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WABOTE: Three years of transformational leadership at NCDMB

In the space of two years and a half under the leadership of Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, its Executive Secretary, NCDMB has improved its creditable performance levels significantly and morphed into indispensable enabler of domestic investments and local capacity in the oil and gas industry. The agency has driven revolutionary progress by ensuring the engagement and participation of Nigerian- owned companies in major projects, which were once the exclusive preserve of foreign entities. As Engr. Wabote has shown, they were excluded not for lack of capacity but for want of opportunity. That is all changing All thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari, who has demonstrated his determination to empower Nigerian companies in the sector so that they can create jobs that would lift millions of Nigerians to prosperity. One example is Total’s Egina floating production storage and offloading (FPS O) vessel, its largest ever, weighing 220,000 tonnes and measuring 330m long by 60m wide.

The mammoth vessel is equipped to produce up to 200,000 barrels per day and hold up to 2.3 million barrels of oil. This marvel of engineering was partially integrated at the SHI-MCI yard, located within the Lagos Deep Offshore and Logistics Base. Six of the modules of the Egina Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) Vessel were manufactured and integrated on the vessel here in Nigeria. This was the first time such a huge project would be executed in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. To give a sense of its impact, its construction resulted in the creation of 3,000 jobs and the establishment of a 500-meter integration quay-side, which will make it easier and cheaper for future construction, integration, and maintenance of FPSOs. This would not have been possible without the visionary leadership of Engr. Wabote, whose solid engineering background places him at an advantage in negotiations wit h multinational partners. Under Wabote’s watch, NCDMB has intensifed efforts at regulating and catalysing new opportunities that would unlock huge latent potential to engender value-adding activities in country. It would appear that the agency is in a strategic hurry to achieve its set goal of 70 percent local content growth in the Nigerian oil and gas industry over a 10- year horizon. Some measures adopted include the shift away from strong-armed command and-control regulation with the tendency for business operators to adopt evasive tactics, towards a more collaborative, constructive approach that is win-win for all.

On regulation the Board reinforces compliance with constant communication and stakeholders ’ enlightenment about templates, processes and requirements. On the promotional side, the Board strives to build capacity or spur investment in critical infrastructure, especially in businesses that are not attracting the required level of investments. This revised engagement modus operandi has been shown to produce better results as far as generating employment, growing capacity and driving inclusive economic growth. Brief Bio Wabote was born in 1966, a native of Bayelsa State, a knight of St Christopher of the Anglican Communion and a distinguished public speaker. He holds a Master’s Degree in Corporate Governance from Leeds Metropolitan University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. He is a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), a fellow of the Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS). He is an ex-director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), with a wide breath of oil and gas
experience, cutting across engineering, operations,procurement, planning and strategic local content development in Nigeria, Gabon, Brunei, Oman, Kazakhstan, Australia, Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, USA and new frontier countries for Shell. In September 2016, President Buhari-led government appointed Wabote to lead the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.

Since his appointment and assumption of office, he has transformed the Nigerian oil and gas industry landscape with various innovative ideas and programmes that have significantly impacted the nation’s economy. His achievements are grouped under three distinct classifications : transformative initiatives, creation of access to affordable credit, and strategic interventions. Transformative initiatives The introduction of Service Level Agreements (SLA) shortened the protracted tendering cycle in the oil and gas industry from 36 months to nine months. The SLA applies to NCDMB and critical oil and gas operating companies and other keys Industry stakeholders. This initiative, in addition to reducing the tendering cycle also enhanced broad compliance with the requirements of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, leading to significant reduction in the unit cost of oil production in Nigeria.

Under Wabote’s watch, NCDMB’s processes were fully automated, particularly with reference to the Nigerian Content processes as it relates to the application and approval of expatriate quota approvals, Nigerian Content Plan, Nigerian Content Equipment Certification and Nigerian Content Compliance Certificate. This initiative has promoted efficiency and effective service delivery in the oil and gas industry. Another significant transformative initiative the deployment of new monitoring and evaluation template. T h e n e w framework simplifies the processes and procedures for rep or ting Nigerian Content performance. It also enhances speed of compliance and quality of data gathering. The executive secretary introduced the Nigerian Content 10-Year Strategic Road Map, which delineates the activity schedule, new milestones towards increasing Nigerian Content performance from 2 8 percent to 70 percent by 2027.

