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‘Importance of utilising local expertise in oil, gas sector’


Onyeche Tifase

Onyeche Tifase

Onyeche Tifase is the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of Siemens Nigeria. She spoke with journalists recently in Port Harcourt during the commissioning of the company’s workshop on the importance of utilising local expertise as cost-cutting strategies against economic recession. ROSELINE OKERE was there. Excerpt.

The Federal Government has been working hard to ensure the full implementation of local content in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. What is the significance of the new workshop on the content initiative?
The Siemens Service Center stands as a shining example of how leading OEMs can localise their services, increase value-addition and contribute strategically to the much-needed diversification of Nigeria’s economy. We recognise this as a ground breaking moment, not just for Siemens, but for Nigeria and Nigerians.

With over 160 years of engineering history across the world, Siemens remains at the forefront of technological advancement through the supply of sustainable and efficient automation, digitalization and electrification solutions and lifecycle services. Siemens equipment outperforms in various oil & gas, manufacturing, utility and infrastructure facilities worldwide. In Nigeria our vision for many years has been to create a world-class facility and workshop environment where service excellence is fostered to align with our client’s ever changing needs.

We are proud to have developed a facility that is ISO 9001 accredited and offers a modern working environment for our partners and employees. This workshop has been developed according to international specifications and standards and represents a major investment for the global Siemens service business.

How much is the country going to retain through the service centre?
For us to be able to estimate savings or returns for Nigeria from the facility, we will have to tie that to the government’s national plans. During the opening of the facility, our keynote speaker said all the investments we are seeing in the oil and gas sector might come to naught if the sector itself collapses. If that is the case, it automatically means we will be minimising whatever investment we will be making in the future. But I believe personally that the oil and gas sector will rebound; this is just a down period and it will not last forever.

I believe by the end of the year, things will start to reverse and we will see a positive trend for Nigeria. And then we will be able to provide clear figures and estimations about what we can do and the kind of impact we can make, not just cost-wise, but let’s start to think local content-wise, human capital development, excellent quality in process, delivery and improving people’s competences. There is a lot of value we can add that isn’t directly related to cost even in the meantime and we are doing that already.

Many oil and gas companies have embarked on cost cutting strategies due to the declining crude oil prices. How can the Siemens workshop assist firms to reduce budget without compromising quality?
It has become even more critical in today’s economy to ensure that industrial plants and facilities run at maximum capacity and efficiency over an extended lifecycle. The technical experts and other employees located in the Siemens Service workshop are well trained, certified and capable of developing and delivering precisely the right support to ensure maximum results and address all our customer’s service needs.

The combination of inspection, repair, overhaul, training, customer-service and maintenance expertise that we now offer will play a decisive role in maximising availability and productivity of your Siemens installed systems. Furthermore, the recent integration of the Dresser-Rand and Rolls Royce portfolios into that of Siemens will ensure provision of an even more comprehensive set of solutions and services.

What matters to our customers, matters most to Siemens. With the establishment of this facility we are even better positioned to partner on a broader range of projects and initiatives.
The Siemens Port Harcourt Service facility is equipped to repair and overhaul highly sophisticated equipment that would previously have been sent overseas. This will ensure we remain even closer to our customers and can provide greater responsiveness, reduce turnaround time and optimise costs for undertaking maintenance programme.

What is your modus operandi for Nigerians getting involved in your operations to develop their capacities?
As a chief executive officer of Siemens, it is something I ask myself everyday: How do facilities such as this or investments or innovations that we are bringing to the market leave a lasting impact on Nigerians? It is a critical success factor for any business today. This is a module that has worked very well for Siemens in Germany and we are trying to do the same here in Nigeria. From the President Muhammadu Buhari’s and Federal Government’s intentions, I know that aligns very well. There is a lot of focus on capacity development and how that translates into job creation. So, we start with training people and then how do we ensure that they are employable? We are not training them only on this equipment, but also on the right attitude and skills, and then we are giving them exposure to multinationals like Siemens. Higher performance could be delegated abroad for international experience as well and then all these come back in-country and if they are turned into staff of Siemens or other organisations, some of them may end up as entrepreneurs or trainers themselves.

Apart from the oil and gas sector, which other industry stands the chance of benefiting from the service centre?
This facility will have impact on oil and gas, manufacturing, utilities and infrastructure. Oil and gas has always been the foreign exchange earner for Nigeria but that is changing. We are seeing why infrastructure has to be the baseline for enabling further investment in the industry and that is even more critical. And for infrastructure, you need power and intelligent solutions which we can service here.

When it comes to utility, you are looking at not just gas turbines, but also transformers, switch gears, high-voltage equipment, automation equipment, smart metering solutions; those are all things we plan to service here in future. We also look at being able to service motors in a very short period from now; we already have that equipment delivered, sitting outside our facility and very soon that equipment will be installed in this facility and we will start servicing motors. So, anything rotating or being driven in a factory, you are using motors or drive systems, we have already made the necessary investment to service equipment in those areas.

Why are we talking about service? If you invest in a new build; if you spend billions of naira or dollars investing in a new plant or equipment and you have no way to service, you are basically replicating what has been the normal modus operandi for Nigeria. You see discarded facilities and obsolete equipment all over the nation and it is because of a lack of service mentality or culture. So it is very key and even more important for me that we invest in establishing service facilities like this before expending precious funds on infrastructure, manufacturing or utility systems that will not work for their lifecycle. When you have a service workshop like this, it can service equipment from all over the nation.

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Onyeche Tifase
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