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PETAN: Nigeria Must Take Advantage of Opportunities in Oil Industry

The Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) has urged Nigerians in the oil and gas industry to build capacity in order to take full advantage of the growing opportunities in the sector.

PETAN, an association of Nigerian Indigenous Technical Oilfield service companies in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil industry has over 89 organisations as members and encourages the full participation of Nigerians in the entire spectrum of the industry.

In an interview, with THISDAY, the Chairman of the organisation, Bank-Anthony Okoroafor, who spoke on the sidelines of the just-concluded Nigerian Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair (NOGOF) in Bayelsa, noted that if the country must wean itself off the dominance of the oil industry by foreigners, operators should be ready take the lead in building capabilities.

He said: “Anybody interested in the oil and gas industry should be here because all the opportunities in the downstream, midstream and upstream are all laid bare here. Now, all we need to do is to build capacity and capability to be able to take part in those businesses.

“The NCDMB has presented the opportunities, but you can take a horse to the stream, you can’t force it to drink water. The opportunities here are for the grabbing.

“PETAN has built capacity over the years in terms of personnel, technical, operations and finance. We are ready and we are looking out for the jobs.”

On insinuations that advertisements for contracts in the industry were opaque and not transparent, Okoroafor, an engineer, maintained that the industry has always been open, since jobs are given on the basis of know-how.

“The industry does not single-source where they have capabilities. They only do that when there’s only one company having that capability. There is no underhand dealings in this business. Your capacity and capabilities speak for you,” he added.

To ensure quality in the industry, the chairman explained that the process to validate all its members was ongoing with the issuance of a seal of confidence to its members.

“PETAN’s seal of confidence is on track. Now, Bureau Veritas has written to all the companies and sent out all the requirements. We are waiting for veritas to start visiting the companies for the audit” he noted.

He bemoaned the seeming lack of attention being paid to some areas of the industry, stressing that industry operators must begin to see it as whole.

“For the past 10 years, nothing much has happened in the deep water. It’s time to unlock the deepwater opportunities, whether its in fabrication, well construction, pipelines or production.

“How do we integrate 600 million Africans who live in darkness. How do we use our gas to energise Africa, rather than this rent-seeking economy.

“People are moving away from fossil fuel to electric. Look at what is happening all over the world. Look at all the gas in Africa. We need to look at how to make it an economic engine of growth for the entire Africa and that’s the focus. The key is involving all the stakeholders” he explained.

In his comments, a former chairman of PETAN and member, Board of Trustees (BoT), Mr Paul Egbe, insisted that until a deliberate strategy to embrace the technology and seek a deeper knowledge of the industry is developed, Nigeria would continue to play second fiddle to foreigners.

He said: “An industry that produces 90 percent of national revenue and its contribution to the GDP is less than 8.5 percent is pathetic. Then you ask why are we still where we are.

“One of the major problems is that the industry is highly technical and it’s technology that drives investment and the knowledge base of the industry.

“Technology is restricted worldwide and when those who founded the industry came here, they didn’t expose Nigerians to this high level technology and our leadership has failed to recognise, that first and foremost, we have to pursue the knowledge of the industry.

” If we do that, everything will fall in place. There are core technologies needed to run the industry. These technologies are in the hands of the owners of the industry and they will never release it to you without a fight or a premium. We need the knowledge to complement the revenue from the industry” he maintained.

Mr Ranti Omole, Spokesman of PETAN, who harped on the need for more such forums in the oil and gas industry, where stakeholders are made aware of such opportunities, pledged that PETAN would continue to help members grow capacity with a view to increasing local content in the industry.

He commended the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for hosting the event and building a 17-storey office headquarters in Bayelsa, using only Nigerian contractors.