Like many graduates in Nigeria, 29-year-old Vivian found it difficult to find work after completing her engineering degree. Employers, she says, prefer experienced professionals: “It was hard for young graduates like me to compete.”
But Vivian was determined to succeed. Three years after leaving university in 2011 she won a place on a 15-month training programme with engineering and construction contractor Saipem. The programme was run on behalf of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) to develop local skills for the oil and gas industry.
Vivian earned the chance to work as an engineer on SNEPCo’s Bonga North West deep-water project, which began production in August 2014.
After three months in the classroom Vivian spent a year gaining valuable experience in the field. She learned how to manage multiple contractors and how to engineer materials for safe installation in deep water.
“The chance to work on Bonga North West was fantastic and it changed my life,” Vivian said.
Building up local expertise
SNEPCo has long been a driving force in the introduction and development of skills, technology and expertise in the Nigerian energy sector. In Nigeria, 95% of the 4,000-plus Shell employees are Nigerian.
Similarly, 90% of the people who worked on the Bonga North West project during its four-year development were Nigerian. And SNEPCo awarded all five of the major engineering and construction contracts for Bonga North West to companies that were either indigenous, have local staff, or invest in the country.
The five companies completed the project ahead of schedule, with no reported injuries to staff during 4.16 million hours of work.
One of them is Weltek, the Nigerian engineering and construction firm which SNEPCo selected to do all the expansion and modification work on the huge Bonga FPSO.
“We have been working with SNEPCo for about 25 years,” managing director Pedro Egbe said. “But this project is the highlight. It has helped our employees to further develop their skills and for us to grow as a company.”
At 300 metres, the existing Bonga production vessel is about the same length as three soccer fields. Weltek had to design, build and install new equipment on the facility’s decks to tap into the North West reservoirs without interrupting output from the existing Bonga field.
“Shell has helped us to upgrade our facilities and to attain the quality and safety standards necessary for a project of this magnitude,” Pedro said.
Watch a short film to see Joey Uyanwuye, Project Manager for Bonga North West, describe how the project has brought much-needed jobs, training and business for local people.