What our industry needs is players with a long-term mindset in order to make the industry of tomorrow more sustainable.


Helping Nigerian players reach market standards

March 4, 2021

Ohioze Unuigbe, managing director of Bureau Veritas Nigeria, talks to The Energy Year about the progression of projects in Nigeria and the company’s key activities in the market. Bureau Veritas Nigeria is the local arm of global testing, inspection and certification services company Bureau Veritas.

How would you assess the industry’s project-based progression in Nigeria?
Over recent years, there has not been much investment in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. The last major FID we had was in 2008, which was for Total’s Egina project. However, we have managed to turn the corner, and now the country is shifting away from the traditional oil-based rhetoric and pivoting more towards gas-based ventures.
Among the current projects, we have a lot more that are gas focused. For example, we have the ANOH gas project, jointly developed by Shell and Seplat; the AKK gas pipeline, which will supply gas to northern Nigeria; and NLNG’s Train 7. These are three FIDs that have emerged in the market recently that will change the country’s gas scenario. Once these projects pick up steam, the Nigerian industry will undergo a short-term boom.

What lessons has the hydrocarbons industry learnt from this downturn?
The lessons learnt can be tied to the concept of local content. Nigeria is looking for companies that come in and invest locally. Before, we had many firms that would come into the country, win works and try to execute them abroad. One finds that many of those companies no longer exist, but those foreign firms who came and invested in the nation, trained Nigerians and built local capabilities are still present.
Therefore, what we have learnt is that the Nigerian market is looking for long-term committed investors that will invest not only in the commodity itself but also in Nigerian people. What our industry needs is players with a long-term mindset in order to make the industry of tomorrow more sustainable.


From the array of services Bureau Veritas offers to the industry, which are currently the most in demand?
The demand for shop inspection and remote inspection has increased over recent years. The country relies on foreign products as many are not produced in-country, which means that all this imported equipment must undergo strict statutory testing. Due to our extensive global presence, we can carry out remote inspections, while other players would have to send their teams to witness the tests prior to the product being delivered to Nigeria.
We have also developed our own “smart glasses” technology, where instead of flying in an expert to witness a particular test, we can send a local engineer wearing smart glasses connected to this foreign expert. This means that we can leverage that person’s expertise remotely. We recently did a demonstration for DPR [Department of Petroleum Resources] as we aim to establish this technology in the market.

What are some of the key projects you have been carrying out in the market?
We aim to solidify our testing, inspection and certification services. In terms of certification, we have certified [NNPC EPC subsidiary] NETCO to ISO 9001 standards. We have worked with them for the last 20 years, making sure their certification standards are up to scratch.
Similarly, last year the Port Harcourt refinery became the first African refinery to be granted ISO 9001 certification. We carried out a rigorous process with them to achieve this milestone, which has greatly improved their systems.
NNPC might be thinking about implementing IMS [integrated management system] systems across all their business units, which is an ambitious task we are willing to undertake. We are following several tenders that have been carried out over the last year, and hope to be selected.
On the side of inspection, we find plenty of ageing oil and gas facilities that require urgent check-ups not only to comply with regulatory standards but also to enhance their operational performance. This is a market we are looking into as we see huge potential.

How will the development of marginal fields open up new avenues for testing and inspection?
The development of these fields will require a lot of infrastructural investment – and more, given the current bet on natural gas, which lacks infrastructure such as pipelines. Therefore, this would mean an increase in the demand for certain services like NDT [non-destructive testing] services. We at BV would be interested in this market.
In addition, the emergence of new players will boost the need for maintenance. We would also be looking at baselining their equipment with statutory inspections. Likewise, there is also a lot of statutory equipment such as pressurised vessels which requires inspection, so we will be focusing more on this area. At the same time, we aim to work hand-in-hand with both these new players and also local regulators in order to help players come up to standards fast.

What role and position do you see the company taking within the market in the coming years?
We aim to solidify our position as an independent testing, inspection and certification company that helps local players reach market standards.
Nigeria is a melting pot so it does not matter whose system or which system we are adopting. We have firms coming from all parts of the world and all have totally different standards. BV is present in all of these countries and thus understands all the pros and cons. Our aim is to act like a neutral intermediary between all these players and the regulator. For example, with the development of new marginal fields, the actors involved will have to set standards for their new facilities and we can help them.
All in all, we are trying to be the safety partner of choice which can help firms make independent and informed decisions regardless of the standards that they have set for themselves. We think globally but act locally, and this is crucial when playing this role.

Read our latest insights on: