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STAKEHOLDERS BEMOAN DOMINANCE OF FOREIGN TECHNOLGY IN NIGERIA'S OIL, GAS SECTOR

By NBF News

Stakeholders in Nigeria's oil and gas industry have decried the continuous reliance on the deployment of foreign technology in the industry, saying it portends grave danger to the economy and urged the government and private sector to show more committment in bankrolling research and developemnt projects that would produce 'home-made' technology.

The stakeholders, mostly Nigerians, who spoke at an interractive session held at the just-concluded Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Conference in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, said after over 50 years of crude oil exploration and exploitation activities, it was sad that the country could not boast of any technology developed in-country to facilitate jobs in the industry, as everything was imported at exhorbitant cost to the operators.

Managing Director of Shell Nigeria, Mr Mutiu Sunmonu, laid the blame on the poor state of the nation's education sector, saying priority was not given to technological based research and development. It was a trend replicated all over sub-saharan Africa, the Shell boss said.

'I am so worried that we continue to be an import dependent nation. We always look at the short term. We over depend on foreign technolgy from the onshore to the deepwater to unlock our potentials in the industry,' Sunmonu lamented. According to him, the resolution of the problem would best be found in a public/private sector partnership where grants would be given to boost research and development in tertiary institutions.

'The government and private sector should think of how to get into the government must partner with private sector to attract the right technology into the country. 'The government has to take the lead. We must stop relying on foreign technology but, rather, through self effort and partnership, start developing technology to get the best from the industry,' Sunmonu advised.

Prof. D. Appah of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) noted that the universities lacked the right infrastructure for indigenous manpower development and urged that more funds be deployed to improve infractructure in tertiary institutions. 'We need to do more to provide the facilities because we have the people to train others but no facilities in our universities,' he said.

Mr. Alex Neyin, a former manager with Chevron and SPE African Regional Director said government must provide the right environment for research by ensuring stable power supply. Governmment, he said, should also provide rebates and tax incentives to private firms involved in oil and gas research and development projects, while the school system in the country has to be more technology driven.

President of the SPE, Mr. Tony Abolarin, said since most of the projects in the industry was jointly funded by the government and operators, the funding of research should also be jointly undertaken by the two partners in the industry.

'Every dollar spent in the industry is contributed from the Nigerian government and operators; both should also jointly fund research and development because we need to have our technology especially as we are moving more into the offshore,' Abolarin said.