Energy Mix Report recently caught up with Engineer Wole Ogunsanya, the MD/CEO of a leading indigenous service company, Geoplex Drillteq Limited. In this interview, he gives his persective on the impact of the Nigerian Content Act on local companies thus far.
It has been four years since the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010 was enacted into law. How do you feel the legislation has impacted upon your business activities in this time span?
It has been a mix of challenges and successes. We have had to learn to leverage on the benefits of the Local Content Act to grow our business by expanding our capacity and acquiring better technologies to add greater composite value to the Nigerian economy. We secured strategic partnerships with leading original equipment manufacturers, this has precipitated a gradual but consistent process that would see these OEMs set up assembly plants here which would be run by our personnel. This would improve our local content performance indices and create employment for Nigerians as we position our processes to be compliant to global best practices. In essence, the legislation has impacted positively to our business.
Would you say your technical expertise and capability to handle complex jobs have improved with the inception of the Act?
Technology acquisition and manpower development have been pivotal to our business. We have seen our business grow from a single product line with severely limited capabilities to one that provides solutions to complex problems across diverse terrains from land to deepwater. We have acquired Slickline technology, expanded into Directional Drilling, Well testing, tubular inspection and riser maintenance services. We continually invest in the training and development of our personnel because they are the drivers of our success therefore we ensure they get the knowledge and skills in the industry. Our systems are built on continuous improvement, so we would keep working to get better at what we do. With increase in acquisition of tools and equipment and support from our technical partners, our technical expertise has improved tremendously since inauguration of the Act.
How effective do you feel the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has been in enforcing the Nigerian Content Act and in terms of ensuring that the multinationals comply with the relevant provisions of the Act?
The board so far has been effective in ensuring that multinationals do not drive local companies out of business by their sheer size and tendency towards anti-competitive business strategies, through ensuring that Land / Swamp Contracts are awarded to local companies. However a lot more needs to be done. The board needs to set up a framework that would cause multinationals to transfer expertise and technologies to Nigerians as part of a broader strategy to ensure rapid industrialization of the country.
What are the major challenges your business as well as other indigenous companies are currently facing in terms of patronage from multinationals and as regards the promotion of local content in general?
Multinationals have come to realize that we deliver great value at minimal cost so the initial challenge of trust has been overcome. Our business requires considerably enormous financing to acquire tools and redress parts, interest rates have stood between us and the scope of work which our multinational partners often require. Epileptic power supply has increased our overhead costs and led to depletion of funds which should have been invested in technology acquisition. Indigenous companies are still faced with acquiring required technologies needed in some specialized services due to unavailability of tools in the open market thus invariably providing more opportunities for the multinational service companies with patented tools. With government support in providing adequate infrastructures and basic amenities, I believe we can establish research centers that will facilitate the manufacturing of tools and equipment to meet the industry demand.
What suggestions would you put forward to improve the local Content drive in Nigeria?
Indigenous companies should be granted tax and import duty waivers, this would allow the companies grow their businesses and break even at a sustainable rate. The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board needs to work with banks to set up a special interest rate regime for indigenous contractors, this would improve access to funds for renewed investments in the industry. The government should also provide basic amenities that will facilitate local development of Research centers, manufacturing and fabrication plants that can be used in producing tools and equipment locally within the country.