A state scholar at Orogun Grammar School, he finished in 1975 at the top of his class with Division 1 Aggregate 20. He took a degree in Geology from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he graduated in 1980 also at the top of his class with a Second-Class Upper degree and was voted president of the graduating class of 1980.
For his National Youth Service Corps programme, Austin Avuru was posted to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in August 1980 where he began his oil and gas career as a Well Site Geologist. He distinguished himself early in his career and would emerge Best overall Student at the NNPC comprehensive training class of 1983 at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Warri. He was also Best in Geology, Best in Geophysics and Best in Petroleum Engineering.
Austin Avuru acquired expertise as a Well Site Geologist, Product Seismologist and Reservoir Engineer. By 1987, he was one of NNPC’s pioneer 3-D Seismic interpreters and participant in one of Chevron’s largest 3-D interpretation project in 1987/88.
In 1991, he was the recipient of the NNPC GMD’s Merit Award for what was described, in his citation, as “Exceptional Performance”. Following that honour, Austin Avuru was among a cohort of seven chosen to undergo a Post Graduate Diploma programme at the University of Ibadan in order to convert them to Petroleum Engineers. And once again, Avuru emerged at the top of his PGD class.
Austin Avuru would resign from NNPC to join Mr. Kase Lawal’s nascent venture, Allied Energy Resources, an indigenous deep-water operator in 1992 as Exploration Manager, rising to the position of Deputy COO. Ten years later, Austin Avuru assembled a team of industry professionals to set up Platform Petroleum Limited, a Marginal Field development Company where he was the Pioneer Managing Director/CEO.
In 2007, Platform became the first, among the 24 marginal fields awarded in 2004, to bring her field to production. It remains a well-run oil and gas company till date. Austin Avuru and Dr. ABC Orjiako through their Companies, Platform Petroleum and Shebah Exploration and Production respectively put in a joint bid for OMLs 4, 38 and 41 through an SPV called Seplat. After extensive negotiations, Seplat was assigned the 45% interest held by Shell, Total and Eni for a Cash consideration. The assets were handed over to Seplat as Operator in July 2010. Austin Avuru, as Pioneer CEO, built the Company into a formidable indigenous oil and gas independent and, on 14 April 2014, Seplat was dual listed on the main board of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), a first for any Nigerian Company.
Mercurial, methodical and meticulous, Austin Avuru, a former president of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) is the author of the seminal volume, Politics, Economics & the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, a fellow of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (FNAPE) and 2015 winner of the Ernst & Young West Africa Entrepreneur of the Year. He received an Honourary Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2018.
Avuru served as technical co-ordinator for the review of the oil industry’s memorandum of understanding, was a member of the ministerial committee on the restructuring of the DPR and consultant to the Senate committee on petroleum resources between 2000 and 2003. He also chaired the technical subcommittee that drafted the policy blueprint which subsequently formed the basis of the Nigerian Content Act of 2010.
Austin Avuru, a philanthropist, and alumnus of the Harvard Business School OPM 41, retired from Seplat on July 31, 2020. He now runs his family investment company, AA Holdings Limited and his philanthropy, AA Foundation.
He is married with children.