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Trust, integrity, key to attract funding in gas pipeline project… Okwuosa

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Mr Emeka Okwuosa, is the Group Chief Executive Officer, of Oilserv, which recently won the Ajaokuta – Kaduna- Kano (AKK) pipeline contract, in partnership with Oando. In this chat with the media, at the Offshore Technology Conference, at Houston, Texas, he sheds more light on the nature of the contract and giant strides of Oilserv, a foremost indigenous engineering, procurement and construction company. Sebastine Obasi was there.

Emeka Okwuosa

You have been recently awarded a new Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline contract which is 614 kilometres and worth $2.8billion. What gives you an edge among your peers in terms of pipeline technology? Why Oilserv

Oilserv is not about singing our praises. It is about fact. Oilserv was set up on a sound basis and principle. That’s the basis of sound knowledge of engineering and clear plan to grow technology and grow the company organically.

When we started in 1995, it was a very small company.  It was only myself and one other employee and we slowly build it up. Now, we built it up by re-investing whatever money we made and acquiring latest technology. It’s not just about technology acquisition but by knowing the principles of these technologies.  By my background, I am a cerebral engineer and I worked in 12 different countries before I came back to Nigeria. I was principally focused on developing engineering capacity.

Along the line, we moved on to look at the best way of achieving the engineering, procurement and construction, EPC, work we have. We later introduced the welding works.  Welding is at the core of pipeline construction and the major threat in welding is the fact that using traditional welding system which is the manual welding system, will involve welders association. Some of them are not there to work but to create problems and you can’t control the quality of output too. We moved on to develop automatic and semi-automatic welding system where it is more like being in a production line in a factory. We trained our own staff and they became the welders. Because it is not manual welding but automatic, we are not bound by certain rules of the welder association.

With this, we are able to do as much as 25 joints a day. Manual welding can’t do more than six joints a day. That’s how we sped up. The other technology is our Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) technology system. You may realize that in building pipelines, you cross rivers, creeks, and all kinds of barriers. If it is water, you will dredge it, drop the pipeline, and cover it up. But by doing that, you disturb the water system, damage the environment and you may muddle the water. If you don’t restate it very well, you create additional problem down the road which can be erosion of the water bed.

We developed a system where we can drill from one bank to the other without touching the bed of the river.  In crossing roads, in the old day, we have to cut the road and imagine cutting an eight lane road. Today, we do cross-boring system by going from one end to the other without disturbing vehicular movement on the road. These gave us advantage over others. We train students and graduates and we invest in human resources.  We won the AKK because it was through a bidding process and we came out best.

We are the only company in Nigeria today that can deliver such project, the rest can’t. We are the first indigenous firm to graduate from being a construction firm to full EPC company.  To be a full EPC company is expensive. It requires investment, it requires dedication.  If you look at AKK, you realized that we got the first section which is the most important. If you don’t get the first section right, you don’t have a pipeline.

The AKK project is Oilserv/Oando consortium, what’s the role of Oando in the project because it is not an engineering firm

You have to fully understand that this project is not just an EPC project but it’s a contractor-financed project. You go into consortium for a particular reason. Oando is a partner to Oilserv while Oilserv is the principal EPC company. I am talking from the view of EPC, Oando does not build pipelines. We are in a consortium because it’s contractor-financed and it gives us more leverage. Oando has always had concessions from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to develop, for example, the gas pipeline system in Lagos, through their company called Gaslink.

cts, we also like to support smaller projects which would in time grow into bigger, more reputable and more sustainable entities.

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