‘With $10b FX saving, we’re laying foundation for in-country FPSO’
Sunny Eromosele is the Chief Executive Officer of Mudiame International Limited and Mudiame Welding Institute Limited. In this interview with KINGSLEY JEREMIAH, he discussed challenges in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria; particularly the need to invest in capacity development to improve the nation’s gross domestic product and save job lost to foreigners.
What informed your decision to venture into testing, calibration and inspection in the oil, gas and allied industries?
Our commitment is to meet and exceed the needs of clients in terms of high quality, good professional practice, delivery schedule and cost. Ten years ago, I discovered that there was no in-country capability in terms of quality control, testing and calibration. There was no accredited laboratory in Nigeria, when we came on board. We had relationship with some foreign companies and we decided to establish partnership to address the challenges we identified. We discovered that most of the jobs in the oil and sector then were taking abroad.
Today, we are an ISO 17025 accredited Nigerian based testing, calibration and inspection company offering services to the oil, gas and allied Industries. We implement and operate standard practices that conform fully to the requirements of ISO 9001:2008 and EN ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standard in all activities. Over the years, we have been faithful in maintaining a standard quality management system couple with a strict compliance to applicable statutory & regulatory requirements.
What we want to achieve is to ensure we perform all tests ranging from Mechanical Destructive Test to Non Destructive test (NDT), civil test and chemical analysis in Nigeria instead of going oversee. We already have well equipped one stop laboratory, international wielding institute, human capacity and international partners.
Today, some of my trained workers are working in some of those companies. To me it is a huge success because I am not the only one existing but I have the largest coverage in the industry. We currently offer service to almost all the operators in
How important are these services to national development?
As at today, you cannot build FPSO or oil and gas facilities without our company participating. We play a major role in oil and gas development. We are leading in terms of quality control and testing to make sure that a lot of these projects meet international standard.
Nigeria still hires many expatriates in the oil and as sector. How has your organisation helped in conserving foreign exchange in the country and bridge skill gap in the sector?
We have been able to save over $10 billion worth of jobs, which expatriates would have been hired to handle or which would have been taking abroad. If you look at the manpower development aspect of it you have engineers in the country and then if you look at the downtime that you would have send certain materials out of the country to be tested while the projects is waiting and you have a huge number of standby. The cost would have increased. So the role we have played majorly is on quick delivery of projects and reduction of cost. Also by handling these projects in country, many Nigerians have been able to learn on the job and by so doing reducing the number of expatriates that would have been brought into the country. I can say we have been able to cover the 40 per cent local contents participation.
What necessitate the establishment of a wielding institute by your organisation?
Precisely in 2010/2011 when oil and gas was booming, we had a laboratory; we were told that we needed to have a welding engineer in the laboratory. Unfortunately, we had none. I then contacted a South African engineer and because of the crisis in the Niger delta most of the expatriate refused to come into the country. This is because it would be difficult for them to move around.
Why didn’t you engage welders we have across the country?
The roadside welders are not professionals. They don’t have the theory and technical skill.As at 2011 we had no certified wielding engineer in Nigeria. There is a national body, which is called the Nigerian welding institute saddled with the responsibility to coordinate and drive competent engineer training. During President Yaradua declaration in the Niger delta, opportunity was given to train a lot of welders. Most of the welders were sent out of the country and few were trained in the country. Ours came on board in 2013. It was the first accredited welding institute in Nigeria. We have succeeded in training over 25 compared to thousands in France, Germany, India, UK and so on.
As big as the oil and gas industry is in Nigeria, you won’t see more than 30 certified welding engineers in the country. If government supports the programme, it will be less expensive because more than 60 per cent of the lecturers are foreigners and we pay them in dollar. If there is government support, a lot of people will come for the training. If the local content board set a target of welding engineers to be trained, it would be easy.
Nigeria is currently working on building FPSO in-country after the success of egina. How prepared are we?
Nigeria cannot attempt that yet. To build a complete FPSO with a Nigeria team I don’t think it can happen in the next 10 years based on the reality on ground. The institutions, standards are not there. Putting equipment together is not only the thing. We have not even laid a foundation for that. Though with our plan, we expect to create that foundation in the next 10 years. We are currently completing a university and we are strengthening partnership across the world to ensure that this become feasible.