be important to note that apart from fuel, there are many other uses of refined petroleum such as; fertilizer production, insecticides, pesticides, polythenes, dyes, paint, etc.


Top Oil and Gas Companies in Nigeria

  1. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Joint Venture (SPDC JV)

This is the major and topmost oil and gas company operating in Nigeria. It was established about 86 years ago with the name “Shell D’Arch”; which was later changed to “Royal Dutch’s Shell” The company: Shell Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) is made up of 55% of NNPC, 30% of SPDC, 10% Total Exploration and Production, and 5% Azienda Generale Italian Petroli (AGIP)  in the shareholding capacity.

The operation of Shell Nigeria dates back to the Oloibiri discovery of crude oil in 1956. They also led the first export of Nigeria’s petroleum in 1958. This company had been in operation long before the establishment of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on April 1, 1977. As such, it has the capacity to produce an average of 1million barrels of crude oil per day. It also boasts 6000km of pipelines, about 1000 producing wells, 87 flow stations, and 8 plants.

The headquarters of this company is located in Rivers State; from which it directly employs over 4600 Nigerians, and another set of 20,000 persons indirectly. The company is not left out in its corporate social responsibilities, as it has awarded scholarships to deserving students and assisted the Federal Government and Niger Delta Development Commission in the provision of social amenities.


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  1. ExxonMobil

This is the second-largest oil-producing company in Nigeria. It started its operations in Nigeria in 1955, and currently has its headquarter in Lagos state. Today, what we have as “ExxonMobil” is a merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1998.

Before the merger, Exxon was part of the Standard Oil Company and Trust. It had already made a name in different phases of the petroleum Industry (specifically in pipeline transportation of oil and natural gas production).

Mobil, on the other hand, was a company evolving from the Socony-Vacuum Corporation of 1931. Today, ExxonMobil operates a joint venture with NNPC and produces over 540 thousand barrels of crude oil per day. It also combines upstream (exploration and production) and Downstream operations. ExxonMobil is also known for its chemical products.

  1. Chevron

This is also another leading oil and gas company in Nigeria. Chevron has been operating in the Nigerian Downstream sector for over fifty years. It has its headquarter in Lagos. Currently, it refines about 1.9 million barrels per day of crude oil and natural gas. The company has over 43,000 persons under its employ and a net income of $5.54 billion.

It also carries out most of its activities in the Agbami field. Like other oil companies, Chevron does not lag in discharging its social responsibilities. Within its period of operation in Nigeria, it has awarded scholarships (Cheveron-Agbami) to over 16,000 students, assisted strongly in the fight against HIV/AIDS and made many other contributions.


Petroleum exploration would remain a very lucrative venture. This explains the existence of many other oil and gas companies, including Addax, NLNG, Petrobas, Oando PLC, Conoil, Seplat, Schlumberger, Oriental Energy, and many others.


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