When Austin Ojunekwu Avuru, the co-founder and CEO, Seplat Petroleum Company Plc, turned 60 in August 2018, he had told the world that by God’s grace, he will retire around his 62nd birthday. And the oil and gas billionaire has obviously been plotting this tenaciously. Avuru was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Seplat on May 1, 2010, he could thus be waiting to mark 10 years on the saddle, before stepping down. And gradually, time is slowing down to a trickle. July is just a few weeks away. All the milestones and moments that he has experienced and enjoyed in the oil and gas industry are coming to an end in July when he resigns from the company.
Giving hints on what he plans to do post-retirement, Avuru had said that he will manage a small investment company, focusing on oil and gas upstream, real estate, capital market investment and agriculture. He, however, deliberately left out hospitality. But sources told Spotlight that aside his investment in his original forte of oil and gas, the 62-year old Delta State-born oil mogul has also invested heavily in a posh hospitality business called BlackBell. Though described as one of the richest oil and gas billionaires according to Nigerian Stock Exchange record —Avuru has a total of 75,362,658 shares in Seplat— Avuru has already invested heavily on Blackbell as a business concern with which he hopes to keep busy and ensure he steadily earns a daily income and not go broke in post-retirement days. Spotlight learnt Avuru’s luxury watering hole was initially operating from a modest building on Admiralty Way in Lekki, Lagos but now said to have been relocated to a sprawling building on the same street owned by Avuru. And the hangout has seen an increase in its patronage over the past months. A geologist by training, Avuru spent 12 years at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, where he held various positions including Well Site Geologist, Production Seismologist and Reservoir Engineer. In 1992, he joined the Allied Energy Resources in Nigeria, a pioneer deep water operator, where he served as Exploration and Technical Manager. 10 years later, he established Platform Petroleum Ltd and held the role of Managing Director until when his team worked with billionaire Dr ABC Orjiakor’s Shebah Exploration and Production Company to form Seplat in 2009.