By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
…Says labour may endanger Nigerian content growth
With the aggressive drive by the Federal government to stimulate investment and local participation in the oil and gas industry, an international oil and gas services company, Vallorec Mannemann Oil and Gas company has disclosed that it spent over N4 billion to invest in the manufacture of seamless high-end casing and tubing steel grades and connections for the oil and gas industry.
Chairman of the company, Mr. Charles Osezua, told journalists in Abuja that the company was dedicated towards enriching the Nigerian content in the oil and gas industry, adding that in the past the industry had to import billions of naira worth of threaded pipes used in the industry.
He stated that, “As the world’s only manufacturer of proven gas-tight solid expandable tubulars, we have honed our ability to thread the most complex of connection designs, through maintaining high standards of quality, safety and regard for the environment. This is the quality we are bringing to Nigeria.”
VMOG, which operates the VAM Manufacturing Plant in the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, also announced that it has recently trained 25 Nigerians on various aspects of oil and gas industry pipe making processes in United Kingdom, France and Germany.
He said, “We are pleased to state that VMOG is in the final process of transferring majority shares to Nigerian shareholders. Since the commissioning of the VAM ONNE threading plant, with an investment of about N4 billion in 2009, V&M have embarked on an aggressive technology transfer and in this regard, have trained about 25 Nigerians abroad and more than 50 Nigerians on specialised plant operations and technology applications in the country. Consequently, over 95 per cent of our staffers are Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of VMOG, Mr. Eugene Fogli has said current efforts by organized labour, especially members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Port Harcourt Zone, to forcefully unionise workers in the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, may not augur well for the local content drive in the country.
He noted that, “Since we started about two years ago, we have invested billions in building our site and training Nigerians to run such sophisticated, high-end connection pipe making, and we have worked to transfer this unique technology that hitherto does not exist in the country. But the labour people are threatening to turn everything upside down.”
He said VMOG was currently embroiled in legal battles with the association over plans by the association to effect the forceful unionization of its staff, stating that the company was covered by the moratorium it signed to operate for ten years unencumbered by such matter.
He noted that the union has resorted to threats of violence against some companies located within the Free Zone, stressing that the Federal government should intervene to protect the rights of workers and investors in the zone.
According to Fogli, however, the company is focused on training Nigerian technicians as well as high-level managers that are expected to take over sensitive operational aspects from foreign experts in the nearest future.
“We cannot afford not to train our staff very well because the technology we are using is world class where there is no margin for errors. Simple error will easily result in death and we will not want to lose our Nigerian experts. Nigeria does not have the facilities to train these experts and that is why we commit huge resources into training of our workers in France, Germany or the United Kingdom, which have the best facilities for this type of technical job,” he said.
Commenting on the market factors, the company’s Sales General Manager, Christophe Huot said: “The company currently produces 15,000 metric tonnes of pipes but has the capacity to produce more if some of the market factors are resolved. Part of the market forces is the slow level of contracts awards and the demands of the oil companies.