Uche Usim, Abuja
Efforts to deepen productivity in the oil and gas sector crystallized recently when the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, (PTDF) announced a strategic partnership with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) and the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board, (NCDMB) to build facilities in key locations across the country to promote researches dedicated to taking the industry to the next level.
Speaking at the PTDF National Board of Trustees’ Meeting on Endowment, Executive its Secretary, Mr. Bello Gusau, lamented the absence of key research facilities, paucity of funds, slow releases of approved funds and other challenges had slowed the momentum of growth in the sector.
He charged the Board to urgently tackle the twin-challenge of lack of funding and absence of research facilities for the betterment of the country.
He said: “There is this complain we have been coming across since the life of the PTDF, which is that we cannot do research if we do not have the necessary facility to do that.
“The fact of the matter is that I have seen that in many of the instances that we listed. There are instances whereby people have to go to some other countries to access facilities. This should not be the case. One of the things I really want us to put on the table in the cause of this meeting is how do we take care of that problem? What do we do about that? We have had a few meetings in the last six months, we are trying to bring many industry players together.
“Presently, the NNPC Research and Development Department is on board; the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board, NCDMB is on also. We want to work together to see how we can make facilities available for researches across the country, especially those researches that are dedicated to the oil and gas industry. I am hoping this meeting would kick-start that process.”
Gusau further stated that the plan for setting up the research facilities, beginning with about two or more, had been going on for some time now, among the PTDF, NNPC and NCDMB and had reached advanced stages.
According to him, if the country had such facility in centralized location, researchers from across Nigeria would come and avail themselves of such facilities to conduct their research.
He said, “NNPC is a big organization and they have a well-established research and development department; and we have just commenced that process of identifying key research issues relating to domesticating technology in the oil and gas industry that we can pursue together.
“Funding is one of the challenges for all institutions; but we have to do with what we have. The important thing is to appreciate how important the problem is and decide within the little that you have, what you allocate to that programme.”
Also speaking Manager, Strategic Planning, Research and Documentation of the PTDF, Mr. Olayinka Agboola, said the Board had recorded a number of achievements, such as the inauguration and commencement of the Nigeria Zeolite Working Group, NZWG, for research commercialization and industrial Park Initiatives and had also registered two Intellectual Property Rights and Patents in Zeolite biodiesel.
He, however, listed some of the challenges confronting the Board to include funding constraints because of lack of releases of PTDF operating allocations; inadequate industry support for research products and programmes in-country and the delay in release of funds to the Chairs by Institutions due to the Treasury Single Account, TSA, policy of the Federal Government.