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A GE Oil & Gas project to assemble vital subsea equipment in Nigeria is adding to the Nigeria high tech skills base.

 Last year, a state of the art gas testing tank was built at the GE Oil & Gas Subsea Systems facility in Onne, Nigeria. The tank was the first of such testing facilities in the country.

 Even more importantly, its arrival has allowed the Onne workshop team to start work on a new project – the assembly of subsea ‘Christmas trees’ on the site. They are highly complex pieces of equipment with each ‘tree’ taking months to manufacture, assemble and test. “Christmas Trees” (surface or subsea) are mining equipment named for its crude resemblance to a decorated tree.

Two-part assembled or ‘flat packed’ ‘Christmas trees’ arrived in Nigeria in January 2013 from GE’s Centre of Excellence for subsea tree manufacture in Aberdeen, Scotland. The final 30% of assembly of the 36 ton trees has been undertaken in Onne by a ‘New Generation’ team of Nigerian technicians – a first for the workshop.

 Derek Christie, Regional Services Leader for the GE Oil & Gas Pressure Control System businesshas been leading the knowledge transfer activity for the Nigerian flat pack assembly project.  Derek comments; “Our goal is to create a new generation of Nigerian leaders for the business, develop our employees and maximise our local manufacturing and service capability.”

 The assembly project has taken six months with the first two ‘trees’ on schedule to be delivered to the customer, SNEPCO, in summer 2013.  

 As well as part assembly, the Nigerian team has undertaken various testing operations including in the new gas test tank to ensure the equipment can perform at high pressure. As experience is gained, the Nigerian team will also start to work on additional aspects of tree production such insulating the equipment, manufacturing the tree framework and engineering design.

The arrival of the gas test tank and installation of two new 75 ton cranes for the Onne workshop led to the GE Subsea Systems business gaining a Nigerian Content Equipment Certificate for the subsea equipment, wellhead and Christmas tree assembly facility in Onne.

 The flat pack tree project is just one of a number of local content development projects at Onne.  An Early Career Development Programme is now in place with the first tranche of 15 Nigerian graduates participating in the scheme.  There are plans to recruit more technical trainees in the next few months to add to the number of Nigerian service technicians. 



 Chimaroke Ibeh and Cynthia Boyle are two Nigerian graduates who have recently joined the training programme in Onne as trainee workshop engineers.

Chimaroke gained a first degree in electrical and electronic engineering in Nigeria before undertaking a master’s degree in the UK.  He worked in a project management role for another oil and gas service company before joining GE.


Figure 1– Chimaroke Ibeh, Graduate Engineer at Onne service shop

 For Chimaroke the new role at GE is an opportunity for him to apply his engineering education in a practical way. “It has been a chance to get back into core engineering and develop my technical skills in areas such as welding for example”, says Chimaroke. The graduate scheme includes rotations in a number of departments with Chimaroke already gaining experience in the logistics, welding, rental tools and the flat pack tree department. Speaking about his period in the flat pack tree department he said; “When you are studying you see all this stuff in the books but it is great to actually fix these pieces of equipment and work with them for real. You cannot beat it”, says Chimaroke.  He continued; “It is brilliant. It is something I enjoy and feel very passionate about.”

“It is a very open environment here”, he adds.  “You can ask lots of questions so you learn about things faster.”

In terms of future plans Chimaroke says; “It is about developing my skills as a control engineer in particular. I want to become a project leader in the future.”

 Cynthia Boyle studied engineering at the University of Benin before joining the GE graduate programme in Onne. Her previous engineering job was more desk and computer based.  Cynthia is also pleased with how the GE graduate programme is helping her apply her engineering knowledge in a practical way.  She said, “I am very interested in control equipment and I have been learning a lot about this area. I have done a lot of pressure tests and sampling already, where we sample the lines to see they are working well. I am learning a lot about control processes.”


Figure 2-Cynthia Boyle, Graduate Engineer at Onne service shop

Cynthia says the best part of the job so far has been seeing how every department comes together at the Onne facility to deliver service and products to the customer. She said; “That has been the real joy for me, to see how everything works together and connects between the workshop and the other departments.”

 Cynthia’s long-term goal is to become a design engineer. She says; “My goal over the next few years is to gain more experience. I would like to become a design engineer looking at control design.”



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