By Yemie Adeoye
IN an effort to improve the living conditions of people in its host communities, Exxonmobil affiliate companies in Nigeria has stated that it invested about $280 million over the last decade on strategic and sustainable community investments in healthcare, education and capacity building initiatives to help support the governmentâ€™s objectives of diversifying Nigeriaâ€™s economic base even as it urges sound government polices for the growth of the oil and gas sector.
Chairman, Managing Director of the Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Mr. Mark Ward dropped this hint while deliver a paper titled â€˜Maximising the positive impact of oil activities in other economic sectorsâ€™ at the just concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) 2010 conference in Abuja.
According to him capacity building projects and initiatives to promote small businesses are the key to sustainable development, especially in the Niger Delta region, and as such emphasis is on ensuring that apart from skills acquisition, the beneficiaries understand the fundamentals of business practice and are able to establish sustainable ventures.
â€œIn recent months Nigeria has seen recovery of its oil production capacity and prospects for additional growth which presents yet another opportunity for the Federal Government to diversify the nationâ€™s economic base, increase employment rate and grow the nationâ€™s GDP.â€
Ward stated further that the oil and gas sector plays a major role in helping the government achieve these goals, both in terms of the oil and gas exploration/production or the significant revenues accruing to government for development of the reserves, or contributing to the improvement of socio_economic infrastructure.â€
â€œWhichever area is involved, a coordinated and consistent harnessing of the oil and gas sector is essential to sufficiently strengthen Nigeriaâ€™s economy and generate value for the Nigerian people. To achieve this shared goal of sustained growth, effective public and private sector collaborations must be coordinated at every level of Nigerian society.
Corporate organisations and government must work cooperatively to make it happen. We will need investments and innovation from the industry.Â Also we will need sound and stable government policies that lay the framework for sustained growth in all sectors. In the post amnesty period, sustainable human and industrial capacity development is a critical plank on which the nationâ€™s future development dependsâ€.
Speaking further on the efforts of his company to comply with the federal governt Nigerian content initiative Ward stated that his national Content Strategy comprises three key elements: work force development, supplier/vendor development and strategic community investments.
â€œThe benefits derived there from are mutually beneficial to all parties: for Nigeria it means the building of a skilled workforce and viable industry that is globally competitive; the communities benefit from improved infrastructure, capacity building and education; and for us we have access to a pool of highly trained employees and an expanded and competent supplier base that help ExxonMobil affiliates provide value to the federal government and millions of Nigerians.
In the area of workforce development, decades ago we established a Technical Training Centre in Eket, Akwa Ibom state to train and produce a pool of skilled personnel for different aspects of the oil and gas industry.
This has been instrumental to increasing the pool of skilled workers in the industry which would be beneficial not only to ExxonMobil affiliates but to the entire oil and gas industry in Nigeria. To date over 600 personnel have graduated from the training center and Mobil Producing Nigeria has hired at least 500 of these graduates .
The center is projected to produce 500 graduates over the next five years which would provide a constant supply of talent to keep up with the needs of the industry. The importance of a skilled workforce that provides a global competitive edge cannot be overemphasized.â€
â€œRegarding supplier development, what used to happen previously when we commenced operations anywhere is that we would have to bring in everything that was needed _ machines, heavy duty equipment, operators etc. We are proud of what we have been able to achieve over the years working with local vendors and building capacity, to the point where not only is the volume of their domestic business increased but they garner useful experience in meeting our specifications which makes them better able to qualify for international contracts.
One example of this is the $80 million (N12 billion) contract commissioned to two local firms, Dorman Long and NigerdockÂ to fabricate and install wellhead platforms for our satellite field development projects. Prior to the award of the contract this service was wholly provided by foreign firms staffed by foreign workers. However working closely with the two local firms the job is being executed with the result that both companies can now effectively render similar service to other oil companies locally and internationally.â€