How To Enhance Indigenous Participation In Nigerian Oil Sector

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Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital and Garden of Nigeria had remained a costly bride of prospecting oil firms in Nigeria because of its prime position as the hub of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Despite the militancy in the Niger Delta, Port Harcourt had since recuperated, as more prospecting oil firms are angling for a defined position in terms of business development in the city, while the existing ones are consolidating to catch up with the luxuriating business profile of the coastal city. One of the indigenous oil companies that is making a remarkable imprint in business development in the down-stream sector of the petroleum industry in Port Harcourt is Masters Energy, Oil and Gas Company Limited. The General Manager of the company, Mr. Collins Onyemelukwe recently shared the experiences of the company in Port Harcourt, since 2006, when it extended its frontiers to the city. According to the General Manager, Nigerians had taken over the down stream sector of the oil industry, and so “when you are dealing in a saturated business environment, you have to stabilise your buisness strategies to catch up with the business environment.” But the General Manager expressed dissatisfaction with the level of indigenous participation in the Nigerian petroleum industry, especially in the up-stream sector. Despite tactical reforms introduced by successive regimes in the country to promote indigenous participation in the sector, he said Nigerian oil economy, especially in the up stream sector had remained foreign dominated. As a mono economy whose primary source of foreign earning is oil, he regretted that Nigeria remains at the receiving end as it imports refined petroleum product for domestic consumption at very exorbitant cost. He attributed the inefficiencies in Nigeria oil sector management to many factors. One of the fundamental inhibitors of adroit indigenous participation in the Nigeria oil sector, according to him, is the dearth of specialised institutions of career development. With the growing emphasis on paper qualification in the country, he said, many Nigerian graduates especially in related disciplines to the oil sector, have fundamentally at the back of their mind to secure juicy jobs in the oil sector and not to develop competence in manpower and career development. “Nigerian engineers should be engineers in the real sense and be strategically involved in the development of the sector. More institutions should be established for specialised training in manpower development, while existing ones should not just be raising middle skilled workers but be improved upon to get involved in specialised training.” To enhance the local content and indigenisation policies of the federal government, he said, paper qualification should be discouraged and budding talents should be spotted and developed exclusively on areas of interest and excellence related to the oil sector. “Our problem is that we are not grooming people in those core areas of functional control, both at home and abroad. We don’t have enough manpower to take over, our level of competence in terms of high skilled manpower and expertise is still dismal. Young Nigerians who are in the oil sector should not be primarily concerned about making money, there projections should be directed on how to become indigenous expatriates and take over the sector in its entirety.” He also called on the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) to create the enabling environment to make existing refineries work while more should be established. He commended the NNPC for ongoing reforms, and emphsised a realistic improvement on past challenges. Speaking on the challenges of the company since its emergence into the already saturated business environment, he said, that the company is primarily faced with the challenges of infrastructure, such as good road, electricity and the water ways which are shallow to accommodate deeper vessels. However, he said, the company had as a mater of policy maintained an indigenous posture, as 100% of staff composition in Nigerian. Because of the volatility of its products, he said, the company is very sensitive to security and that accounts for its choice of industrial location within coastal territories. He said the company operates 24 hours service and enjoys good community relations with its host communities, of Rumuolumeni and Bakana, and also work with related agencies within the government and private sector including its competitors to enhance efficiency and proficiency in service delivery. Taneh Beemene