By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Simbi Wabote has expressed his delight at the size of Saipem’s facility and the quality of work being done by Nigerians at the firm’s fabrication yard in Port Harcourt, River State.
Addressing workers of the company when he led members of the NCDMB and other stakeholders on a tour of the Saipem fabrication yard in Rumuolumeni, which also coincided with the unveiling of a logo to commemorate Saipem’s 50 years of operations in Nigeria, Wabote described the facility as “a world-class fabrication yard”, which he said, was a demonstration of the capacity and capabilities of Nigerians in the oil and gas sector.
His words: “When I went through this site with my colleagues, what was on my mind was that there is nothing Nigerians cannot do. I have been in the oil and gas industry for 25 years and I know when we started how everything that was utilised in the oil and gas industry was imported. Fabrication of things as easy as even spools were all imported. What they told us then was that Nigerians did not have the capacity to fabricate those items, hence they were imported.
“But going through this yard today, I am encouraged more than anything else to reaffirm my belief in this country to do greater things. Today, this yard has direct employment of 3,500 people. Indirectly, that creates about 20,000 jobs within the immediate community and within the Niger Delta itself. We are not talking about the induced employment this will create within the immediate vicinity of Rumuolumeni community.
“Our hope is that we will continue to keep this yard busy. Our desire is that we will increase the number of employment opportunities that this yard will create. I am sure you should be very proud of what you have done in building these magnificent structures I am seeing here and I know future generations will be proud of you.”
He stated that it is the desire of the present administration to “internalize most of the things we are supposed to do in this country to ensure that we continue to create meaningful jobs for the teeming Nigerian youths,and this is a great example that we are achieving that in the oil and gas industry. As you can see, 95 per cent of what we need in the oil and gas industry is fabrication; all you see in the oil and gas industry is iron and steel and you people have demonstrated that if there is an opportunity you can overcome.”
He added: “We hope and pray that other projects that are in the funnel currently will immediately come on the back of EGINA. Today, Saipem fabrication on EGINA project is about 40,000 tonnes. That is huge amount of steel. One day I believe we will perhaps do 100 per cent of the tonnage that is required in an FPSO construction. The onus is on us to encourage this facility to grow.”
He stated that the NCDMB would do everything necessary to support genuine investors like Saipem who believe in Nigeria, have faith in Nigeria and also see the future in Nigeria.
Wabote also hailed the confined space welding technology developed by Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited in the EGINA project and described the technology as a great innovation that should be shared in the oil and gas industry.
He disclosed that the Board would hold a knowledge-sharing session with international oil companies (IOCs) to enable the companies “share experiences on their challenges, costs and local content” so that they could learn from each other.
Addressing the management and staff of the company, Wabote said: “This visit has made us realise the need to categorize fabrication yards in Nigeria so that potential investors will know the capacity of each of the yards. This is a world-class fabrication yard. We were in South Korea two weeks ago and what we saw there in terms of fabrication is not different from what we are seeing here. The only difference is that they have huge quay sides in which they are building FPSOs and ships. In terms of the fabrication layout, workshops and everything, there is no difference. So we are proud of this facility. We have gone round, and we can tell you it can stand any fabrication yard outside this country.”
On the company’s involvement in the EGINA Project, the NCDMB Executive Secretary said: “We have seen the massive work and the fabrication you are doing for the EGINA project. This is quite commendable. These things you have fabricated actually look like things that are imported from outside the country.
“We are really proud of you. We encourage you. I believe that there is no project in the oil and gas industry that cannot be done in this country. And that will be the position of this Board. We know the things that cannot be done here and we are ready to work with international partners to get the relevant technology to fill the gap. But in terms of fabrication, I do not think there is anything we cannot fabricate.”
The Managing Director of Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Mr. Guido D’Aloisio, said the year 2017 is a special year for the company, because Saipem globally is celebrating its 60 years of existence. “But more importantly for us, 2017 represents our 50 years in Nigeria”, he added.
He also said that the company owed its success in the country to the loyalty and hard work of its staff most of whom are Nigerians and the environment that is conducive to innovations and healthy competition.
“What is important today is not just to reflect on how big we are now but also the future. I think the environment where we are working is quite competitive. We are always making ground-breaking innovations on new ways of doing things.
“At Saipem today, we are fit for the future. Always ready for new challenges. We are very much proud ofhow far we have come. But at the same time we are prepared to take on any future challenge,” he said.