Mazi Bank-Anthony Okoroafor is the Chairman of the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) and the Managing Director of CB Geophysical solutions limited. In this exclusive interview with Orient Energy Review (OER) crew on the sidelines of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) held in Houston Texas, Okoroafor speaks on the newly acquired patent seal of quality, announced at the Panel sessions of the Nigerian Business Forum, he also spoke on a wide range of issues trending in the petroleum industry. Excerpts!
What’s the idea behind the PETAN patent Seal of quality?
The idea behind the patent Seal of quality is that we want to raise the bar on the quality of services we deliver, we want a situation where we would be able to deliver services to any part of the world up to a satisfactory level of quality, HSE and quality; you cannot just come out and say I am proficient in this level of service, there has to be a matrix and that is why we involved worldwide Bureau De Veritas, let’s set matrix so that when you say you can provide any of the services in the entire value chain, they use that matrix to certify you and once you are certified you can deliver that service anywhere. So it is a kind of self cleansing. So the days of just briefcase carrying, saying that you can provide a service when you don’t have the necessary skills, necessary competencies will be over and so that is the idea behind the patent seal of quality.
What led to this, what is the drive behind it?
The reason behind it is that we want PETAN companies to be associated with quality service delivery, to be able to deliver services consistently to the same level of quality because the business should not be done anyhow there has to be a matrix, there has to be a satisfactory level of quality delivery.
Why did you choose Bureau De Veritas, what was the yardstick?
In terms of quality, Bureau De Veritas has set a top standard in quality service delivery in many areas and that is why we selected them.
Are they the only ones that PETAN will partner with, or should we expecting any other inspection agencies?
There are many other agencies but you know when you want to start something, you start with one; give them the trials, if they don’t keep to the standard that they are being known for, you replace them.
Does this in any way speak to a Nigerian standard that you have been talking about?
What we are doing, I don’t want to call it a Nigerian standard, let’s have global standard, yes we must operate global. If calling quality service delivery Nigerian standard is like service delivery must have a particular standard, no, it is global standard. You have to deliver that level of quality anywhere, there is nothing like Nigerian standard or UK standard or US standard, and it is global standard. On the part of the IOC’s, we know that the cash call has been an issue for a while now until last year that an agreement was reached, the cash call exit;
does this in any way impact on the service companies?
First of all the exit of cash call was a good thing because I could remember those days we do services and you will never get paid and when you ask the companies they will say they are waiting on the government, so that is one of the best things that happened in our industry. Now before any of the companies execute or give you a job order or purchase order to come and do any service, they plan for it, they have the money, so you are not going to be worried about anything, nobody will give you excuses because of cash call exit. So I think it is one of the best things NNPC came up with.
How have you been able to handle the issue of single sourcing, how are you tackling it?
We tackle things based on information. You cannot tackle what you do not know. The idea about single sourcing happens when no other person has that technology. I am not aware of situation where something is single sourced when we have available people delivering that service.
Nigeria has a lot of potentials in their service companies; are we considering regional integration? Is there any deliberate plan of action towards helping our African brothers?
Regional integration is good. 75% of people in Africa as a whole do not have access to electricity, so imagine if we can harness all this gas that we are flaring and use it to provide electricity to the entire continent, imagine how much money Nigeria will be generating. Imagine if we can be refining most of our crude oil and selling to the entire African continent. Assuming today we set up to build more bigger refineries and have refining capability of close to 10million barrels per day, we are leaving a lot of money on the table. It is just a strong will, strong infrastructural investment, gets all this gas, provide that power, and sell it. What I see when I look at statistics is opportunities; 75% does not have access to electricity in Africa and we are flaring gas which can run through turbines and generate electricity. So we are by potential a very rich country but in reality a poor country.
Talking about the regional collaboration, some are concerned about your members’ competencies as well as fiscal policies; what do you have to say about that?
On the fiscal policies, somebody asked, let’s take for instance, you have a vessel working in Nigeria and you want to take it to work outside Nigeria and bring it back; somebody said you have to pay so much tax on it. So if as Africans or maybe from the sub region, we can decide to collaborate, work on the fiscals, remove all those bottle necks, ensure free movement of goods and services, free movement of people so that talents can be shared, laboratories can be shared, a lot of things can be shared. But for you to achieve that, people must see what is it in for them, the countries must see a value, if they don’t see a value they may think this country is coming to dominant us, you must see a shared value and once they can see that shared value and they can build that trust, they can open up.
Does that mean you do not support Nigeria’s position of non-signage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement for free flow of trade and services?
I support free trade but for you to sign for free trade, you must be sure that you can deliver some services. If Nigeria goes now and sign free flow of everything maybe the few refined products that we have, some people could possibly smuggle them out. But if on our own we have refining capacity that can feed the whole of Africa, we will sign all agreements. You want to be wary of people taking out what you have produced and then there will be scarcity here, you have surplus. But if there is free movement now, I support free movement of trade but you have to take it in context to your capabilities and your capacities.
For a rare feat like the top side integration of the Egina FPSO, Is PETAN taking advantage of this opportunity to get some young people trained, seeing it’s the first time we are having this kind of scheme. Nigeria is already targeting the next one, what is the plan?
In every year in OTC, we normally run a lot of training programmes short courses. The reason why we did not run this year is that last year there were subsea trainings, a lot of companies identified interest but they didn’t show up. There was a need for that training, special need. PETAN paid I think $50,000 hoping most of these companies and the people they are bringing can offset it but they didn’t show up. They ran $50,000 down the drain. So in skill gap trainings, there has to be genuine desire, no matter what you identified as the skill gap, somebody has to pay for it one way or the other. You cannot bring a specialist with structured programme and now everybody said they are coming and they will pay, a week to OTC no payment and you have already committed. We came here but nobody.
About WAIPEC 2019, what are we expecting from PETAN next year?
Regional integration. WAIPEC 2019 is going to be great. We are going to be bringing basically most of the regional players and we have to start looking at practicalizing most of the things we have been talking about. We are going to bring in the Customs, Legislators, we are going to bring in all those stakeholders that really affect the fiscals we are talking about and the regulations that we are talking about that will make regional collaboration possible or not possible.
What about the countries are we going to be seeing countries from West Africa?
The countries are Ghana, Gambia, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia and Senegal.
What I need to know is what we should be expecting from PETAN, are these efforts going to be taken to other regions like into rural Canada where the PETAN companies, the capacity that you have is being showcased.
Yes, offshore Europe, we would be there, Global Petroleum Show in Canada, we usually attend; remember that every member that is here is paying for their booth; so once we have a critical mass of people that have paid; we would rearing to go because you don’t want to run at a loss.