The Managing Director/CEO of Engineering Automation Technology Limited (EATECH), Mr. Emmanuel Okon, has decried the continuous award of contracts by International Oil Companies (IOCs) to local firms with weak systems and structures, saying the trend posed severe threat to the quest to grow the technical capabilities and manpower base of indigenous firms in the oil and gas sector.
Okon, who spoke to journalists after being inducted as a Fellow of the Institute of Oil and Gas Research and Hydrocarbon Studies (IOGRHS) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, recently, lauded the federal government for coming out with the Local Content Law in the oil and gas sector. He said the law had assisted in the establishment of vibrant indigenous oil and gas service company in the country.
He, however, alleged that there had been a rise in recent years in cases of poor regulations leading to IOCs awarding contracts under the Local Content Law to “companies without systems and structures to sustain their workforce once the job is completed.”
“It’s the trend we now see in the industry and it is a total negation of the essence of the local content law; once they complete the job they shut down, park out and throw out the workers,” Okon said.
“This is not the way to guarantee and deliver the next generation of skilled workforce for the Nigerian oil and gas industry and regulators should step in and halt this trend by ensuring IOCs give jobs to local firms that have structures and systems and that can always sustain their workforce into the next project,” Okon added.
According to him, there was the urgent need for regulatory agencies such as the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to be strict in their oversight functions to ensure local firms build solid structures that can withstand the test of time in the course of project execution for IOCs.
“These regulatory agencies should also encourage local companies to develop systems and structures because this remains the only way to ensure the sustained development of local firms and their workforce.
“The Nigerian oil and gas industry is going to suffer in the long run if capacity building is not seen as the key driver by operators and regulators. This is the only way to guarantee and deliver the next generation of skilled workforce for the industry,” Okon added.
The Chairman of Council for the Institute of Oil and Gas Research and Hydrocarbon Studies, Prof. Akin Akindoyeni, in his speech before the induction said Okon was installed as a Fellow of the Institute “for his specialisation in Corporate Leadership and Foresight.”
He commended the EATECH CEO for his vision, commitment and hardwork in realising his set targets as a local player in the petroleum industry.
He said the birth of the company had led to the creation of hundreds of jobs for Nigerian youths and also saved the country millions of dollars in capital flight as most of the instrument calibration and fabrication jobs hitherto done by multinational oil firms at exorbitant cost in dollars were being handled locally at EATECH facility in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.