THE recently passed Nigerian Content Act by the National Assembly got a boost recently as History was recorded in the Nigerian oil and gas industry as key stakeholders gathered to witness the laying of the first ever set of made in Nigerian Oil and Gas grade steel pipes in ExxonMobil’s Edop_Idoho Offshore field after over 50 years of industry operations in the country.
The Helical Submerged Arc Welded pipes were manufactured by SCC Mill Abuja and coated by Adamac Pipes Coating and Services Limited.
The event, which was a landmark in the implementation of Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act was celebrated at the quayside of Onne Free Trade Zone and atop Crawler barge at Edop-Idoho field.
At Onne FTZ, the pipes were loaded on a vessel transporting them to the field and at Crawler barge, officials of Saipem Nigeria, the contractor to ExxonMobil Nigeria exhibited the marine operations for welding and laying the pipes on the sea bed.
In his speech at the quayside of Onne FTZ, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Ernest Nwapa explained that the deployment of the pipes was of national economic significance and a confirmation that inputs sourced from Nigeria can be successfully utilized in hi_tech operations of the oil and gas industry.
He said it was also proof that the 24 inches by 30 kilometers pipes which ExxonMobil bought from SCC were not dumped in the ocean as insinuated by some critics.
Shell, Agip and Chevron had in the past month advanced their order placements of about 100 kilometers of line pipes to SCC and according to Nwapa, this will sustain the employment of Nigerians in the mill and create more opportunities for training.
According to him, “Nigerian workers must be happy because once the industry begins to accept made in Nigeria products and place work in Nigerian pipe mills, it will just be a matter of time for tens of thousands of jobs to be generated directly and indirectly from operations of SCC and other existing facilities.”
Nwapa expressed hope that the deployment of the pipes and sustained patronage of SCC will unlock the flood gate of other prospective investors who will set up other pipe mills with alternative specifications like longitudinal welded and seamless pipes to meet some operators’ preference for smaller diameter line pipes.
He said the event should clear all doubts in the minds of investors in pipe mills and other critical facilities and infrastructure about the Federal Government’s determination to implement the Nigerian Content Act.
“We expect that you should be emboldened to progress with investments in pipe mills, threading plants, fabrication yard upgrades, machine shops and other facilities with the assurance that the NCDMB will insist on utilizing any capacity in Nigeria before importing pipes or products,” he said.
Nwapa also noted that Jiangsu Yulong Steel Pipe of China is at the point of acquiring a site location to set up a 250,000 ton Longitudinal Submerged Arc welded (LSAW) pipe mill in a coastal location with natural gas supply in its proximity.
He said NCDMB and Shell are also collaborating to comprehensively study the options for optimum deployment of mills in the country based on the future demand of the Nigerian and regional market with the Gas Master Plan infrastructure in mind.
The Executive Secretary commended ExxonMobil for pioneering the placement of orders for line pipes in SCC in 2006, even when it was only a directive that all pipes used in the industry be procured in_country.
He added that “Without the will and technical backing from the ExxonMobil team, we will not be making Oil and Gas pipes in Nigeria today given the lethargy other international oil companies employed to avoid placing orders in the mill.”
Nwapa stated that the model used by ExxonMobil to ensure that industry quality and safety standards were met had been used in creating capacity in other areas like Oil Country Tubular Goods threading and will also be adapted when the building the new pipe mills starts.
In his speech, the Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil Nigeria, Mr. Cyril Odu recalled that when the company got involved with SCC Mill, it had only produced double submerged arc welded helical pipes, which were suitable as water pipes, but not for oil and gas applications.
He said, “Working extensively with SCC Mill and National Petroleum Investment Management Services over the next four years, Mobil Producing Nigeria was able to produce new specifications for DSAWH pipes that would meet international standards for low pressure and shallow water applications in the oil and gas industry.”
In his comments, the representative of the Group General Manager, NAPIMS, Mr. Usain Tahir hailed the deployment of the pipes by ExxonMobil, which he described as a major plus for the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act.
He assured that NAPIMS is in alignment with the aspirations of government with regard to the implementation of the Act, and would collaborate with NCDMB to ensure that Nigerian facilities are patronized.
The Nigeria Content Development policy is a major aspect of government’s transformation agenda and has the potential of launching Nigeria’s industrialization driven by the huge spend and mega projects in the oil and gas industry.