By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
THE Petroleum Technology Development Fund has said it is collaborating with the Nigerian Institute of Welding to end the dominance by foreign welders and fabricators in the construction jobs in the nationâ€™s oil and gas sector by the year 2010.
This position, it stated, is buttressed by the flag-off of the Train-the-Trainer component of the Weldersâ€™ Training and Certification Programme (WTCP), on Friday, for about 20 local welders who would travel to South Africa to train under the sponsorship of the Fund.
The Executive Secretary of the PTDF, Engr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma, said the capacity building milestone would impact on the fabrication capabilities of the nationâ€™s oil and gas industry.
He noted that the training was in line with the Federal governmentâ€™s directive which states that starting from 2006 all third party services (NDT, mechanical tests, PWHT,) certification of welding procedures and welders must be carried out in Nigeria .
The government also directed that the Nigerian Institute of Welding must certify all such tests in collaboration with international accreditation bodies. According to the PTDF boss, the lack of international certification such as the International Welding Practitioner and the International Welding Specialist certificates had been the major hindrance for Nigerian welders and fabricators who want to operate in the oil and gas industry.
â€œThis phenomenon has led to the influx of the foreign welders and technicians, mainly from the Philippines and even neighbouring West African country, who have taken over the jobs that could have gone to Nigerians,â€ he lamented.
He further observed that with the multi-billion dollar projects such as the West African Gas Pipeline project and the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline project, initiated by the Federal Government, there was no better time to train local welders to take advantage of the developments.
Also speaking at the event, the President of the NIW, Mr. Solomon Edebiri, said the instituteâ€™s target was to take over the welding and fabrication element of the oil and gas sector by 2010.
He said, â€œBy the end of 2010, we will have more than 2000 highly skilled and qualified welders with international certification ready to stamp their imprints on the nationâ€™s welding and fabrication industry, especially for the oil and gas sector.â€
Edebiri explained that the 20 successful Nigerians were put through a very rigorous selection exercise and picked through a transparent merit-based process for the IWP and IWS training.
â€œThe expectation therefore is that upon successful completion of the respective programmes, they will be fully equipped and would have met the international certification requirements, which had been a major deficiency for many local welders,â€ he said.
Darma also noted that the conception of the Welders Training and Certification Programme, which the TTT is a component, lay in the an MoU signed between Nigeria and Norway in 2000 under in which the Local Content Development in the nationâ€™s oil and gas industry was a major item. He said, â€œAs part of this MoU, a study (Enhancement of Local Content in the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria) was commissioned in 2002 to determine the parameters and develop a framework for implementing the MoU, which resulted in a report: the INTSOK report.
â€œThe INTSOK report identified the fabrication sector as possessing the highest potential for local content contribution yet, it is one of the least developed sectors in Nigeria .â€
He said based on those findings, the Fund in conjunction with the NNPCâ€™s National Content Development unit conceived the WTCP, amongst other interventions, with the aim of building welding capacity in order to fill some of the gaps identified in the INTSOK report.
â€œThe WCTP is therefore one of the key programmes under the PTDFâ€™s capacity building initiatives to train and certify a sizable number of welders with diverse skills to enable the implementation of governmentâ€™s directive on local content development,â€ he explained.
The PTDF boss said the specific needs analysis for the train-the-trainer programme based on the observations from the pilot phase and other consultative interactions indicate a need to train at least 20 persons to International Welding Practitioner (IWP) and International Welding Specialist (IWS) levels.
He said further that 10 persons would be trained to the International Welding Technologist/Engineer (IWT/E) levels, adding that thus aspect of the training was in collaboration with the NIW using facilities of the Southern African Institute of Welding in Johannesburg .