Soni was born in Aba, Nigeria on June 1, 1946 and came to the United States to study in 1966. Soni was a recipient of an African Scholarship Program of American Universities (ASPAU) award which was administered by the African American Institute (AAI) in 1966.
The scholarship award enabled Soni to pursue his studies in Engineering and Applied Sciences with specialization in Chemical Engineering at Yale University.
He completed his Bachelor of Science degree program at Yale University in 1970. After his undergraduate studies at Yale, Soni moved on to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and completed graduate studies in Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
He was awarded the Master of Science (MS) degree in 1972 and the doctoral (PhD) degree in 1977. His MS degree thesis title was on “The Stability of Low Tension Interfaces—Effects of layers of Discrete Dipoles and Charges”. The title of his doctoral thesis was “An Infrared Spectroscopic Study of the Isomerization and Hydrogenation of Cyclic Olefins Over Zinc Oxide”.
Soni Oyekan is the President of Prafis Energy Solutions. Prafis Energy Solutions is an oil refining and energy consulting services company.
Prior to start of operations of his company in 2013, Dr. Oyekan had contributed significantly to chemical engineering and oil refining with his inventions and studies on catalytic systems and the catalytic naphtha reforming process.
His patents have been applied successfully in the efficient use of reactor engineering and catalysis for the processing of crude oil to meet consumer demands for transportation fuels, heating oil, propane and butane gases.
Dr Soni Oyekan has been recognized for his contributions in oil refining, and for his extensive volunteer and leadership roles in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).
Soni has held a variety of positions in AIChE. The positions include chair of Fuels and Petrochemicals Division (F&PD), chair of the Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) and a director of the AIChE Executive Board. He is currently a member of the Foundation Board of Trustees of AIChE.
Soni has contributed over the years in numerous technical discussions on petroleum refining at the annual National Petroleum Refiners Association (NPRA) Q&A conferences.
NPRA is now the American Fuels and Petrochemicals Manufacturers (AFPM). Dr. Oyekan retired in January 2013 from Marathon Petroleum Company after fourteen years as the Reforming and Isomerization Technologist of the company.
Dr. Oyekan has received numerous recognitions for his contributions in oil refining, chemical engineering and in the mentoring of engineers and technical personnel.
He is a member of the AIChE Foundation Board of Trustees and a Fellow of the AIChE. He has received honours and awards for his academic achievements and research in oil refining.
Soni is a member of Sigma Xi and Phi Kappa Phi honour societies. He is a member of the Yale Manuscript Society. He was honoured by AIChE’s Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) with its Distinguished Service award in 2000.
The Fuels and Petrochemicals Division honoured him with its Distinguished Service award in 2002. He is listed in the 2000 13th edition of Who’s Who amongst African Americans.
Dr Soni Oyekan was named an Eminent Black Chemical Engineer at the AIChE Centennial Meeting in 2008. He was the recipient of the AIChE 2008 William W. Grimes award for excellent contributions in chemical engineering and for the mentoring of underrepresented minority groups.
Dr. Soni Oyekan was the recipient of the 2009 Percy Lavon Julian award. The Percy Julian award is the most prestigious honour given by the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).
The award recognizes and honors a recipient’s scientific contributions and achievements, dedication to research, commitment to the educational development of others and passion for the chemistry profession.
He has 14 patents including 5 US patents and over 70 publications on a variety of topics in petroleum refining and catalysis including: Chapter 14. Catalyst Regeneration and Continuous Reforming Issues, P. K. Doolin, D. J. Zalewski and S. O. Oyekan, in Catalytic Naphtha Reforming, Second Edition, edited by G. J. Antos and A. M. Aitani, Marcel Dekker, 2004
Dr. Oyekan has over 40 years of experience in petroleum refining technologies and operations.