Vowgas: Pushing local content frontier in oil and gas
In order to prove that there can be capacity for a wholly Nigerian company to compete in the engineering and fabrication works sector of oil and gas, MG Vowgas Nigeria Ltd, has opened a modern fabrication yard in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The Group Managing Director of the company, Mr. Godwin Izomor, while briefing the media on the drive for the project, exuded more of a passion for country and profession, than personal economic benefits.
According to him, “there is now no more reason why fabrication jobs from the IOCs should be taken abroad, thus promoting capital flight. All that is needed in terms of quality and dimensions of work are here in this fabrication yard.”
Izomor lamented the huge loss suffered as a result of big companies taking jobs out of Nigeria to other countries.
According to him, “We in MG Vowgas are pained daily when we see that for almost every little construction, other international companies take such jobs to their countries to fabricate and eventually ship it back to Nigeria. Apart from the loss of time and huge revenue, that system really depreciates Nigeria as it creates job for others in other countries and leaves our people even more unemployed.
Unlike other companies that have operated in Nigeria: Samsung, Hyundai, other foreign companies, none of them has developed a good fabrication yard, like ship building fabrication yard that can compete anywhere in the world. They are all rent seeking companies. They come here, collect multi-billion dollars and they don’t develop the economy. They collect the whole big contracts, $4billion, $5billion and they don’t have anything to show for their having operated in this country. They go to their countries fabricate these things and bring them to Nigeria. This must stop.”
Izomor explained that Vowgas, over the years, has carved a niche in engineering design and development services, given its assemblage of renowned expertise by trained personnel.
He added that the company is equally strong in Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Installation (EPCI) in the oil and gas sector, especially with the availability of WPS (Welding Procedure Specification) machines.
With modern and fully computerised four workshops fitted with high caliber machines and equipment, the Fabrication Manager of Vowgas, Engineer Paulo Rosario noted that the speed and quality of works, using the modern equipment matches world-class standard in the oil and gas sector.
Facilities like super welding machines that can weld aluminum, stainless and normal iron; the multimaxx drilling machine and the array of 300T, 100T and 150T crawler cranes, including Varnsdor TOS WHQ Milling machines, etc.; Rosario assures that Vowgas has the men and expertise to accomplish any related work in the oil and gas industry.
Impressed by the array of trained personnel, foreign experts and equipment at the facility, Mr. Simbi Wabote, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), who recently took a tour of the facility with senior members of the Board, declared that there is no longer any justification for fabrication jobs in the oil and gas industry to be taken outside the country.
Wabote was particularly impressed by the huge job opportunities the Vowgas facility has provided for Nigerians, adding that apart from the stoppage of capital flight, which the coming on stream of the facility will ensure, it will also enhance the speed of delivery of jobs in the industry as the length of time usually lost in placing order for such jobs or sending such jobs abroad for fabrication, would have been cut off by the reliable alternative provided by MG Vowgas.
The NCDMB boss promised to partner Vowgas for the development of EPCI services in the oil and gas sector. As he put it, “I am overtly impressed with your excellent facilities here. I am blown away by what I have seen here. Your office complex, the fabrication shops, your 300 metres long site is enough to take any FPSO, plus your water depth of 7metres, which is also a very good edge to bring in vessels. Most of the global fabrication yards started like this. We will be willing to assist and partner with Vowgas to grow even bigger,” adding that the Local Content Digest will accommodate and feature the feats achieved by MG Vowgas.
“You know NCDMB is a regulatory agency for the entire oil and gas industry including the NNPC. As for this private initiative, our objective will be to ensure that work scopes that this yard can handle are given to this yard. We will ensure that they participate in competitive and transparent bidding process, and become the lead contractors instead of sub-contractors to people who don’t have facilities like this. This is an amazing facility and with a little encouragement, they will do much more than what we have here”
He commended the passion behind the building of the facility given that it has not really had any major contract, “but they have gone ahead to build this great facility, which also gives them the first mover advantage: do the investment, the work will come. And I can assure you that the NCDMB will support you for that work to come to this yard,” Wabote said.
Izomor, who complained about the huge cost of energy supply in the company, said the fabrication yard requires 6000 KVA generator to power the numerous equipment “as we cannot depend on NEPA to run this place because power surge can destroy our facilities and equipment.” He informed that the yard, which currently has a 3000KVA generator, would need another 3000KVA plant for optimal performance of all its facilities. He also lamented the issue of security, noting that the cost of providing security in the facility is twice the cost of maintaining the regular workforce in the company.
But despite the challenges, Izomor reiterated that the company is wholly committed to growing the Nigerian brand, explaining that the local content policy of the Federal Government is being fully implemented in the company, stressing that, “we have built our massive fabrication yard here in Port Harcourt, Nigeria for the purpose of building the Nigerian capacity in the oil and gas sector.”
The company, which presently has 98 per cent Nigerian management staff structure, says it now has the capacity to train over 500 skilled and unskilled workers to fit into the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Although the company is presently well equipped with major and ancillary facilities for efficient job delivery, Mr. Izomor explained that beside the 1,000 horsepower tug boat, and three big cranes with varying capacity, the company is concluding plans to “increase our fleet of vessels to meet the demand of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria.” He further explained that beside the supply and management of vessels, the company “has experienced personnel to provide logistics support to customers, ranging from project start-up support to full project logistics management.”
Conscious of the safety requirement in such a facility, Izomor informed that the safety component of the services offered by the company are not only high, but uncompromising. “We do not joke with safety here,” he said, adding that, “everything we need to promote safety in terms of men and materials are fully provided and we do not compromise even on the littlest aspect, both in our onshore and offshore operations.” That perhaps explains why in 2015, MG Vowgas won the British Safety Council award “for demonstrating a strong commitment to good health and safety management during 2014.”
Commenting on some of the services the company provides, the MG Vowgas boss said its services range from exploration through development and production activities. And they include towing and anchor holding, delivery of cargo and supplies of fuel, water and food to off shore rigs and platforms, transportation for offshore construction and maintenance work, ocean towing, standby safety team which can provide safety and emergency response services.
Although the company adheres strongly to the local content policy of the federal government, it has partnered with international companies like Hunan Great Steel PipeCo, Sydna Steel Pipe Company, Bintang Subsea and Seahorse Services Corporation, which share similar philosophy in quality service delivery, in order to expand the frontiers of engineering services in Nigeria, so it can maximally satisfy the related needs of its clients such as Shell Petroleum Development Company, Agip, Total, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Aiteo, NNPC etc.
In addition, the company prides itself as having made substantial progress in the oil and gas construction needs in Nigeria, having fabricated several 800T and 1000T Dump and Ramp Barges, provided anchor handling vessels for deep offshore drilling services, repair of pipe leakages or damaged pipes, as well as provision of platform vessels for deep offshore drilling services etc.
Izomor expressed confidence that the coming of the Vowgas Fabrication yard will solve many engineering construction problems, and his five-year strategic development plan will further expand the job opportunities for Nigerian youths. He called on the Federal Government not to relent in creating the enabling environment to make Nigerian companies to thrive and stablise.
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