Uzu: Some Local Companies Want to be Agents Without Capacity

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Obidike Uzu

In an interview with select journalists, the Managing Director of Global Process and Pipeline Services Limited, Mr. Obidike Uzu, speaks about local content in the oil and gas sector among other issues. Peter Uzoho presents the excerpts:

  

You are set to inaugurate your new office complex in Port Harcourt. How did the company get to this position?

Global Process and Pipeline Services Limited (GPPS) was formed in 2002 but commenced operation in 2010 as a frontline oil services company, showcasing Nigerian indigenous capability on land, swamp and offshore terrains. Over the years, we have built our reputation on professionalism and quality service delivery in the oil and gas sector, without compromising safety and quality standards. We have continued to provide value, reliability, and technically effective solutions to our ever-increasing clientele base. Our critical success factors include, massive in-house capacity in terms of fit for purpose equipment; competent, dedicated and resilient workforce; extremely commendable track records; and unbroken focus in our core areas of competency. Our robust and successful collaborative management style is tied to strict ethical standard adherence. We have encouraged our worker force to own and adopt high safety awareness and environmental consciousness.

GPPS currently has the largest in-country pumping, process and pipeline services’ equipment fleet, capacity and competency with uncommon focus within this product service line in Nigeria. Beyond that, our top-down approach to Health, Safety and Environment, fosters a companywide “safety first” attitude suited to the needs of our clients.

Obviously, the new office complex and operations base will further enhance our operational efficiency for a superior service quality delivery in line with the highest industry standards and best practices and in accordance with the tenets of ISO 9001:2015; with attendant commendations pouring in for such a young and dynamic company acknowledged by the oil industry giants like – Exxonmobil, Total, NLNG, Shell Companies in Nigeria just to mention a few.  We use the most fit for purpose equipment on all our projects. Anyone can rent equipment but using GPPSL equipment means reliability, efficiency, deliverability based on the best in-class industry preventive maintenance standards.

 

What will you say are the achievements of GPPSL since the take-off of the company?

We are proud of our rapid growth and this has been attested to by African Business Review report listing us among the top 10 fastest growing company in Africa in March 2014. I can boldly say that we own the largest fleet of resources in Nigeria for our line of business. We have become a superior brand name in the pre-commissioning and pumping industry with numerous awards and we have ramped up our safety and quality operating delivery to the admiration of our clients.

We are a great success story of collective collaboration of Nigerian talents that is strategically organised to harmoniously work together for the continuous development of a high standard brand in Africa. GPPSL is the only Nigerian company focused solely on process and pipeline product service line with major projects completed in the deep-water applications and has attracted the best hands in the industry from the multinationals to work for her with an expansion plan into other Sub-Saharan Africa countries.

There are accusations that most International oil companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria devise various means to evade complying with the Nigerian Content Act, but here you are, reeling out names of IOCs who believe in you?

We came from the background of having been employed by IOCs, multinational service companies and now as a service provider, I can frankly tell you that IOCs are happy to patronize competent and reliable local companies once they are sure that the local companies will deliver at acceptable ethical, safety, quality and industry specific standards and best practices.

ExxonMobil for instance have greatly supported us from origin with training, positive feedback, and huge patronage which catapulted our growth to this enviable capacity; and also delivering good services to Total E&P, Chevron and SNEPCo.

There are times we have shown superior capacity ahead of the multinational service competitors. In one of the cases, we were told that it is not possible for a local company to score higher in technical bid (capacity) than a multinational service provider, even though we did scored higher.

Secondly, some operators are afraid of insurance liability and escalated project cost that may arise if the said local company becomes unable to deliver as required. Some local companies just want to be agents without capacity. Some of these issues are being addressed by the new dynamic NCDMB team who are assuring competent Nigerian companies of patronage, fair evaluation and strict adherence monitoring.

How would you assess process and pipeline services as it concerns competency and capabilities of local companies in Nigeria?

Despite their unsteady start, locally owned firms continue to play a significant part in the oil and gas ecosystem in Nigeria. There is still depth of competence and capable of local companies in Nigeria for this product service line; however, GPPS has differentiated herself with her top-down exceptionally competent management team. We have attracted the best hands in the industry from the multinational companies to work for us. Our Competency level is very high with unrivalled capabilities.  Our strategic focus is foster a culture of continuous learning and competency program for our people development and human capacity enhancement. We have trained our next level managers in some world best institutions like Harvard and Cambridge Universities. We are increasingly becoming the resource base (equipment and people) for this product service line in the Nigeria market.

So can we say that GPPS is a product of Nigerian Content initiative?

Absolutely yes; we are proudly Nigerian; and a product of the Nigerian Content Initiative. The leading Nigerian company operating on international standards and industry best practice in her product service lines. This is a brand that should be promoted into other parts of the world. I must commend the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) led by the Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote, for the giant strides recorded under his leadership. They are aggressively propagating the clear essence of local content in creating opportunities and local engagement for very organized and capable Nigerian companies.

 

What do you think should be done to deepen local content adoption in the country?

The future for Nigeria’s oil, gas and energy industry is very promising comparatively. The sector is relatively open, the regulators, operators and service providers must learn to work with each other and create value under a common and transparent set of rules for years to come. Prior to the content ACT, the local and in country capability was only in a sort of closed environment; and a supportive governance structure did not exist while foreign firms monopolised all the specialist management and technical teams including access to capital. Today, we have increased participation of capable local companies in the sector. More importantly, to deepen local adoption, we should put in place proven systems for monitoring and assessing performance of the local companies; demanding feedbacks from the operators on the performance of the local companies’ post-work completion. We should have an incentive to encourage and drive technology transfer from multinationals to local companies and finally, we need to establish a transparent template for competency and capacity verification; with a repository of in-country database which will form the basis to subject IOCs to use them.

 

Apart from the Nigerian Content Act, do you see any other policy that is helping to shore up indigenous participation in the industry?

A logical first step to shore up indigenous participation is the mixing of local and international expertise, consultants and local graduates. In the oil and gas, it is almost the norm to have multicultural and multidisciplinary teams, especially in technical and operations areas. Despite the logic, finding and maintaining the right talent and mix is one of the hardest parts for an oil services firm to get right. There is no doubt that the private sector and the government have much to do in the area of human capital development. We need to further equip our higher institutions with the millennium teaching aids and curriculum to be in tandem with industry needs.

In terms of access to capital, given the size, attractiveness, and openness of the Nigerian economy, and fundamentally the NCDMB intervention fund, we potentially have funding options. However, historically the local market has not had the experience in providing funding capital to the process and pipeline services business area and in some cases the banking rules classify us as high-risk ventures because of the fragmented contract structure, although this is changing.

 

Where do you hope to take GPPSL in the near future?

Our goal is to turn GPPSL into a global brand, spreading into other countries. We have no doubt that GPPSL would become the obvious market leader in her product service line, especially in Africa. I see GPPSL expanding her foot-print and geography into other Sub-Saharan Africa countries in the nearest future. And in terms of financial success, I see GPPS doubling her current revenue base with massive ramp-up on operational deliverability and efficiency in the near future.