THE Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria Limited operated Joint Venture has built and handed over a Centre of Excellence in Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering to the University of Benin, as part of efforts to encourage manpower development in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. The latest achievement adds to the NNPC/SPDC JV Centre of Excellence in Marine and Offshore Engineering which opened at the Rivers State University, Nkpolu – Port Harcourt in 2017. The Centre of Excellence in Benin was established in 2012, and the SPDC JV funding and support over the years have resulted in the construction of a one-storey purpose-built building with lecture rooms, auditorium, offices, ICT centre, powerhouse and borehole among other facilities.
“It is a thing of joy to SPDC JV and, I believe, to the University of Benin also, that graduates of the Centre are snapped up by various companies who have come to appreciate the quality of training offered,” Managing Director of SPDC and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, said at its formal handover to the University authorities recently. He was particularly pleased that, more than 120 graduates had been trained, many working in the oil industry and public service as well as undertaking doctorate programmes.
In an address, the Chief Upstream Investment Officer at the NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services (NUIMS), Mr. Bala Wunti, who was represented by Deputy Manager, External Relations, Mrs. Bunmi Lawson, said: “This Centre is a symbol of our commitment to scientific exploration, environmental stewardship, and the pursuit of knowledge. It will serve as a hub for collaboration, innovation, and the training of future generations of geoscientists who will carry the torch of discovery forward.”
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Lilian Salami, who is also the chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Centre, described it as “a precious jewel” of the institution. “Its unique capacity to contribute immensely to local content development for the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, through well-structured, industry-focused training in the Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering, is a great source of pride to the University,” she said.
The Centre of Excellence is a joint effort of the NNPC/SPDC JV and the University of Benin and designed to bridge gaps between classroom training of young graduates, at master’s and doctorate degrees levels, and industrial practice that make them ready for the oil and gas business. Products of the Centre have won prizes and awards at conferences and exhibitions with some acquiring PhDs within and outside Nigeria “in record time.”
The NNPC/SPDC JV Centre of Excellence in Marine and Offshore Engineering at Rivers State University is also producing top-level manpower and will soon commence PhD programmes. A Professorial Chair in Environmental Management and Control at the University Nigeria, set up by NNPC/SPDC JV in 2016 is planned to transit to a Centre of Excellence in Environmental Management and Green Energy.
The NNPC/SPDC JV has been supporting education through scholarships and other initiatives since the 1950s.