Experts proffer solutions to Nigeria’s midstream, downstream oil & gas sector

*An oil worker standing next to a gas flare boon.

Mkpoikana Udoma

Port Harcourt — Experts in gas, refining and petrochemical engineering have said that the in-country designing and manufacturing of equipment, tools and components in the oil and gas sector remains the solution to Nigeria’s midstream and downstream challenges.

The experts say in-country engineering, fabrication and production of valves, nuts and bolts, elbows, flanges, pumps, compressors, instruments, pipes, etc. will reduce pressure on foreign exchange, create employments as well groom indigenous technologies for export.

These solutions were proffered at the ongoing 6th International Mid/Downstream Oil and Gas Conference organised by the NLNG Centre for Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Engineering, University of Port Harcourt, with the theme, “Innovation for Sustainable Optimal Operations of existing Oil and Gas Assets in Nigeria.”

The Keynote Speaker and Consultant for Dangote Refinery, Engr. Babajide Soyode, challenged the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB to ensure all oil tools and equipment are manufactured in Nigeria, as well as detailed engineering and design of oil and gas projects, as obtainable in India, China, US etc.

Soyode urged the NCDMB to collaborate with the CGRP and other private organizations to design and fabricate modular refineries from scratch in-country, which can be marketed across Africa.

“We have been building refineries in Nigeria since 1962, but up till date we don’t fabricate a single train, pump, valve, nuts and bolts in Nigeria. The need to import every component is behind the foreign exchange problem in the country. Even a single distillation train is being imported.

“We must begin to manufacture all oil and gas equipment in-country and the time to start is now. We have to get practical, machines for manufacturing of nuts could be imported and nuts and bolts produced here, at least for the modular refineries. We must move from local content to made-in-Nigeria.”

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Also, Chairman of the Governing Board of CGRP and President of Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, Engr Tony Ogbuigwe, urged NNPC Ltd. to ensure that all engineering and design of projects in the oil and gas industry are handled by NETCO (NNPCL’s engineering subsidiary) and other Nigerian engineering firms.

Ogbuigwe advised NCDMB to not only focused on the upstream sector, but to also pay attention to the midstream and downstream sectors.

For his part, the Managing Director of NLNG, Philip Mshelbila, said the company was targeting 2040 for net zero emission.

Mshelbila represented by the NLNG Head, Asset Integrity, Engr. Ikenna Ikonta, listed the challenges facing the company to include pipeline vandalism, Covid19, poor reliability, noting the ongoing Train-7 project, decarbonization and energy transition as its prospects.

For his part, the Managing Director of Indorama-Nigeria, Mr Manish Mundra, represented by the Head, Corporate Communications, Dr. Jossy Nkwocha, said the company was producing 3million metric tons of urea annually, and has put Nigeria on the world’s fertilizer export map.

“With the visit of Mr. President to India, Indorama is expanding, and we are adding a whopping $8billion investment into Nigeria. We have just signed $18billion gas supply agreement with NNPC. We are interested in innovation and expanding our operations. We will continue to ensure that the economy of Nigeria is taken to the next level.”

Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof Georgewill Owunari, said the conference was imperative to provide opportunity for experts to look into the nation’s natural endowments and how they could be harnessed for the benefits of all.

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Owunari represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Charles Opurum, urged participants to key into the wealth of knowledge of the speakers, who he said were well loaded in the field of petrochemical engineering.

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