In another first in the Nigerian oil and Gas industry, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), has trained three Nigerians in special seabed survey, a discipline largely dominated by expatriates in the country’s offshore exploration activities.
Iwinosa Aghedo, Peace Adepoju and Oluwapelumi Okewusi have completed master’s degrees in UK universities specialising in Geotechnical Engineering and Hydrography on the sponsorship of SNEPCo, in collaboration with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in a programme designed to bolster Nigerian content and develop local capacity in specialised areas.
Responding to the successful completion of the studies by the beneficiaries in record time, Managing Director of SNEPCo, Bayo Olulari, said, “From less than 10 percent Nigerian manpower when we started production at the Bonga field over 13 years ago, we have grown to over 95 percent and the new scholarship initiative is targeted at further increasing the Nigerian content of our manpower.”
Speaking at a reception to welcome them back to the country, one of the beneficiaries, Aghedo, said, “We promise to make the scholarship effective and be worthy ambassadors of the programme.” Her colleague, Miss. Oluwapelumi Okewusi added, “Getting to the top is the easy part. Staying at the top is the hard work, we will put in the hard work.”
In his remarks at the reception, General Manager, Business and Government Relations of Shell Nigeria, Bashir Bello, said, “The scholarship is the outcome of a 2012 vision when SNEPCO and NCDMB agreed to sponsor three Nigerian students to post graduate training in the United Kingdom to close identified gaps as part of NCDMB support for the SNEPCO Seabed Survey contract waiver in that year.”
Shell’s Nigerian Content Manager, Olanrewaju Olawuyi, said the three scholars were selected through a rigorous selection process from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory and, while in school in the UK, they received regular support through regular interactions and calls. “I am excited at the successful fit of the candidates,” he said.
The scholarship is part of the regular SPDC JV Post Graduate Scholarships scheme launched in 2010 with the aim to build a talent pipeline in host communities. The scheme offers successful applicants scholarship for all the direct and indirect activities leading up to the award, cost of foreign education until return to Nigeria. Since the 2010 launch, except for 2016, SPDC has awarded 10 full scholarships annually to successful applicants for a one-year Master’s programmes in oil and gas-related disciplines at top United Kingdom universities. The scheme has recorded 79 beneficiaries since inception.
The Shell scholarship schemes are arguably the most extensive private educational sponsorship initiative in Nigeria. Launched in 1953, the scholarships have evolved over time to cater for different educational categories of students, ensuring that every Nigerian child is given an opportunity to reach full potential irrespective of the family’s economic status.
Additionally, Shell supports the academia in Nigeria with other key programmes that include Centres of Excellence, Professorial Chairs, Shell Eco-Marathon, Sabbatical and Research Internship, Research Support, and Data Support.