The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and its Joint Venture (JV) partners on Thursday donated a high-value, multi-million Naira legacy building to the University of Benin’s Centre of Excellence in Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering.
BRANDPOWER reports that the JV partners include the NNPCL, TotalEnergies and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
Inaugurating the well-furnished edifice, the Managing Director of the SPDC, Mr Osagie Okunbor, said the project would fill identified gaps between classroom training of young graduates at the postgraduate level and the actual industrial practice.
This initiative, Okunbor said, would help to make the graduates industry-ready for the upstream oil and gas business.
The Shell managing director, who is an alumnus of the institution, said education was key to development due to its roles in the long-term productivity and growth of any nation.
According to him, Shell companies in Nigeria have a long history of supporting the education of the country’s young population through various initiatives.
These initiatives, he said, sought to invest in initiatives that benefitted the energy sector and improve the socio-economic well-being of the country.
“It is gratifying to note that the centre, since its endowment by SPDC in 2012, has graduated 123 students, out of which 84 per cent are currently gainfully employed, with 44 per cent in major International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria, and 20 per cent in academia.
“Six of the graduates have completed their doctoral programmes in reputable universities in Nigeria, Europe, Asia and Canada, while a good number of them are in various stages of their Ph.D programmes in Nigeria and overseas.
“It is a thing of joy to the NNPCL/SPDC/TotalEnergies/NAOC joint venture, and, I believe, to UNIBEN, that graduates of the centre are snapped up by various companies who have come to appreciate the quality of training offered by the centre,” he said.
Okunbor explained that the centre had received both local and international recognitions in its 10 years of operation.
He added that the top-quality training offered at the centre was manifested in the performance of students in various competitions.
The joint venture, according to him, has continued to sustain its commitment to funding and providing logistics to the centre to sustain its growth.
For instance, he said more than N620 million had been released to the centre since its inception.
He said besides other objectives, the centre was also envisioned to provide research and development solutions to the industry, leveraging the available pool resource, recently granted approval by university’s Senate to offer Ph.D programmes in relevant areas of oil and gas upstream business.
Prof. Lilian Salami, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, who is also the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the centre, said the centre had maintained its mandate of churning out specially-trained, and industry-ready graduates for the energy and allied sectors of the Nigerian economy.
“The centre has consistently brought laurels and honour to the university.
“Its unique capacity to contribute immensely to local content development for the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, through well-structured, industry-focused training in the Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering, is a great source of pride to the university,” the vice-chancellor said.
Salami said that the inaugurated permanent structure and facilities would further facilitate cutting-edge research development and strategic training in the institution .
She, however, urged the JV partners to assist the centre with a 25-room self-contained hostel facility to accommodate the students and external facilitators.