The Managing Director, Danvic Petroleum International, Dr Mayowa Afe, in this interview with ‘FEMI ASU, stresses the need to bridge the gap between the nation’s oil and gas industry and the academia
Crude oil prices plunged from a peak of $115 per barrel in 2014 to as low as $27 in 2016. How significant was the impact of the decline on employment in the Nigerian oil and gas industry?
Of course, it did affect so many companies. I can tell you that many companies tried to lower their costs. But there are lessons that we have learnt that will be good for us. There are some things we took for granted but we found out that when the low oil price came, there were hard lessons that we learnt. The slump made us to be more prudent in the management of our resources. And I think even coming out of the low oil price regime, these lessons are still very useful for us. If we employ the things that made us survive the low oil price regime now that we have increased oil price, we will blossom more. Now, I think those lessons are with us and we cannot do without them.
With oil price hovering around $78 per barrel, do you think there would be increased employment by oil companies?
Quite a lot of things will improve now. During the low oil price environment, the first thing people cut off was training. Now, we are seeing an improved training opportunity; things are changing. When you have a low oil price regime, there are things that have to go first. All you need to do is to maximise and optimise your production. So, many companies at that time were not thinking of training and exploration activity. The oil rig count came down drastically. But the oil rig count is over 20 in Nigeria right now. There is hope now that quite a lot of activities will improve and we will attempt to also improve our reserves base and make attempt at more exploration activities. These will lead to more employment. A lot of people will be hired; companies will now have the capacity to carry out some of the projects hey abandoned.
What are stakeholders doing to close the gap between the industry and the academia?
The gap is being bridged. Some companies had to set up schools to train Nigerian graduates. Shell set up Shell Intensive Training Programmeto be able to train Nigerian graduates before employing them. Companies like ExxonMobil put in place scholarships to send Nigerians abroad and hire from them. Even some companies were not recruiting from Nigerians; they were going abroad to recruit Nigerians who schooled abroad. The fact is that when Nigerians go to any universities abroad, they come out with flying colours. So, the question is not whether Nigerians are brilliant, the problem is our system that is not adequate. But I can tell you that in the last 10 years, there have been a lot of interventions that have brought significant improvement into the universities. I am glad to tell you that the gap is tremendously closing.
We have set up Danvic Petroleum Geoscience School, which is involved in training graduates from Nigerian universities, and they are in several phases. Some of them can come here for two weeks; some for one month and some for six months. We expose them to the latest technology in the oil and gas industry. We have sent invitations to companies and most of them are coming here to help us to train the students. For example, Nigerian Agip Oil Company’s Human Resource Department is coming here next week to interact with the students to let them know the things that interviewers require of them during interviews. We are also exposing the students to entrepreneurship because the government or the oil companies cannot employ everybody. So, you might see a geologist setting up a fashion house.
Even if all the graduates that are coming out of Nigerian universities are of good quality, the industry cannot employ all of them. So, we are also preparing them for life after the universities. You can be a petroleum engineer but you can do other things. There are a lot of opportunities for business along the value chain. We also teach them leadership skills.
What has Danvic Petroleum International achieved so far since the inception of the school?
Today, we are graduating the second set of our students who have been with us for the last six months, and they have learnt about petroleum geoscience. We are confident that if all of them are interviewed today, they are fit for employment. Some of them have already been employed already. After the training, we normally send the names of our students to companies for consideration for employment. I am glad to tell you that some of those graduating today resumed work on July 2. Our objective is to want to make Nigerian graduates employable. We not only do professional training here, we also do entrepreneurship and leadership training. We expose people to opportunities. We give them global certifications that they can use to work in Ghana, Kenya and other countries. We need to expand their horizons, and be able to export some Nigerian graduates. If they have global certifications, they can work anywhere. A lot of African countries are now exploring and producing oil, and not all of them have sufficient human resources. And Nigeria has the human resources that they can take advantage of. So, one way we do that is to train graduates and give them global certifications. We partner with companies abroad so that we can leverage their technology and presence globally.
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