The Nigerian Content Policy bears early fruit as Tolmann Allied Services, an indigenous company, opens a deepwater simulation theatre in its Port Harcourt new office complex in response to the training needs of companies carrying out exploration activities in deep offshore
| By Maureen Chigbo | May 5, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
IT WAS celebration unlimited on Monday April 14, as Tolmann Allied Services, an indigenous company, opened a deepwater simulation theatre, DST, at its new office complex in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The event coincided with the fourth anniversary celebration of the Nigerian Content Act. The DST, the first in Africa and third in the world, was conceived by Tolmann Allied Services Company Ltd in response to the increasing number of companies carrying out exploration activities in deep offshore. It is borne out of the need to prepare from classroom to installation to overcome harsh environmental conditions that may arise in such industry operations.
Commissioning the facility, Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, commended Tolmann Allied Services for investing in such an upscale facility, which according to her, has further removed doubts about the capacity of Nigerians to own and operate key assets in the oil and gas industry.
Alison-Madueke explained that the board’s insistence on indigenous ownership of key assets as a major plank of monitoring compliance is based on the fact that it is the best guarantee that the implementation of the Nigerian Content policy will endure. “Because Nigerians now have stakes in ownership, we are sure that the Nigerian Content policy will survive even after the current officials in government may have left the scene,” she said.
The minister, who was represented by Ernest Nwapa, executive secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, applauded the entrepreneurial spirit of local oil servicing companies which set up key facilities and acquire hi-tech industry assets despite experiencing challenges in the operating environment. He recalled that local companies under the aegis of the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, PETAN, started the push for indigenous participation in the industry before the federal government backed their efforts with the Nigerian Content policy which thereafter became a law.
Nwapa credited the successes recorded so far in implementing the Nigerian Content Act to the courage and leadership provided by the minister of petroleum resources and the political will and independence to operate being enjoyed under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. According to him, “you needed a resolute person to lead and drive the changes we have witnessed. Government gives the board a strong tone from the top to implement the Act.” He also assured that government would support any investment in the economy and ensure that such companies get patronage.
Nwapa was happy that so much had been accomplished in the past four years of implementing the Act. He said the board was working to expand the implementation frontiers to create more jobs in the economy. “It is from these kinds of service companies and investments we see from Tolmann and PETAN companies that jobs will be created and we will push them to make more investments,” he added.
In his welcome speech, Emmanuel Onyekwena, managing director of Tolmann Allied Services, recounted the challenges the company faced while setting up the deepwater simulation theatre, noting that the intervention of the minister saved the investment. He listed the company’s goals for investing in the DST to include-addressing challenges in deepwater exploration, building in-country capacity with global reach, creation of employment for graduates and community support, identifying with the ideals and reforms in the sector and demonstrating the capability as the local leading offshore safety training provider in-country.
Onyekwena, who extolled Total Exploration and Production Company for the patronage and support it provided the company from start-up till date, also highlighted the financial support provided by a local financial institution, Sterling Bank.
Onyekwena stated that the facility was set up with the assistance of Survival Systems Ltd, Canada, adding that Tolmann also owns another facility for shallow water training and Risk Management Safety and Emergency facilities.
In his remark, Emeka Ene, chairman of PETAN, identified innovation and entrepreneurship as the drivers of the oil and gas industry and charged operating companies to patronize facilities and assets owned by indigenous companies, whom, he said, were providing world class services. He said the DST facility would not only retain millions of naira that would have been spent by the Nigerian oil and gas industry to sponsor staff to overseas training programmes, but would also attract trainees from the Gulf of Guinea and other oil producing countries around the world.
He added that the investment by Tolmann has further clarified that Nigerian Content Act was not about rent collection, but a collaborative effort by service and operating companies to build capacity.
Also speaking at the event, Asita Honorable, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Local Content, applauded Tolmann for the huge investment it had made, declaring that there would be no tenable excuse to take the kinds of training that could be offered at the facility abroad.