‘Growing local capacity, technology advancement crucial to unlocking West Africa’s oil potential’

FOR the West African sub-region to optimally benefit from its abundant hydrocarbon resources, the need to heavily invest in local capacity and technology advancement has been stressed.

   Specifically, the organisers of the just concluded 19th Offshore West Africa Conference and Exhibition (OWA), PennWell International called for deeper input of indigenous operators in the quest to unlock the potentials in major oil and gas projects in the region.

  The Managing Director, PennWell International, Glenn Ensor, told The Guardian yesterday that the company has recorded tremendous success in this year’s event, with great ideas pointing at a bright future for the industry.

   According to him, bringing the conference to Lagos was a brilliant decision by the company, considering the fact that Lagos is the business hub of Nigeria, and indeed, the entire West African region.

  Ensor therefore declared that the 20th edition of OWA would return to Lagos, Nigeria between 22nd and 24th of March, 2016 at the prestigious Eko Hotel and Towers.

 Offsore West Africa has over the years delivered the premier technical forum exclusively on West African exploration and Production, charting ways to develop the vast potential that exists within the region.

  “That decision has made the conference to record another feat and attendance record of about 2,350 people. The exhibitors had a wonderful experience including the major players such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell, Total among others. They are also hoping to make it for the next edition and we are ready to host them along other major players. 

   “We will be back in Lagos next year, and we are feeling so happy about being here. Its our strategic intention to anchor the event in Lagos from now on,” he said.

  On security concerns, he said: “When people look at Nigeria from abroad, they entertain fears due to the bad news in the headlines.

   “Obviously our stay here in Lagos has exposed to us that Nigeria is a big and peaceful country and we feel very secured here. 

   “We are very confortable and we have met very friendly people. As far as security is concerned we had been very skeptical about things, but now we feel very fine and welcomed into the country.”

    The Chief Editor, Conferences Editorial Director, David Paganie, said the next year’s event would be themed: “Positioning for a Sustainable Future”.

   According to him, there are major projects springing up in West Africa amid several industry scenario such as the declining crude prices.

  He therefore urged the region to factor more mechanisms in place so as to fully actualize the development of projects.

  Paganie, who established that West African region has so much hydrocarbon potentials, said the various governments should develop its indigenous capacity and work together with the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to develop their deep-water fields.

   He said the sliding oil prices may not hinder the development of such major projects, because the IOC have experienced such drastic decline in oil prices previously.

   “This thing has happened so many times in the past where prices go down and come back up, so, the companies involved (IOCs) will be around for ever, they have gone through this before and they can do it again. Unfortunately some other challenges keep coming up, which are needed to be addressed. The industry will overcome the challenges and the prices will go up. 

   “I think one of the key advice for the region is to keep investing in its people and technology because companies needed to be prepared for the aspired growth,” he said.

  Paganie therefore urge Nigerian legislator to ensure quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), so as to move the industry forward.

   “We need to develop more local capacity for fabrication facilities, new engineering firms, because the major projects are going to need their services,” he said.

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