Oil drilling, well completion and production enhancement require the use of several chemicals known as oilfield chemicals. Most of the chemicals currently being used in Nigeria and other African countries where oil has been discovered are imported. The raw materials for these chemicals are available locally in large quantities and could be sourced, processed for use in oilfield operations. Despite huge investments made by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the oil and gas sector of the economy, an average of US$10 billion per annum, its contribution to GDP growth had been very minimal.
This is largely due to low research efforts in raw material development in-country. The abandonment of research in this area has robbed the nation of enormous opportunities to create jobs, generate new knowledge and develop skills. The International Oil Companies (IOCs) ignore Nigerian universities and rely on research Centres in their home countries. This is an avoidable export of jobs and encourages capital flight from the country for oil and gas research activities.
The aspiration of the Federal Government of Nigeria is to increase indigenous participation in the oil and gas industry, build local capacity, create linkages to other sectors of the national economy and thereby boost industry contributions to the growth of our National Gross Domestic Product. One of the ways of actualizing this dream will be to encourage and fund in-country researchers and universities on local raw material development. This will be a win-win for the Universities, the Oil industry and the Country.
Moreover, many African countries have now discovered oil and collaborative research efforts among the Universities in the continent will enhance capacity building, provide platform for quality training and applied research to address these regional challenges and promote specialization among participating universities. The University of Port Harcourt, through her strategic research plan and as a leading Centre of Excellence in petroleum studies, has cream of experts and renowned researchers to address this need of in-country oilfield chemicals research and development.
In line with the World Bank’s mandate for establishing the African Centre of Excellence in Uniport, within the first six months of operation of the Centre, about 60 students from Nigeria and other African countries are embarking on their Ph.D programme. More than 50 faculty members have benefited from short courses organized by the Centre that will enhance their entrepreneurial and research capabilities.
In the nearest future, there will be research breakthroughs and harvest of patents.
This will surely position the University of Port in the annals of history as a Centre of Excellence.
Professor Ogbonna F. Joel
Centre Leader, World Bank African Centre of Excellence in Oil field Chemicals Research