O&G Free Zones should drive Manufacturing, Research-NCDMB


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Operators of oil and gas free zones in Nigeria should encourage the manufacturing of components for the oil and gas industry and spearhead research activities on their facilities, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Ernest Nwapa has said.

Speaking in Port Harcourt at the just concluded Nigerian Oil and Gas Trade and Investment Forum 2013 organized by Orlean Invest West Africa in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Investment and Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Executive Secretary said free zones need to align their growth and developments with government’s focus on manufacturing so as to create jobs for Nigerians.

While commending the Orlean Group for the massive investment they have made in developing the Onne Free Trade Zone, which includes attracting one hundred and sixty-five companies and the planned development of Phase4B of the port, Nwapa regretted that most of the activities by companies were limited to the service area of the industry.

According to him, “we are not satisfied that we are only doing ten percent of value addition like pipe coating and threading, vessel dry docking, procurement and  logistics support. We need to work with the private sector and push them to begin real manufacturing.

“At the end of the day, we want to see growth in the employment of Nigerians and if we just touch the surface, it won’t benefit the nation sufficiently. We must begin to do manufacturing and make it a demand for those who want to participate here.”

 He expressed delight that some companies operating at the zone had started some manufacturing on the back of Nigerian Content implementation, promising that the industry will see further progress in this regard by next year.

Speaking further, the Executive Secretary said the Board will work with operators of the free zones to set up pupilage programmes akin to what it has developed with the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria to take in young graduates as interns for the purposes of training and employing them.

 “Facilities here need to open up and set up programmes that will bring in young undergraduate to come for attachment because this is the concentration of technology in Nigeria. There are enough shop floors here that can take in hundreds of people and ground them in the practical aspects of the industry.” 

Continuing, Nwapa challenged free zones in Nigeria to encourage Research and Development in their facilities, focusing on optimizing capacity, technology development and innovation.

He also assured that the Board will continue to work with various free zones and create industrial parks that can accommodate Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.

Other speakers at the event like the Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu and Chief Executive Officer of Oando Energy Services, Mr. Dele Badejo harped on the need to lower the cost of operating in the free trade zones and make operations more competitive.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority,  Mr. Victor Alabo and the Group Executive Director, Gas and Power of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. David Ige confirmed that plans were afoot to link the Onne Free Trade Zone with gas, a development that will provide captive power for the zone and consequently lower operating costs as well as engender the development of companies that rely on gas as feed stock.



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