The oil and gas industry has witnessed a major reconciliation of two major oil service firms – West African Ventures Corporation (WAV), a local company and Sea Trucks Group, an international oil company. The dispute lasted for over two and half years.
The disagreement arose when the oil industry slumped globally in 2015 and made it difficult for firms to meet their financial obligations. Many oil firms sacked their employees, cancelled and deferred projects. WAV and STG, which were partners, unfortunately, was caught in the web and consequently fell apart.
The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), an arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had to intervene to resolve the issues to close the gaps created by the feud, including restoring their operations to create employment and boost local capacity.
After several meetings with the management of WAV, STG, NCDMB and NAPIMS, the two disputing firms agreed to work amicably again. The resolution led to signing of completion of settlement agreement in Lagos with industry regulators and operators present.
NCDMB Executive Secretary, Mr. Simbi Wabote, commended the resolution, saying it is a win-win for the industry.
He said: “In every business endeavour, there are disagreements and individual interests but the most important thing is having the mindset to settle through dialogue rather than getting through legal tussle that will last for a very long time that will create a lose-lose for everybody. So, if businesses see people with integrity and reputation, they want to bring in to enable them settle any of their rift, they should settle should bring those people in and be able to sit round the table and iron out their individual differences rather than resorting to legal battles that will last forever. So, my advice to businesses that are in conflict is to create the opportunity to dialogue because for every problem, there is solution.
“The significance of the peace agreement and decision to work together amicably going forward is to correct the impression outside the country where people believe that coming to invest in Nigeria as an international business will only leave you to lose your investment and assets. This shows we can amicably resolve our issues. Any foreign investor who wants to come here has a mechanism for dispute resolution, which this agreement has shown that it could work. STG is an international company and WAV is a local company, they had issues but they got the services of NCDMB and NAPIMS and other mediators to be able to resolve it. So, there exists in the country mechanism to resolve issues like this between international and local company. The message is that you come and invest. You will probably lose your investment because you will not be protected, but be assured that regulatory agencies, such as NCDMB, will protect investments that come into this country.”
WAV Managing Director Mr. Michael Dumbi Amaeshike said: “The agreement brought great relief because the West Africa Ventures Corporation is vital to the industry. It has always provided marine services to the industry and it is the number one marine service company. In the past two and halve years, it has been difficult to provide those services and the industry has been impacted by this dispute, therefore, to be here today and to signal an end to that dispute is very significant to me and the oil and gas industry.”
On the impact of the dispute on WAV workforce, he said: “We have a sizeable number of staff, but unfortunately, we had to let go of a significant number. We still have a huge number, over 1600 employees on our payroll. Going forward with the development in the industry, we are confident that as we go back into the industry to participate in all the projects that are coming up, we will be thinking of more employees. At a time before the drop in oil price worldwide, we had over 3000 employees.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Telford Offshore, the representative of STG, said the amicable resolution of the dispute was significant to the industry, promising that the firms will promote local content and capacity development.