By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
THE Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) has commenced consultative and collaborative visits to major stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, towards developing an effective and sustainable platform for partnership in accelerated human capacity development.
According to a statement, Friday, signed by the Head, Press and Public Relations of the Fund, Mr. Kalu Otisi, this is not only for the purpose of actualising the Nigerian Content aspirations of the Federal Government, but also to ensure that scholars of PTDF Overseas Training Programmes are engaged in relevant operational and management sectors of the industry.
The Executive Secretary of PTDF Engr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma, who led the management team of PTDF to the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) made a case for SON to expand its regime of standards regulation to include setting and monitoring standards of proficiency for the engagement of personnel into the oil and gas industry.
This according to him will check the continued proliferation of skilled and semi-skilled expatriates in Nigeria â€™s oil and gas industry to the disadvantage of highly trained Nigerian scholars of PTDF Overseas Scholarship Scheme.
He said, â€œPart of our programme is to sponsor people to highly rated Universities specialising in oil and gas studies abroad. Unfortunately when they come back after the training which is usually very expensive, some are not engaged in the industry.
â€œFor every M.SC scholar we spend about 25,000 pounds and for Ph.D with three years of study, we spend about 100,000 pounds per scholar. So we spend a lot of money trying to develop the capacity of Nigerians to occupy various positions in the oil and gas industry. Yet when they come back after their training they are not engaged by the industryâ€.
The Executive Secretary said SON as a strategic stakeholder should assist PTDF in finding out why this is so. â€œI always wonder whether there is standard for people to be employed in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria ? Whether it is being complied with during employment by international oil companies operating in Nigeria ? Whether the foreigners working in the international oil companies have complied with the requisite standards for them to come and work in the oil and gas industry? Whether the standard of these foreigners is higher than those we train? Whether there are certain requirements of the oil and gas industry which we are not addressing? Is it that these scholars we produce who are products of highly rated universities abroad do not meet the standard?â€
He said this is even more perplexing when considered against the overwhelming evidence that PTDF scholars are very much sought after by the same oil majors for their foreign operations. â€œTwo years ago seven PTDF scholars were offered employment by foreign oil companies in their overseas operations before completing their programmes at the Imperial College London. A PTDF scholar at the Aberdeen University set an academic standard that had not been recorded by the University in the last 100 yearsâ€.
Director-General of Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Dr. John Ndanusa Akanya said SON has a responsibility of certifying some of the systems in the oil and gas industry to ensure that the Local Content Initiative of the Federal Government are realised.
The Executive Secretary of PTDF and his team also visited the Energy Commission of Nigeria where they were received by the Director-General Professor Abubakar Sani Sambo.
The Fund is seeking collaboration with the Commission in funding oil and gas related research programmes for theÂ development of indigenous technologies in the petroleum industry, development of cost effective gas technologies, development of improved environmental technology for oil and gas management and development of new and enhanced technology for oil recovery in deep offshore, marginal fields and frontier basins.
The Director-General of Energy Commission of Nigeria Professor Sambo said the Commission will partner with the Fund in promoting the development of adequate manpower for the energy sector. He however advised the Fund to also emphasise on energy conservation programmes such as renewable energy, solar, wind and hydro energy sources in the training programmes of the Fund.