BY BAYO AMODU, Abuja
The Shell Petroleum Development Company Joint Venture (SPDC JV), has established Nigeria’s first Centre of Excellence in Marine and Offshore Engineering at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The multi-million-naira facility was set up as part of the company’s contribution to top quartile learning and research in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
The Centre is stocked with modern hydrodynamic equipment and accessories for post graduate education in related disciplines including Marine Engineering (Power Plant), Naval Architecture as well as Offshore and Subsea Engineering.
Apart from building the capacity of teachers, the Centre of Excellence, will run 18-month Master’s and Diploma programmes.
The academic package covers classroom lecture, practical sessions, term project modules and a six-month internship in the oil and gas industry.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the centre, the managing director of SPDC and Country Chairman, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, said the company is not unaware of the challenges faced in the oil and gas industry.
“At SPDC, we recognise that the challenges in our industry–in Nigeria and globally–provide us opportunities for participation and innovation. This collaboration with the Rivers State University will serve as a graduate studies centre and develop quality graduates for potential employment in the oil and gas industry and related sectors,” Okunbor said.
The Rivers State Governor, Barr. Nyesom Wike, who was represented at the inauguration ceremony by the Commissioner of Education, Professor Kaniye Ebeku, said: “This project will help RSU realise its entrepreneurial target. Unemployable graduates would become employable from this Centre which will help to produce experts to man sensitive institutions in Nigeria. It is good that SPDC is not only donating and quitting but is staying to support its growth.”
On his part, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Blessing Didia said the facility has strengthened one of the University’s key objectives to produce top-level manpower for development, and that the University was proud to produce the first African Professor of Marine Engineering, Professor Bob Manuel.
“The University is indeed grateful to SPDC JV for the monumental gesture and the demonstration of corporate responsibility,” the Vice Chancellor added.
Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (and alumnus of RSU), Engineer Simbi Wabote, commended SPDC’s contribution to the university and to growing the capabilities of Nigerians in the oil and gas industry. He promised to enable NCDMB’s collaboration with the Centre.
SPDC’s General Manager External Relations, Igo Weli, said SPDC would continue to implement developmental projects in the Niger Delta, and appealed to the people of the region to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.
A Board of Trustees made up of members from the Rivers State University and SPDC will administer the joint venture’s annual subvention to the Centre of Excellence.
It would be recalled that in 2012, the SPDC JV established a Centre of Excellence in Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Benin, which offers three specialised postgraduate degrees in Geology, Geophysics and Petroleum Engineering.
The SPDC JV has also endowed active Professional Chairs in six Nigerian universities. In 2016, a Chair in Light Weight Automobile Engine Development was established at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources in Effurun, Delta State, which is expected to contribute to the growth of local content in Nigeria’s automobile industry.
Also, research at the Shell Professional Chair in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt in 2012 produced the Optiwell well-bore stability software.
Use of the software has significantly reduced drilling time as well as costs associated with mud loss and other drilling challenges.