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How Shell’s $700,000 offshore tech centre will make Uniport a rare oil knowledge centre in Africa

· As OTI in Uniport celebrates unveiling of rare subsea equipment · Expert says Nigeria must brace up to lead in oil knowledge sector as AfCFTA comes

Shell Nigeria, though one of its strongest subsidiaries, Shell Nigeria Exploratory and Production Company (SNEPCo), splashed $700,000 (almost N300m) to provide an array of sensitive subsea laboratory facilities that would make studying sensitive courses in the University of Port Harcourt look like those studying in Aberdeen in the UK.

Items donated and inaugurated on the day at the Offshore Technology Initiative (OTI) in the Engineering Faculty include a Toyota bus, software packages, laboratory equipment, table/work benches and chair aimed at strengthening and imparting knowledge and application of new technologies in the oil and gas industry.

According to Elohor Aiboni, the CEO of SNEPCo, who was represented by Gloria Udoh, Manager, Social Performance and Social Investment (SPDC), the impact/capacity that the company sought to address by this donation were to impact knowledge to students in various disciplines of engineering design, construction and installation of offshore and subsea structures; including computer simulations and investigative features and for the laboratory equipment, to equip the institution and students with tools to carry out civil and construction tests, 3D printing/engravement capability, measurement/slash metering technology, robotics, Alternative Energy Technologies and Data Acquisition Learning System.

Read also: Shell aims to decarbonize the aviation industry

She also said; “We also recognize that equipping Nigerian students with these skills and competences thrive in world class research institutions, intellectually rich technology enabled environments. As a result, for example, Shell Companies in Nigeria have endowed targeted professorial chairs and centres of excellence in Nigerian Universities to be the fulcrum for encouraging research and development in Nigeria. This is in addition to the fact that we continue to welcome academics in our operations for sabbatical and research internship programmes.”

The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) played collaborative roles by providing guidelines on how to make such interventions. The GM Strategy, Haliyu Abdulmalik, who stood in for the Executive Secretary, Simbi Wabote, saw Nigeria playing leading role in human capital export into Africa as the African Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA) downs on the continent. He said many oil countries in Africa would need specialised manpower which the University of Port Harcourt would readily provide. He called AfCFTA the next frontier.

He warned: “There is need for consistent training of technologists. There is also the need to maintain and upgrade the equipment in the faculty because technology easily goes obsolete. Adjust your curriculum to meet new equipment coming into the department and please endeavour to put them to use. We will monitor how it impacts students and lecturers in the University. That is how Shell and others can do more for the university.”

Francis Ofulue, Subsea Services Manager, TechnipFMC Nig limited, said students from the department were highly competent, and ready for hire. “They are great resources to the world. The equipment will surely help more in making them world class.”

Uniport authorities promised to continue to excel and to put the sensitive facilities to good use, saying they were not only for OTI but that they were reviewing the various programmes in Petroleum, Mechanical and all others that do with offshore studies, and that time is gone when students only see these equipment in the industry for the first time.

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