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‘How ICT can revolutionise oil, gas sector’

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Amid daunting challenges plaguing Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, an industry expert and former Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Engr. Rabiu Suleiman, has called for higher investments in Information Communications Technology (ICT) to fully harness the huge economic potential that the petroleum sector holds.

According to the veteran, “the major challenge today is that of insecurity. Other challenges include; general economic recession, the recent COVID-19 pandemic that almost grounded the entire world economy. Many countries passed through a recession, there was the lowering of oil reserves because production was halted in some countries and therefore, production became low and of course, there are other challenges related to high production cost. If you narrow down and do a comparative analysis between Nigeria and other countries, the cost of production per barrel in Nigeria is significantly very high. It went as high as $32 per barrel and crude oil price at the international market went as low as $9/barrel. But quickly, it went up to $140/barrel later and then crashed to below zero by COVID-19.”

Engr. Suleiman pointed out that the 2021 edition of the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), which starts on the 6th of June, 2021 in Abuja, provides a great opportunity at this critical time for the Oil & Gas sector in Nigeria, with the focus on how to leverage ICT to transform the sector and the economy at large.

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Engr. Suleiman said: “ICT plays a significant role in optimisation, efficiency, technology advancement and all that. The most sensitive equipment in the process plants in the oil and gas industry is the programmable logic controllers, online analysers and all other instruments that control process, temperature, flows and pressure. So, if a company such as Huawei focuses attention on optimisation, efficiency, control and improvement, maximisation of production it will be very good.

“ICT is also key in security. You can easily integrate various ICT components in terms of monitoring of volume flows, temperature, attack, corrosion, contamination, communication, you can tie all these to a dedicated command and control centre. With Huawei’s oil & gas solutions, it is possible to manage pipeline damages. “Yes, this has been a major challenge over the years, which has greatly affected the economy. However, there are no ICT solutions to manage these occurrences. It is now possible to track the pipelines and keep them safe through technology. With this in place, more revenue can be generated”.

“ICT has proven useful across other industries. I believe it is time for the oil & gas industry to embrace more ICT. New ICT innovations are coming up to help tackle most of the challenges faced in the industry. I know Huawei Technologies has been coming up with some new solutions for the petroleum industry.”

“Regarding oil exploration, it is now possible to achieve up to 5% more oil productivity at a reduced cost of investment using ICT. There are now ICT solutions that make oil extraction easier at a lower price than what it used to be.

“ICT is also useful for data management. The oil & gas industry handles lots of information and a lot of it has been paperwork. There is therefore a need for digital transformation to foster efficiency in the way information is stored using ICT.

Engr. Suleiman also spoke on the need for a quick energy transition to renewables like solar, hydro and wind, to safeguard the environment. “Nigeria is abundantly blessed with renewable energy sources. Sunlight is abundant, from here in Abuja to the far north.

It can be captured and converted into the solar system. The main engine for growth is to have an uninterrupted power supply. We also have many solar power projects going on. There are 100 megawatts of solar power that I initiated in Kano State. We have many others going on in other parts of the country. We have small power panels that you can throw onto the roofs in villages.”He thus challenged Huawei Technologies to widen its green energy solution provider, especially in solar power for Nigerians.

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“Look at the three Nigerian refineries, none of them is producing aviation kerosene, why? Because of the ingress of water into the system and the inability of the laboratory to detect moisture content and the poor knowledge of operators who are reluctant to apply new technologies because they are afraid to carry out certain decisions.
Engr. Suleiman expressed joy that Huawei will be on the ground at the 2021 edition of the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS).

Huawei is a global giant with more than 30 years of expertise in ICT. According to Huawei’s website, the company works with 253 Fortune Global 500 companies as a digital transformation partner, including 14 out of the global top 20 Oil & Gas companies from 45 countries and regions around the world.

He urged the company to create robust awareness on the benefits of leveraging ICT to lower crude oil production costs; tackle issues around pipeline vandalism; boost Nigeria’s refining capabilities, among other benefits.

“What is missing in our industry is lack of awareness and I am happy that Huawei is here and they’re going to participate in the international conference and have a stand there to create such awareness.” Engr. Suleiman concluded.

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