By TAYO ELEGBEDE
Sixty-four years after the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities at Oloibiri, Bayelsa State by Shell Darcy, the Federal Government in collaboration with the Bayelsa State Government and Shell Petroleum and Development Company (SPDC) have started the establishment of an Oil and Gas Museum and Research Center in the town.
The symbolic project was yesterday launched by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, along side the inauguration of key project committees and setting of delivery timelines by the Minister.
The project is jointly promoted by four key institutions, namely the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Shell Petroleum and Development Company (SPDC) and the Bayelsa State Government.
Speaking at a virtual event which had the leadership of the participating entities in attendance, the Minister stated that the Oil and Gas Museum and Research Center presented a unique opportunity to correct a historical oversight, noting that the museum would preserve the heritage and developments in the oil sector, similar to what is obtainable in other oil producing nations.
The minister outlined the project execution plan, noting that the project would be fast-tracked, with pre-construction activities lasting for 8 months while actual construction should be completed within 36 months from the date of commencement.
Recalling that the project had been on the drawing board for over three decades, the Minister commended President Muhammadu Buhari for granting his approval in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impact.
“Mr. President approved the establishment of the Oloibiri Museum and Research Center (OMRC) as part of his signature programs that would leave behind enduring legacies and impact the oil and gas community, the people of the Niger Delta.”
Meanwhile the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote explained that PTDF would contribute 40 percent of the project cost while NCDMB and SPDC would provide 30 percent and 20 percent respectively, with Bayelsa State Government providing the balance of 10 percent.
Wabote said the partners would contribute the take off funds, conduct design competition, conduct feasibility studies, establish project cost and take final investment decision and commence construction.
The Bayelsa State Governor , Senator Douye Diri gave the state Government’s commitment, pledging to support the project by providing the enabling environment for its success and sustenance.
Giving details of the project, Sylva explained that “it consists of the construction of a Museum where historic developments, data, equipment, and tools used in the Nigerian oil and gas industry will be stored for posterity and the construction of a functional Research Center where prototypes can be tested and validated in fulfillment of the requirement for approval of new technologies.”
He expressed hope that the Research facility will close a major gap in the nation’s quest for homegrown technology inputs required to service Exploration and Production activities in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
“To ensure sustainability, the project adopted a development model that will leverage the benefits of public-private partnership, inter-agency collaboration, and inter-governmental alignment, so as to optimise resource utilisation and ensure that the Oloibiri monument meets international standards,” he added
In his comments, the Managing Director and Chairman SPDC, Mr. Osagie Okunbor noted that the history of the company in Nigeria was intertwined with Oloibiri, while recalling how two attempts had been made in the past to launch a similar project but failed for various reasons.
Okunbor said ”listening to the very well thought out details and framework, it gives us quite some confidence that this time all the ingredients are there to get it right and I pledge the support of the SPDC JV to this effort.”
.The Minister also revealed that two committees and five project teams have been created to provide necessary support and supervision essential to deliver the project, and they include the Steering Committee, which would be responsible for providing leadership and steer and the Coordinating Committee, responsible for providing oversight on activities of all the project teams.
The Project teams included construction, funds mobilisation and management, community relations, health, safety and environment and secretariat, which shall be set up and operated in NCDMB Head Office in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Listing some of the socio –economic benefits of the project, the NCDMB boss remarked that it will create Nigeria’s hub for oil and gas artefacts, attract petro- tourism, retention of history and dissemination of knowledge, opportunity to bring change and socio-economic development to Oloibiri.
“Other benefits include human capital development and facilitation of prototype development and testing, facilitating commercialisation of research and acceleration of home grown technology development,” he added.