Ese Avanoma, BRADE Group CEO

The major push to produce oil cheaper appears to be a formidable force for change.


In Nigeria, a formidable force for change

January 13, 2021

Ese Avanoma, managing director of BRADE Group, talks to The Energy Year about how Nigeria is benefitting from local content and how the company is readying for a greatly expanded workload in 2021. BRADE Group is an indigenous company that provides project management, drilling and completion services, as well as marine and EPCI services to the oil and gas industry.

In what ways is Nigeria reaping the benefits of local content?
The Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act of April 2010 has increased local participation in the industry, giving first consideration to Nigerian independent operators and service providers with a resultant growth contribution to the economy. Local content capacity has grown Nigerian content from less than 10% in 2010 to 32% in 2020, while it aims to hit the 70% mark come 2027. That is commendable.
The local content policy has promoted indigenous capacity, participation, and development through skills transfer and ownership of oilfields and facilities. Nigerian companies provide drilling and completion fluid services, slickline services, wireline and cased hole logging services, directional drilling, cementing and other well delivery services. Nigerian companies are reaching out to set up pipe mills and workshops to cater to the industry. Several fabrication yards have been built and are currently run 100% by Nigerians. Examples are LADOL and Aveon yards, where major jobs for the IOCs have been concluded successfully.
It is difficult not to acknowledge the immense benefits of local content in the country today. Nigerians are becoming entrepreneurs daily, creating businesses and not just looking for work, all thanks to the encouraging local content environment. Local content has also encouraged infrastructural growth and development in the country. The emphasis is on manufacturing locally and importing, thus creating work and employment for Nigerians.
The challenge for many developing countries is access to capital. The effect is also felt in the oil and gas industry. In this aspect, the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund, administered by the Bank of Industry, has accomplished major milestones as it supports local industry players – the AKK project, the recently commissioned Waltersmith modular refinery and the Azikel Refinery in Bayelsa state are examples. The current local content management board successfully increased the fund from USD 200 million to USD 350 million.
BRADE Group is compliant with the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s local content initiatives; it is 100% owned and managed by Nigerians.

To what extent is the industry becoming less static and more open to change?
One could say that the local oil and gas industry is resistant to change. However, a major push to produce oil cheaper, partly as a consequence of the low oil price environment, appears to be a formidable force for change. Companies are working more efficiently, adapting newer and better ways, and are using technology to produce oil with less cost to the international market.
The target currently championed by NNPC is a USD 10-per-barrel cost of production. Companies are continuously looking at their operations and adopting cost-saving methods in production processes. Other areas where new technologies are adopted and resulting in significant changes include water injection and reservoir management (e.g., SEA BOX-SWIT technology), application of data analytics and digitalisation of processes.

What type of projects have you been carrying out for SEPLAT in the area of OCTG?
BRADE has two ongoing contracts with SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company in Nigeria. We have supported SEPLAT drilling operations with OCTG services and other well delivery services since 2012. This will continue through 2021. Our manpower services to SEPLAT have also continued over these years. Our goal is to set up a facility for OCTG in Nigeria. This will not only reduce cost and generate employment but also support the local content drive. Our efforts, we hope, will attract the support of the NCDMB [Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board].


What capacity do you have for managing the upcoming opportunities in the market?
There is arguably a surge of activities expected in 2021-2022 in the upstream oil and gas industry, among which is the NLNG Train 7 startup and other billion-dollar projects with Shell (HI, HA, and Bonga SWAP). The recently concluded marginal field exercise adds to the flurry of activities expected. We supported some bidding operators in the exercise.
One of our core strengths is project management. Our seasoned in-house professionals with global work experience have the competence to provide innovative well delivery services, marginal field development and rehabilitation and reservoir management studies, etc. that will improve the operating capacities of marginal field operators and realise production in record time and at reasonable production costs.
Since 2019, we have been providing multi-disciplinary EPCI services including feasibility/ conceptual studies, front-end engineering design (FEED), detailed engineering design (DED), procurement and logistics services, fabrication/construction support, transportation and installation, hook-up and commissioning, asset integrity and project management. Combining our project management expertise and portfolio with relationships with several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) gives us an advantage in providing this service to the industry.
Our vibrant team of truly talented employees have relevant and extensive experience, with highly skilled and competent technical leadership, safety culture, integrity, commitment and, most importantly, our passion to do things excellently at every opportunity.

Given the upcoming development of marginal fields, what is needed to reduce drilling costs?
There are two areas in the control of marginal field operators. The first is to focus on using experienced project managers and drilling personnel with a proven track record. This cannot be overemphasised. The integrated project management (IPM) model developed by some service companies in the North Sea around 1995-1997 has worked perfectly. Turnkey drilling services contracts awarded to reputable project management companies are a plausible alternative to reduce drilling costs.
These two solutions eliminate any need for marginal field operators to set up in-house structures for drilling operations. This way, they can focus more on managing the asset, the field itself. Setting up “one-man structures” in-house to handle complex drilling operations does not work. A drilling engineer remains a drilling engineer and cannot take the job of a petrophysicist, and vice-versa.
Another important way to cost reduction is planning. As simple as the word is, the bane of many struggling E&P operators is the inability to plan properly. Planning properly means: firstly, getting the right people for the job; secondly, acquiring extensive technical design analysis before conceptualisation and definition (front-end loading); and thirdly, undertaking risk analysis. Locally, we are a very optimistic people, and that’s a big plus. But this does not rule out the need to plan. The oilfield is a high-risk environment. There is no room to overlook potential risks or cut corners. Proper planning is a guaranteed path to cost reduction. Lastly, optimising design and the use of newer technologies can also aid efficiency in drilling costs.

What is the strategy behind your BRADE Petroleum & Energy Services subsidiary?
BRADE Petroleum & Energy Services (BPES) was set up to provide EPCI, marine logistics, topside and subsea engineering services to E&P operators. Recent super-size projects such as NLNG Train 7 and Shell Bonga SWAP have created huge growth potential in these areas where BPES plays. The volume of fabrication in these projects will require top-notch engineering and project management expertise. That’s when BRADE gets involved.

In what ways are you solidifying your presence across the African continent?
BRADE Group has six subsidiaries, two of them (BOGL and BWAL) in Uganda and Ghana. Recently, sub-Saharan oil and gas operators have relied on the expertise of Nigeria’s government and its experienced oil and gas industry to support the execution of projects in other African countries. Armed with global expertise, in BRADE we deliver projects with high service quality in these countries.
We recently participated in two major tender opportunities from the Tilenga Upstream Project for Total E&P in partnership with TMK Russia. We are firming up partnership agreements with more OEMs to deliver projects across Africa, like the Lake Albert development. Our current footprint across Africa is a launchpad into other parts of the continent.

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