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Innovation in oil, gas industry critical to Nigeria’s development

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Schneider Electric

Nabil Djouhri is the General Manager, Process Automation, Schneider Electric West Africa. He has 20 years of international experience in the oil and gas sector across Europe, South America, Middle East and Africa, having occupied senior management positions in engineering, sales, research and development (R&D) and business development.

Over the past six years spent in Halliburton Nigeria and now Schneider Electric, he has an understanding of the needs of the oil and gas industry in West Africa. In his current position, he provides industries with solutions to boost efficiency, optimise costs and increase safety in their operations.

In this interview, he speaks on his passion for local content development, sourcing and promoting local talents for local execution, providing them with the required training, exposure and responsibilities to maximise their potential.

What has been your experience at Schneider Electric?
I manage the process automation business of Schneider Electric in West Africa, one of the two businesses of Schneider Electric; the other being energy management. I have worked for the past 20 years in the oil and gas sector in various multinational companies across Europe, South America, Middle East and Africa.

In my current position, I provide industries with solutions to boost efficiency, optimize costs and increase safety in their operations. In process automation these are mainly control and safety systems that help installations (mainly in oil and gas) to keep their operations reliable, efficient, safe and far from any catastrophic incident.

Evaluating the potential of Nigeria’s petroleum sector, what role will technology play in both new and existing operations?
Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is diversified with operations from land to swamp to shallow and deep water. This enables different players, both international and local, to contribute to the development and success of the industry in Nigeria.
The oil and gas sector is also continuously seeking cost optimisation. New technologies will play a key role in reducing costs, increasing efficiency and enhancing safety for all different parts of the chain: upstream, midstream and downstream.

What can drive the growth in investments? 
There are two key drivers for growth in investments, which are political stability and availability of key competencies in the market. Nigeria already has a good pool of skilled workforce available in the market and should continue to focus on local content development and groom their skills.

What are your thoughts on collaborating with companies throughout sub-Saharan Africa?
Schneider Electric is present throughout the African continent, with subsidiaries in 16 countries and has an extensive network of partner companies with which we collaborate successfully. With many industry players operating within sub-Sahara Africa, collaboration would help reduce the cost of production and operation as industry players can easily replicate proven business models across the region

What role can your company play in developing the oil and gas sector in Nigeria?
Technology and innovation are at the core of what we do, which makes us a key player in the oil and gas sector to ensure the safety of operations and increase profitability of companies in the field. We leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)with digital solutions that enhance operational efficiency and cost optimization. That’s the principle of our EcoStruxure platform, which has already positively impacted several local and international Oil & Gas companies worldwide.

How do you describe the activities of Schneider Electric in general? 
Schneider Electric is leading the digital transformation of energy management and automation in industries, homes, buildings, data centres and infrastructure. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software. We are present in over 100 countries and take pride in being the leader in power management – medium voltage, low voltage and secure power, and in automation systems.

How do you think Schneider Electric could lay a strong foundation for the Nigerian Content agenda?
Schneider Electric has been always focused on local content development. Our business in West Africa is mainly driven with local competencies, which form 95 per cent of our workforce.

We champion and promote local talents for local execution, providing them with the required training, international exposure and responsibilities to maximise their potential. We also obtained in 2018 the Nigerian Content Equipment Certificate in recognition of our commitment to local content policy. Schneider Electric local employees have also been instrumental to the success of the business in sub-Sahara Africa as they have been equipped with capability to execute projects across the region

In your own perspective, what are the challenges and opportunities surrounding the oil and gas industry in West Africa?
In West Africa as around the world, fluctuating market prices hinder long-term investment in oil and gas. In addition to that, environmental protection, security of onshore and swamp operations in countries like Nigeria remains a determining challenge to the growth of the industry.

Nevertheless, the regional market presents key opportunities for the oil and gas industry and the energy sector in general, to leverage regional agreements, facilitate export and boost growth.
Digitalisation of oil and gas infrastructure and operations would play a major role in addressing these challenges.

In your own opinion, how can the region drive growth in the oil and gas industry?
One way to drive growth in the West African oil and gas industry is to attract more investments by developing transport capabilities and refining infrastructures to boost the domestic and regional market. We should continue to groom local competencies and maintain tight security for onshore operations.

There is also a need to use the gas resources available more productively for the local market, both from an economical and ecological standpoint.


In this article:
Nabil Djouhri
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