Challenges Facing Nigeria’s Oil Industry Worries Petroleum Engineers’ Society

By Akanimo Sampson

Worried petroleum engineers in Nigeria say they are concerned about the country’s oil and gas industry. The Nigeria Council of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) says it is currently focusing on the challenges facing the industry.

Council Chairman, Joseph Nwakwue, an engineer, says the society is ready to offer professional services and work with all stakeholders in a bid to move the industry forward.

To this end, the society is busy X-raying different stakeholders’ perspectives for addressing the challenges facing the industry.

In a seeming frantic bid to move the industry forward, Nwakwue says the society is focusing on capacity building to develop the required skill set for the oil industry operations, pointing out that it informed the choice of the theme of their conference.

SPE started in Nigeria in 1973 as Society of Petroleum Engineers Lagos-Nigeria Section. Over the years it evolved into a council, five sections in each of the following locations Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri, Benin and Abuja, and 32 SPE Student Chapters.

Society of Petroleum Engineers Lagos-Nigeria Section was granted a charter on March 26, 1973 as an SPE Section 61. Port Harcourt and Warri Sections were respective granted SPE Section charters as Section 103 and Section 104 on December 15, 1987. Benin and Abuja Sections were similarly granted charters of SPE on June 18, 1990 and February 27, 2011 respectively as Section 116 and Section 199 respectively.

The SPE Nigeria Council as an umbrella body of all SPE Sections in the country was established in 1987 and approved by the SPE International (SPE-I) Governing Board on October 1, 1988.

The Nigeria Council comprises Sections registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria with RC #1332 as an Incorporated Trustee under the name Society of Petroleum Engineers Nigeria.

The Council leadership comprises the Council Chairman and 17 other officers. Each section equally has a leadership board comprising the Section Chairman and officers. The Nigeria Council also has an advisory Board of Trustees comprising all past Chairpersons of the Council and other appointed industry chieftains. 

In the mean time, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, says for the Nigerian petroleum industry to move forward in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders have to evolve innovative ways to reposition the sector for sustainability.

Kyari spoke at the opening ceremony of the SPE Nigeria Energy Industry Transformation Summit (NEITS) 2020. He said Industry players needed to train their eyes on a strategy that focuses on people, partnerships, profit and posterity.

This was contained in a press statement by NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru.

According to Obateru, Kyari explains that the new normal era brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has, more than ever, reinforced the need to up-skill the human capacity within the oil industry for the next phase, and develop the capacity to attract, train and retain people in the sector.

He spoke on the theme, Changing Global Energy Landscape: Repositioning for Industry Sustainability at the occasion.

Obateru quotes his principal as saying, ‘’there must be collaboration across different dimensions; government, Industry, academia and, particularly, with the communities where we carry out our operations. The social license to operate is critical to the Industry’s long term survival.

‘’Also, partnership among Industry peers to chart new ways of resolving Industry challenges and preparing for tomorrow cannot be over emphasized. I am delighted the SPE provides such veritable platform.’’

Continuing, the NNPC big boss said for sustainability, ‘’industry players must learn to manage cost, improve efficiency and deliver required cash flow (margins) for reinvestment and expansion’’, stressing that without creating profit today, ‘’we wouldn’t be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that keeps us viable and ready for tomorrow.’’

The key to reposition the oil industry for sustainability, according to Kyari, is for Industry players to always act and take decisions with posterity in mind.

Adding, he said, ‘’we must bequeath to the next generation a world worthy to live in. Our operations must therefore be carried out in a safe manner without adversely impacting the environment. As you know, most discussions around energy substitution or green economy stem from looking at the Industry as ‘dirty’ and ‘unconscionable’.

‘’It must be reiterated that our Industry remains the bedrock of modern human existence. We must therefore work to create a positive view if we are to remain relevant in the long run.’’

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, in his remarks said the Maradonic Petroleum Industry Bill will ensure that the abundant natural gas resources is used to promote national development.

Sylva said stakeholders in collaboration with the ministry, under his watch, will promote domestic utilisation of gas resources so as to create job opportunities for the citizenry.

President of SPE International, Shauna Noonan, in a keynote address, clarified that the concept of energy transition was not to wipe out fossil fuel but rather an aspiration for cleaner energy.

She said SPE, Nigeria Council, has a great role to play in reducing energy poverty, noting that energy transition was important for greater value in the global oil and gas industry.