The following article by Emeka Ugwuanyi was published in The Nation on Tuesday, March 12, 2013:

Kaztec Engineering Limited, an oil service company and a subsidiary of the Chrome Group owned by business mogul Sir Emeka Offor is building a fabrication yard at the Snake Island in Lagos.

The Technical Director, Chrome Group, Adebanji Babarinde, told our correspondent at a the oil and gas conference and exhibition in Abuja, that the project is at advanced stage.

The fabrication yard in which the company would be fabricating jackets, topsides, equipment and skills development, is being handled with its technical partners, Addax Petroleum Limited. Barring unforeseen occurrences, the first phase of the fabrication yard would be completed by end of this year while the subsequent phases will be completed by middle and end of next year.

Babarinde spoke on the benefits of the Nigerian Content Act to local companies, poaching of skilled manpower in the industry and what Kaztec Engineering is doing to remain the leading indigenous oil service company in Nigeria.

He said: “We (Kaztec Engineering) see Nigeria oil and gas conference as an avenue to showcase our potential, capabilities and to also encourage others, particularly indigenous people that we have a lot of possibilities in Nigeria.

“On our plans for 2013 and going forward, we want to do what we have been doing better and also to expand. Right now we are putting up a fabrication yard at the Snake Island in Lagos and with that facility we should be able to fabricate jackets, topsides, and develop a lot of talents in the process all within Nigeria. We have some projects we are still doing with our clients and our plan is that we complete those projects on schedule and within cost.

“Some of the ongoing projects include field development for Addax, which involves installation of subsea pipes, topsides, decks, risers platforms and commissioning of facilities. Some may be replacement of pipes, which involves removing old pipes and putting new ones there. The field development is to contribute towards production of more crude oil by Addax.”

On the Nigerian Content Act, he said: “The Act is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria particularly indigenous participation in the oil and gas industry. It has just encouraged local participation. It has helped us really. It is because of the encouragement we received from the Act and the people that are driving the Act that enabled us local people to acquire assets that are very expensive. And we are rest assured that once we have these assets, we have the law backing us up to get jobs from the international oil companies (IOCs) and that is helping. We have been engaged in the Addax job for three years.

“If not for the Local Content Act, this job could have gone to foreigners. We couldn’t have had the courage to put our money in these expensive assets. I think it is one of the best things that have happened and it is something that should be encouraged. We need the right people there, the leadership is good and committed and they need to continue.

“For the fabrication yard, it should be completed in stages. The first phase should be completed by this year, the second stage by middle of next and some end of next year. We are working with Addax as our technical partners to develop the facility.”

On poaching of skilled manpower, he said: “There is nothing you can do about it. The only thing you can do about it is to treat your staff well. It is a free market economy. If you don’t treat your staff well and he gets a better offer, you cannot hold him. There is no law that says you should hold him. So poaching will continue. You must put up a procedure to keep your good staff and it is not a matter of whether you like it or not, just put a procedure to keep your good staff and be able to throw away the bad staff.

“We subject our workforce to regular development through regular managerial, technical and specific training. We also have training that is related to specific job, for instance, if there is any job a member of staff is doing and we found out that there is a gap, we organise training for the staff to close the gap.

“We organise training on safety, which is continuous and very important. We take them through safety training from time to time. If staff’s certificate on particular safety training expires, the person undergoes another training to renew it. We have expatriates and our plan is not to keep expatriates forever because that will be against the Local Content Act. What we do is that for every expatriate we have, one or two Nigerians work with him to understudy him and their progress is monitored.”

The Consultant to Kaztec, Dr. Njideka Kelley, said: “The company is absolutely excellent in terms of compliance with international best practices and standards. What Kaztec is doing to encourage skills development and safety consciousness among staff boils down to our Chairman, Sir Emeka Offor’s aspiration in encouraging and building people and ensuring the best minds are our first assets and secondly safety. Poaching doesn’t happen in our company because of the way we treat our people.”