Why NCDMB is involved in promotion of modular refineries

The Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board, NCDMB, is the body that monitors Local content development in the oil and gas industry. Simbi Wabote who is the executive secretary of the agency in a recent interview with Olusola Bello on the sideline of the just concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference  spoke on sundry issues  in the oil and gas industry. Excerpts:

What is the whole idea behind project 100?

The whole idea behind project 100 is to identify a couple of Nigerian companies that we can work with overtime to build their capacity. We want to build the capacity of people who can deliver highly technical service. This is not just in a day or six months; it takes a lot of time.

What have we done so far, we have been able to transparently select about 60 or more that applied based on the criteria we have set. Yes, the target is a 100 by January next year we will then look at the remaining 40 and definitely we shall get to 100 and we have been able to get them. Currently, about a month ago we organize extensive training for most of the companies. Their managers and staff were trained for six weeks in various aspects of project management, understanding the industry and how to access opportunities, what’s the process to go through. We have extensive six weeks training and we also train them on underwater activities because the industry is going upward, we needed them to understand that. Just two weeks ago, we have to select about 10 of them because to build capacity in the oil and gas sector, you need partnership, you can’t do it alone.

How do you create partnership between local and international businesses that have technology and expertise, so we took about 10 of them to Oil & Gas Fair for them to meet other international companies that want to come and do business with Nigeria, see how they work, synergize to close that partnership. Of course, we couldn’t take the 60 because we don’t have the fund to begin to take 60 people on that journey. Out of the 10, about 8 of them got international recognition.

This is where we are and we are building programmes right now to develop a strategy to complete them. First of all, know where they are and where we want to take them to. This is currently ongoing. It has to be a structured pattern that is why it is not a fast track arrangement; it is a long-time developmental arrangement that will be well structured.

What is the update of NOGAS?

The NOGAS, like I, said two of them are under construction currently in Bayelsa and Calabar. For the Bayelsa one of the contractors has been mobilised to site, the Calabar one in the next couple of weeks, once we get the necessary approval we will go ahead. The infrastructure on it, we are also moving ahead, we believe that in the next few weeks, we will get the necessary approval. Our target is to see how we get those two projects completed. As for the power plant that will support the Bayelsa NOGAS, hopefully, it will be commissioned sometime early August.

Can you tell us more about the $200 million intervention fund?

The message is to attract counterpart founding to that level not necessarily to release the fund. I think that was the challenge with the Bank of Industry, BoI. BoI is the bank managing that intervention fund for us. They are working very hard. A few weeks ago we had a meeting with the leadership of BoI and they are about concluding some form of counterpart founding in the pact of the $200 million they are managing for us. So, it is not to raise but look for counterpart funding to support so that we don’t stop that process. It has to continue. They are making good progress. Sourcing for the fund is not a day’s job and hopeful that will be concluded very soon.

What is NCDMB doing to in respect of those trained and are not able to get placement in the industry?

That is why since I came on board, in terms of training, NCDMB has adopted a different approach. We don’t get into training for training sake. A lot of people have been trained either through NCDMB, Amnesty Programme or Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, yet these fellows don’t see where to work. There is no provision strategy to say we will adopt what we call the 60-20-20 approach for training. 60 percent of our training is to focus on people that will be trained with ease of addressing job opportunities while 20 percent focus on those who already have jobs, how do we upscale their capacity to be able to serve the industry proper. Then the other 20 percent can have general training where people will be trained in terms of work ethics and interpersonal relationship. Also, to enhance their ability to perform.

Today, there is a company called AOS Orwell that is training electrician for us and part of the agreement with them is that 60 percent of those who are trained will be absolved. That is the contract and if they don’t absolve those 60 percent, they don’t get paid for the services they provide. That is the way you force people to provide training that will enhance employment rather than training people.

You are right of course that we design a model to ensure that they are employed. We are also focusing on entrepreneurial ship training; we are not training people so that they will seek employment. How can they become self-sustaining such that they will become an entrepreneur themselves and employ people rather training them to look for jobs.

NCDMB, Waltersmith have a joint pact on a refinery coming on stream soon and another initiative in Calabar. What does the Board intends to achieve?

The push and the drive for it are government policy trying to bring up modular refineries in order to support local refining petroleum products in-country. The government launched a yearly programme to localised refinery. The mistake people make is that they think modular refinery is a different kind of refinery. It is still the same refinery but on a smaller scale. How can you get it going so that you begin to refine products in-country? That is the drive, it is part of government’s policy to do this and we are at tandem with that.

If you recall when the president launched the 7 BIG WINS, it was part of the BIG WINS agenda for the refinery industry to get Nigerians involved in the value chain. It is the same way we are addressing the flare down opportunity, gas commercialization and the rest of them. So, it is all tailored towards that.

We are involved in the Waltersmith bid, the other day we signed an agreement for equity participants with Azikel refinery. It is important that journalists visit the site as work is ongoing. Presently, the tanks are being erected and the detail design is about to be commissioned. There is a timeline for this and the Board will catalyze those activities. We are a regulatory agency with a developmental agenda as part of it. We catalyzed those processes as they get on, we pull out and focuses on other things we will do. We are also looking seriously at the gas value chain. How can we support the federal government policy on LPG penetration? That is the way government works to enunciate the policy and agencies of government, see how they fit in to support government agenda. That’s all we are doing. Doing what the government wants us to focus on.

How long will it take before you pull out?

It depends, once it comes onstream, they might ask us they want to buy us out which is okay even if it is a year, two years or three years, it depends on when they want us to get out of that kind of investment. We have a target date at some point we just move out.

Is there any way you follow up activity or regulate local refinery operators?

Obviously, we followed them up and we try to see what they do. Right now, we are trying to encourage more of it to get on. Like you know part of what we have in Niger Delta, the good number of people trying to refine crude in the process the environment is degraded but we have to organize them in modular form. Small refineries everywhere at some point you cave out those who are producing crude oil and degrade the environment which has to stop. We know what they are doing even though they don’t make too much noise about it. Some of them are private entities. We only step in to put things in order.

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