This will result in the creation of 300, 000 jobs and retain US$14bn in-country out of the US$20bn annual industry spends. Wabote introduced forensic audit of Nigerian Content Developmen t Fund remittance by oil and gas companies. This initiative has led to the huge recovery of arrears of unpaid NCDF levies by some companies and promoted high level of transparency and compliance. He has also deployed third-party monitors to ensure effective monitoring of operating and service companies, drive compliance and deepen local content performance in the industry. Cross sectorial linkages have grown and improved under his watch. He has consistently fostered cross- sectorial linkages with other critical sectors of the economy like Power, ICT, Education and Construction.

This has resulted in substantial patronage of locally manufactured cables, paints and ICT equipment by the oil and gas industry and participation in related operations. His strong advocacy of local content expansion inspired current efforts by the National Assembly to extend the Local Content Act to cover Power Sector, ICT and Construction Sectors and also engendered the Federal Executive Council’s entrenchment of the Local Content practice in other key sectors through the issuance of Executive Orders 03 and 05. Access to Affordable Credit The creation of US$200m inter vention fund, that is, the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund, provides affordable credit for Nigerian oil and gas service companies and community contractors with single digit interest rate and 1-year moratorium.

Through this intervention, the Board has effectively addressed the perennial challenge of lack of affordable capital, which hampered the growth and development of many indigenous operators. Already the sum of US$140m has been disbursed to eligible beneficiaries. As a result, there has been an enhancement of the capacity of local service companies and job creation for thousands of Nigerians. Strategic Interventions Modular refinery initiative comes alive. Wabote
championed NCDMB’s strategic equity investment i n Waltermith’s 5000 barrels per day ( b p d ) modular refinery in Imo State and Azikel 12,000 bpd hydro-skimming modular
refinery in Bayelsa State. By this action, he changed the dynamics by moving conversations around modular refining from mere rhetoric to reality, which has resulted in over 500 new employments; more value- added activities to hydro carbon resources, reduction in crude theft and pipe line vandalism.

The 5,000-barrels-per-day modular refinery being developed by Waltersmith Refining & Petrochemical Company Limited with equity investment from the NCDMB will be completed in May 2020. The progress of the project stands at 65 percent, seven percent ahead
of the original schedule. The engineering and procurement components have also been completed with construction at 60 percent. Project 100 Initiative is another milestone. The NCDMB boss midwifed Project 100 Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, by identifying 100 oil and gas start-ups and deploying special institutional interventions for their incubation, maturation and growth into world class service companies. These special interventions for Project 100 companies include access to capacity building, funding and access to market.

US $100 bn Investment Opportunities he championed identified of 80 huge oil and gas investment opportunities worth US$100bn that would materialise between 2019 and 2023.
Two oil and gas parks are coming on-stream under the Oil and Gas Parks Scheme, one each in Cross River and Bayelsa state. Wabote spearheaded the rapid development of these
parks to spur the domestic manufacture of critical oil and gas equipment, tools and spare parts. Presently, Phase 2 of the construction of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Parks Scheme
(NOGAPS) in Emeyal-1, Ogbialand in Bayelsa State, has been launched by the NCDMB. The second phase would include construction of pavements, walkways, parking lots, concrete-lined drainages and service ducts, among others.

The agency expects that a 25-megawatt ( M W ) independent  power plant (IPP) being constructed in partnership with the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to supply electricity to the park and other dedicated facilities would be completed in 2019. Community suppliers would also participate in the supply of sand, granite, water, fuel and other construction materials to be determined by the contractor and they would be subject to the quality required and fair market price. Establishment an FPSO integration facility birthed the Egina FPSO. Wabote pioneered the construction and integration of Egina FPSO modules ( deep off shore drilling and storage ship) for the first Content Development (NOGICD) Act.

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