CHIKA IZUORA looks at the benefits of new strategic alliances by key training institutions in the oil and gas sector to increase in-country capacity to enable Nigerians secure management positions in multinational oil companies as well deepen local participation in the sector.
Section 30 of the Local Content Act, 2010, clearly provides that training shall be provided to Nigerians who require adequate training to operate within the Oil and Gas industry and this effort has created an avenue for continuous learning development opportunity. Training, in any given field, is advisable as it contributes to the development of manpower which thereafter results in attaining a company’s goals and objectives. Since the implementation of the Act by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, indigenous manpower and facilities have recorded landmark achievements in the areas of building local capacity and capability.
Nigeria first began producing oil almost 60 years ago and is Africa’s largest oil producer but inspite of this, it is only recently that the country have started witnessing indigenous involvement in the upstream industry business. Historically dominated by International Oil Companies (IOCs), the has over the last few years started witnessing an aggressive drive towards indigenous ownership in both the upstream and services segments. LEADERSHIP recalls that prior to introduction of the Local Content Law, the absence of local capacity in the industry had resulted in repatriation of about 90 per cent of the $12 billion yearly industry spending abroad, with its adverse effects on job creation and the growth of the economy.
This stemmed from the fact that the wider scope of the industry’s lucrative jobs was performed in foreign fabrication yards; while expatriate workforce dominated local strategic positions in the industry. Paucity of fund, absence of in-country capacity and inadequate manpower were identified as factors that denied the country the full benefits of her petroleum resources as only few indigenous facilities and manpower were involved in the oil and gas industry. While indigenous facilities and manpower were yearning for oil and gas industry jobs, foreign yards were flooded with jobs that ought to benefit Nigerians and the country’s economy. To further stamp indigenous ownership of the industry, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu recently directed the NCDMB to ensure that the Nigerian oil and gas industry is able to produce all its needs by year 2027, The minister, who gave the charge in Owerri, Imo State at the Nigerian Content Workshop organised by New Planets Projects in conjunction with the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream said the federal government expects that over the next 10 years, the Nigeria oil and gas industry, in collaboration with foreign investors would have developed in-country capacities and capabilities to produce all its offshore platforms locally.
“I would like to see the Japanese coming; I would like to see the Koreans come here; I would like to see collaborative efforts that will make our oil industry produce everything that we need,” he said. He acknowledged the giant strides made by the board in seven years, commending particularly the excellent achievements of the current executive eecretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote, whom he credited for working with energy and passion and meeting several targets set for the board in the past one year. Noting that Nigerian Content achievement in engineering services had hit 80 per cent, the minister insisted that performance in offshore aspects of the industry was still substantially low and charged international and local operating oil companies to collaborate with the NCDMB to achieve the new target.
Kachikwu, described Nigerian Content as the future of the industry. According to him, “It doesn’t matter how much money we make, how much gas we produce or alternative fossils we produce; if we do not ensure that a lot of that is captured locally in terms of benefits, we have no stake.” Commenting on NCDMB’s strategies for addressing noncompliance with provisions of the Nigerian Content Act by some companies, the minister said the focus should not be on identifying defaulters and penalizing them. According to him, NCDMB should develop corrective measures and understand why some companies fail to comply.
“The board needs to develop corrective visitation programmes to institutions that have not complied. Sit down with them and do an audit of the issues and jointly develop models, giving specific timelines for delivery and create incentives for those who comply and penalties for those who blatantly refuse to comply,” he said. On industry’s capacity building initiatives, the minister directed NCDMB, the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) to collaborate and develop a plan for training youths who are involved in pipeline vandalism, illegal refining and other illicit activities in the oil and gas industry. The training programme will focus on improving their skillsets and getting them to embrace productive activities. He said, “We need to find a middle-level specialized system of training people in the oil industry, a system that is not necessarily tied to degrees.
We need to capture a lot of those in the hinterlands who have finished WAEC or their first diploma and don’t know where to go to but have some unique skillsets. We need to bring them to finishing schools.” Kachikwu also directed the NCDMB, PTDF and PTI to use existing industry facilities in Port Harcourt and Kaduna to carry out the planned trainings and other bespoke capacity building programmes for industry stakeholders. “We have to provide local competency trainings, relying on support from oil companies in terms of investment and overseas faculty,” he said. In similar move and taking more proactive measures, the Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN) has initiated a fresh move to create a synergy with tertiary institutions in the country to widen the scope of training in the industry. President, Dr Afe Mayowa, who called for domestication of training in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria explained that domestication of training of oil and gas workers would increase the chances of making graduates of Nigerian university employable. He gave the advice at a media conference in Lagos to sensitise stakeholders on the forthcoming maiden edition of the Nigeria Education Summit of the association slated to push for elaborate training program in the industry
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