By Brown Ukananefimoni
The Petroleum Training Institute, PTI, was set up by the enactment of Act No. 37 of 1972, and subsequently amended by Act No. 52 of 1975 and PTI Act CAP P16, 2004.
Consequently, the Act vested powers in the institute to train all levels of technical manpower required in the oil and gas sector.
For over four decades, the PTI in tandem with its mandate as enshrined in the Act setting it up has provided programmes of instruction and research in oil and gas technology for the training of technical manpower needed for oil production.
This has led to the development of skilled technicians, technologists, certified personnel, continuing professional development and skills acquisition training for youths in the oil-producing communities of the Niger Delta.
The Institute is proudly fulfilling its mandate as enshrined in the Act.
Since inception, it has turned out over 55,000 technicians and technologists besides tooling and retooling of companies’ personnel.
It is impressive to note that there is no oil company without a PTI product in its employ.
The Institute attained the summit of its operations until recent changes and advancement in technology in the oil and gas sector, coupled with industry apathy towards the Institute.
When it became imperative to reposition the institute to be a global player in the oil and gas industry, Prof. Sunny Esayegbemu Iyuke was appointed as the Principal and Chief Executive of PTI, and charged with the mandate to reposition the institute.
A Professor of Chemical and Process Engineering, a Nanotechnology expert and a former Head of Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering of the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, Prof Iyuke has distinguished himself.
On assumption of office 42 months ago, Prof. Iyuke was received with a standing ovation and wide acceptance by stakeholders in the institute.
Along with his formidable, committed and dedicated staff, he settled down to work with a strong determination to transform the institution to a world-class petroleum institute.
The Institute has recorded unprecedented feats in many areas.
The priority of Prof Iyuke was to define a new learning culture by digitizing the operations of the Institute.
The institute has successfully deployed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in its operations, ranging from application to registration modules of all academic programmes.
To boot, transcripts generation has now been automated and students can now view their semester results without visiting the examinations and records division of the Institute.
The quality of any institution of learning is reflected by the content of information across a wide spectrum of research.
In realisation of this fact, the library services have been fully automated through the use of Posca Host and Alexandra.
Digitized books in different research fields are subscribed to. A well-furnished ICT e-library centre now hosts state-of-the-art facilities that enable students and staff to access digital contents, in addition to the books which are catalogued and circulated using the Alexandra platform.
To sustain the digitization of PTI, tagged DiPTI, a new baseline Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT) programme at the National Diploma level has been established to develop a fit-for-purpose workforce for the digital age.
The programme has been accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
In recognition of the fact that the Institute cannot operate in isolation if it must attain the status of a global brand, Prof. Iyuke opened up the institute for collaborations and partnerships with national and international institutions.
He has engaged the following institutions at different levels in an attempt to upscale the institute’s operations.
University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Calgary, Canada, James Fisher and Sons PLC (JFD), Aberdeen in Scotland, United Kingdom.
Discussions are still ongoing to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with these institutions.
At the home front, the institute is in collaboration with the University of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State. Product of the relationship is the mounting of a Post Higher National Diploma (Post HND) in Engineering programmes leading to the award of Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) degree.
About 265 students are currently enrolled in the programme.
As oil exploration moves into deep waters, and to follow the tide, the Offshore Technology and Energy Centre (OTEC) was conceptualized to develop world-class professional divers that can dive 50 metres and beyond.
The centre is expected to produce bespoke and people focused on human capacity development, engineering and technical services for the oil and gas sector.
One of the institute’s mandate is to carry out research, seminars and conferences related to oil exploration and production.
Unfortunately, over the years, research activities have been at its lowest ebb.
Prof Iyuke, who has over 309 research publications to his credit, realises the importance of Research and Development,R and D, and revivified the Directorate of Research and Development.
Currently, the R and D is working on 15 research proposals for the oil and gas industry.
Under the Directorate, the Institute recently organised an International Conference on “Hydrocarbon and Science Technology” (ICHST) themed “Oil and Beyond Oil” with over 250 participants in attendance.
Before Prof Iyuke assumed duty, some institute’s infrastructure were either in a sorry state or battered. It is amazing to see the transformation of these infrastructures.
Visitors to the Institute are astonished at the massive infrastructural developments within the period under review.
The institute is glittering like the Thame-of-Westminster, with a 24-hour uninterrupted power supply to the admiration of stakeholders.
The following developmental projects are either completed or ongoing: Remodelling and rehabilitation of the administrative block, library building, and the reconstruction of the academic block, which was fallen-in at the inception of this present management.
The academic block has been transformed from an ancient to modern block with well-spaced offices, recreation and revamping of the swimming pool that was like the Dead Sea for almost two decades, to a functional Olympic size swimming pool for offshore survival training for students and sporting activities.
Plans are underway to upgrade the PTI diving school to an internationally and IMCA recognized school by a consortium of NNPC and SNEPCo.
It is expedient to mention that collaborative discussion is currently going on with James Fisher and Sons PLC (JFD), a leading world underwater capability company in Aberdeen, Scotland and the Petroleum Training Institute, on the establishment of an internationally recognized diving school. The objectives of these discussions are for training, offering certifications and re-certifications of divers in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large.
This consultative discussion is anchored on a proposed funding initiative by the NNPC and SNEPCo. Renovation of male and female students’ hostels and the retrieval and renovation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) female hostel from failed contract.
In line with the vision of launching the Institute into the global oil and gas industry, the need for a befitting Conference Centre cannot be overemphasized.
As a result, there was a massive refitting and rehabilitation of the Conference Hall, two blocks of 96 chalets, restaurant and other training blocks in the Conference Centre Complex.
The Institute’s Osubi Campus was lying fallow before now. The Campus has been recovered from its sinking state with the construction of inner roads, electrification and connection of the Campus to the national grid.
The Skills Development Academy (SDA) which comprises Skills Acquisition, Corrosion Centre and Fire Academy has been established and is currently in full operation at the Osubi Campus.
These feats could not have been achieved without the continued support from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
We also acknowledge the support of other relevant ministries and parastatals of government.
*Ukananefimoni, Deputy Director, Public Affairs of PTI, writes from Effurun