As a means of boosting its impact in the educational development of people in host communities, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria has kick-started a targeted postgraduate scholarship programme for exceptionally intelligent Niger Delta youths, who have excelled at the undergraduate level in mostly science-related fields.
In a statement, Shell’s Corporate Media Relations Manager, Tony Okonedo, said the Niger Delta postgraduate scholarship programme begins from the 2010/2011 academic year.
According to Okonedo, the scholarship will avail 10 places to candidates from SPDC’s operational areas in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states to study for postgraduate qualifications at three top British institutions – Imperial College, London, University College, London and University of Leeds.
The corporate media relations manager quoted SPDC’s General Manager, Nigerian Content Development, Simbi Wabote as saying that, “the scholarship is part of efforts to develop a pool of talent within the Niger Delta which can effectively serve in the oil and gas industry.”
Simbi stressed that, “that is why beneficiaries are required to return home after their studies to take up opportunities in the industry”, adding that, “the scheme is in the pilot phase, and if successful, might be extended to other operational areas not covered this time.”
The one-year Masters’ programmes are in Petroleum Engineering, Geosciences, Geophysics, Engineering Geology, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Exploration Geophysics and Oilfield Corrosion Engineering.
Potential beneficiaries must possess a Bachelor’s degree in the relevant field of study at the Second Class Upper Level.
The scholarship will cover tuition fees, one return flight from Nigeria to the United Kingdom and a contribution towards living expenses.
The SPDC Joint Venture commenced scholarship awards in the 1960s for programmes in Nigerian and foreign institutions.
In 2009, the company awarded about 2,730 secondary school and 850 university scholarships in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country.
At any one time, SPDC scholarships support more than 17,000 secondary school and university students.
Support for education is just one aspect of SPDC’s social investments in the Niger Delta. In 2009, operations run by SPDC contributed some $57.7 million directly to development projects – many delivered in partnership with others.
These focus on a range of activities including small business and agriculture, education, training, health care and capacity building.