Following the discovery and commencement of crude oil exploration in Lagos State, how is the state looking to develop indigenous manpower in this sector?
I want to say that of all factors of production; land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship, the human capital is the most important of all. It is not resources and it is not money but creativity, skills added with technology that can produce a sustainable economy and indeed a sustainable oil and gas space and that is what Lagos state is focusing on. We are pleased that you are helping the Nigerian economy and I know very quickly you will be helping the Lagos economy too as we move deeper into our oil and gas operation. As you are all aware, Lagos state is the newest oil and gas producing state in Nigeria courtesy of the discovery of crude oil in the Aje field OML 113 offshore and this is the first oil found outside of the Niger Delta. There is a great expectation among Lagosians that the discovery of this hydro carbon should translate to massive investment in the state and contribute to our GDP and as well as diversify our revenue base. However this can only be achieved if the state is able to approach the process of exploration, production, distribution, logistics and safety in a very structured and environmentally viable manner and this is where the contribution of your medium becomes very critical to our oil and gas ambition.
In Lagos state, the association’s performance in human capital development will help the state avoid the unintended consequences that comes with oil and gas activities like we are witnessing in the Niger Delta presently.
What other area is the state looking at developing manpower?
For us, what we have at the moment is an academy owned by the state which was set up to focus on electricity and power related issues and it is attached to our Lagos state electricity board.
But following the discovery of oil and gas and the interactions we have been having with the stakeholders in the sector, the state has decided to upgrade the Academy from being an electricity training academy to an energy academy that will deal with issues with human capital development in the power sector and as well as in the oil and gas sector.
The intention of this energy academy is to make sure that we can collaborate with associations to focus on regulation and monitoring to the extent that it does not offend people at the federal level because at the federal level, they have a lot of things to deal with, but in Lagos state we must also complement their efforts by doing those things that the regulators and trainers should be doing.
The state has also established a fully staffed oil and gas company, a for-profit organization that will go into businesses in the upstream, midstream and downstream. I am sure a lot of OGTAN members will be interested in collaborating with that company because they need a lot of human capital development initiatives. They are new as they started less than six months ago. So, we will be collaborating with the association in this regards also.
Some new oil and gas fields are springing up; what are the prospects for the state?
For us in the state, we see a correlation between oil and gas and power and what we see is a situation where you cannot even generate one kilowatts of power without having gas to sustain it. That is why we are excited about the prospect of this Agip fields, Yego fields as well as all other fields we see along the coast of Lagos.
So we will like to advise that OGTAN join us in strengthening the advocacy for the federal authorities to quickly allocate some of these oil fields that have been there for years, now that we know that there is oil and gas in the state. It is important that we allocate as many of them as possible to operators who can raise money and bring out oil and gas because for us in Lagos we have an ambition to do up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity that we will keep in Lagos to power the Lagos economy.
And from an energy security point of view, it is also critical for us that the gas that will power the 3,000 megawatts over the next 5-7 years must be gas that comes from within the soil of Lagos.
On the plan by the Lagos state government to collaborate with associations like OGTAN; what do we intend to achieve by this, in the area of building local content?
What we intend to achieve is in three phases. One, we believe that human capital development is key, both in the oil and gas industry and the power industry. Now by collaborating with OGTAN, we will be in the position to develop the inner capacity of our people and to ensure that we take less of our foreign exchange outside Nigeria and that is what this is about. And we have an academy that they can collaborate with and jointly, we will put the curriculum together and we are going to make sure that our people get the necessary skills.