ABUJA, Nigeria, Aug. 20 /CNW/ - The Chrome Group today announced its
plans to seek a listing of at least two of its companies on trading platforms
in Europe and the Middle East. In a statement released in Abuja today, the
Group Chief Communications Officer, Mr. Val Oji said that "this was part of a
comprehensive growth strategy which Chrome Group was implementing over the
next two years. Chrome recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with
Petrobras Petroleo Brasileiro S/A, Dedini Industries de Base S/A, Sugarsoft -
G Rossi, Rhodia Energy (Brasil) Limited and UNICA, and NNPC on a joint venture
for the exploitation of ethanol.
Prior to the commencement of the project, the consortium had secured over
50, 000 hectares of land in Katsina Ala/Benue River Basin for bio-ethanol
production. It has also commenced feasibility studies on sugarcane and ethanol
production. Our vision in this sub-sector is to be a dominant producer of fuel
ethanol for use both in the domestic and international markets. This vision is
predicated on increasing demand and rising prices of petroleum-based energy,
rising demand for cleaner, alternate fuels and availability of large
endowments of arable land, water resources and labour in Nigeria."
Mr Oji stated that the Executive Vice Chairman of Chrome Group, Sir Emeka
Offor, had recently given up his seat on the board of an American public
company, ERHC Energy Incorporated (OTC BB: ERHC) so as to concentrate fully on
driving the implementation of Chrome Group's plans.
In a statement on his resignation from ERHC, Sir Offor noted that his
devotion to ERHC, albeit as non-executive director and chairman over the past
few years had come at a cost to his other businesses. The full text of Sir
Emeka Offor's statement on his resignation from ERHC reads:
"In February 2001, a company that I owned acquired a controlling interest
in ERHC and I became a non-executive director and chairman of the
reconstituted board. At that time, ERHC was virtually dead. The shares were
trading at a few cents and ERHC had no tangible assets. The Company was
embroiled in a bitter dispute over its sole nominal assets, namely certain
rights in the Gulf of Guinea, and there was little hope that the Company would
ever resolve the dispute or realise any of the assets. The Company had no
revenues and was deep in debt. The accounts of the Company were classified. It
was entangled in claims by creditors and other claimants. In the Gulf of
Guinea, the Company was regarded as persona non grata as a result of its
disputes with the host government. I remember my business advisers at the time
telling me I was mad to get involved with such a Company. My family also
wondered why I didn't just concentrate on my substantial and secure business
interests in West Africa. My group of companies were producing a sizeable
profit and there was no need to imperil them by becoming associated with an
entity of uncertain future.
In my more than 25 years of being a businessman however, I always
relished business challenges. I was intrigued by ERHC when it was introduced
to me. Here was a small American company whose only 'assets' were in West
Africa. Subscribing to the American ethic that nothing is impossible, I
decided to invest in the Company against the advice of my family, friends and
The first thing we set about as ERHC's new board was to resuscitate the
Company. It would prove even more difficult than I had ever imagined. Through
perseverance, hard work and faith in God we were eventually able to give the
Company a new life after four long and trying years. In those four years,
serving on the board of ERHC was a thankless task for Nicolae and me who were
the non-executive directors. The only other director was the CEO of the
I brought all my goodwill in West Africa to bear, to salvage the Company.
I have always believed that diplomacy and friendly relations are preferable to
confrontation but without compromise of integrity and propriety. I was
non-executive Chairman and Director, yet for the Company's survival, I found
myself shuttling endlessly between the two West African countries where ERHC
assets were located, mostly at my own expense. Ongoing and bitter legal
disputes over ERHC's rights had alienated the government of Sao Tome and
Principe and neighbouring governments. We had to capitalize on my affiliation
with the Company before we would even be granted audience to seek
When doors were shut in our face, we persisted in our efforts. We refused
to give up until people finally started to listen to us and began to reassess
ERHC's claims on the merits. This was notwithstanding the fact that the
legitimacy of ERHC's claims had been established by arbitration. The process
was frustrating and exhausted me physically and mentally.
For ERHC's rights to be exploited, we still needed technical partners
with expertise and financial resources. We embarked on an extensive
international search which I led at the request of the Company management. I
had to use my business reputation to secure participation agreements for ERHC
with three reputable American operating companies in 2004. When those first
participation agreements did not work out, we had to move quickly in 2005 and
2006 to find replacements so as to save ERHC's assets in the JDZ. This
resulted in ERHC's signing of PSCs in 2006.
At that point, I felt my work in ERHC was done and prepared to step down
from the ERHC's board to concentrate on my other businesses. Unfortunately,
the things that happened to ERHC from May 2006 upset my plans in that regard.
I remained on the board so that we could reassure the market of the Company's
stability and prospects.
I have no doubt that ERHC will be vindicated. The genesis of ERHC's
current holding in the Gulf of Guinea goes back a decade and is rooted in the
foresight of investing in an undeveloped oil territory when no one else was
prepared to take the risk. I am certain that an emerging understanding of this
fact in the industry and among the media will eventually rest allusions to the
I remain committed to ERHC and my investment therein. However, Chrome
Group, of which I am Chief Executive, is about to embark on a new phase of
growth which demands my undivided attention in the next few years. This
requires that I decline to continue as Chairman and director of ERHC. I am
confident that I have taken ERHC to where it can stand on its own. "
About Chrome Group
Chrome Group is a leading multibillion dollar regional conglomerate based
in Abuja, Nigeria with vast interests in oil and gas, insurance, destination
inspection services, bio-fuels energy production, petroleum products trading,
real estate, logistics and dredging services. Chrome Oil Services Limited, the
pioneer company in the group has been doing business since the early 1990s and
has handled key projects (as part of a consortium) like the turnaround
maintenance (TAM)for the Port Harcourt refinery- Nigeria's largest refinery.
In addition to its commercial business activities, the group engages in
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes through which it intervenes
strategically in key areas of youth empowerment and promoting and sustaining a
renewable and greener environment. The group employs over 800 staff worldwide.
Chrome Group is also a non-racial and equal opportunity employer.
For further information:
For further information: Val Oji, Group Chief Communications Officer,