Five years after no Nigerian diver had emerged as air diving supervisor; two divers working on Nigerian waters have completed the mandatory 200-panel hour required by the International Maritime Contractors Association (IMCA) under the supervision of the chief inspector of diving (CID), Mr Julius Ugwala.
The divers- Mr Dacodsta Moradien, a Nigerian and Mr Louis Stefanus De Jager, a South African- working on board a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel at the EBOK field attained the 200-panel hours last week, years after they became divers.
The 200- panel hour is the practical component required of Trainee Air Diving Supervisors (TADS) by IMCA before their final certification as supervisors.
Up until the time of filing this report, Nigeria had just nine diving supervisors; a situation, which the CID said, limits Nigerian divers from taking up available jobs.
“Dacosta waited for this opportunity since 2014, it is exciting to be a part of his success story. The panel hour is compulsory. You need to go offshore to get 200 hours on the panel. Until you get your hours, you cannot go for your final exams or get your certificate.
“It is difficult in Nigeria because the expatriates are afraid that if Nigerians start developing, one day, they will not have jobs here again, so, they use systematic racism to deny them the hours because IMCA said, it is only in the discretion of the supervisor to do that. The company can ask the supervisor but it is only on the discretion of the supervisor if he wants to do that. If not, he can just bring up excuses.
“This is what people like me suffered in my day but as the Chief Inspector of Diving, I will love to have Nigerian divers get their panel hours. We only have nine supervisors and currently, five of them have moved on, they are no more supervising and we only have four left,”he stressed.
“Of the four, two are in Escravos. We cannot be everywhere at the same time. We have more than 150 trainee supervisors that are waiting for panel hours for more than five years now but no opportunity for them. Local Content is critical and so we must develop more Nigerians in that area.
“With the COVID-19, if the Oil and Gas industry had not brought in foreigners, the entire industry would have been shut down because two or four Nigerian divers cannot match the entire oil field. Granting panel hours will salvage the industry and keep the money within Nigeria. It is a big setback and we have to correct it as soon as possible”, Ugwala stated.
Ugwala said the establishment of the Diving Advisory Board is to help in shaping the industry rightly as the board, through its engagement with various organisations, prioritises the employment and capacity building for indigenous divers.