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Rise of Nigerian Oil & Gas Independents

…Partnership opportunities with PTDF for the future One of the effects of globalization is that events in one part of the world have the potential…

…Partnership opportunities with PTDF for the future

One of the effects of globalization is that events in one part of the world have the potential to profoundly affect people on the other side of the planet. Looking back a few years ago, the development of Africa’s oil and gas resources was led primarily by the International Oil Companies (IOCs). That is now changing as the lOCs have been joined by dynamic independents, service providers and National Oil Companies (NOCs). This is a welcome development as the changing dynamics of the industry have given rise to a spate of Nigerian independents. Although these independent companies have been present within Nigeria’s oil and gas sector for a significant period of time, they only came into prominence in the last decade following the allocation of certain marginal fields to local companies.

This began in 2003 and more recently with the divestment of key oil blocks to indigenous companies by some multinationals like Shell, TOTAL and Exxon Mobil. The six prominent independents are Conoil Plc., Seplat_Petroleum Development Company, South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO), First Hydrocarbon Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Green Energy International Limited. It is important to stress that apart from the Six(6) prominent Nigerian independents; there are several more like Eroton Exploration and Production, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production, Shoreline Natural Resources, Neconde, etc., emerging from the shadows of the IOCs.

Unfortunately, efforts made by the Federal Government to improve on the fortunes of oil and gas independents are yet to yield any meaningful results; as independent and marginal oil field companies accounted for 5.55% of Nigeria’s total crude oil and condensates production over a period of four months, from January to April 2017. The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Malkanti Baru said NNPC had set a 10-year timeframe for indigenous oil and gas companies operating in the country to increase their production from 10% to 50% of national production. He said this became necessary following the need for the indigenous firms to increase their footprint in the upstream sub-sector as was the case in the downstream.

However, it is worthy of mention that there is still a technical knowledge gap for the independent oil and gas companies. It is important that the necessary skills and know-how of Nigerians are developed and this can be achieved through conscious utilization of the capacity building initiatives of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund which is statutorily mandated to build capacity for the oil & gas industry.

The roles that PTDF as a game changer can play in order for the independents to be successful are as follows: Human capital development: Development of the critical mass of Nigerian professionals required to significantly contribute to exploration and production of Nigeria’s vast oil and gas reserves, through the PTDF Overseas (OSS) & Local (LSS) Scholarship Schemes. In addition, through the PTDF Endowment Chairs and other research programmes, cutting edge research will be carried out that would form the basis of developing indigenous technology in the oil and gas sector. The Fund will also promote the use of alternative and sustainable local materials in oil and gas exploration and production process.

National Institute of Petroleum Studies (NIPS), Kaduna coming on stream as a premier centre of excellence: The NIPS would boast of state of the art facilities and a conducive environment for learning and research when completed. The NIPS could also be transformed into a Premier Centre of Excellence on oil and gas related areas and also serve as Hub for developing would-be technical staff of the Independents. Centre for Skills Development & Training (CSDT), Port Harcourt to provide basic skills required in the oil and gas industry.

Industry collaboration and partnership development: Initiate Research partnerships with independent oil and gas companies, leveraging on their operational experience and joint funding to develop workable solutions to industry problems. Establishment of National Analytical Laboratories: The Fund would establish at-least two (2) high-tech analytical laboratories in strategic parts of the country in order to deepen Research and Development. This would promote excellence in the areas of analytical research and development, through the provision of sustainable upward- compatible equipment.

This is expected to go a long way in facilitating in-country research. PhD split site programme: In test running the transformation of PTDF Overseas Scholarship scheme to Local Scholarship Scheme (OSS to LSS) the Fund is pursuing a split-site PhD programme with its strategic partners abroad. This is aimed at fast-tracking the growth of academic skills, research initiatives and internationalization at relatively lesser cost.

Existing skills and strategic partnerships: PTDF will leverage on its strategic partners as well as the number and caliber of skills it has trained over the years through its Scholarship Schemes (Overseas & Local), Welders Training and Certification Programme, Skills Acquisition Programs and Software Training. In summary, there are other available opportunities for short term industry-based training programs, technical/vocational education and training, problem-solving researches for the industry, taylor-made programs amongst others. Overall PTDF could engage the independents as off-takers to the various training and research-based programmes of the Fund.

This piece was written by Rabi’ah Waziri-Adamu Manager Education & Training Dept, PTDF