Sixty-four years after the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities at Oloibiri, Bayelsa State by Shell Darcy, the Federal Government working closely 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.
This symbolic project was launched on Tuesday with the inauguration of key project committees and setting of delivery timelines by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.
The project is being 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.
He 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.
According to him “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, and indeed the entire country.”
Providing details of the project, the Minister stated 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 home grown 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 optimize resource utilization and ensure that the Oloibiri monument meets international standards, Sylva explained.
A critical success factor to timely project execution is the establishment of an optimal governance structure with clear reporting lines, key performance indicators and quality resource team he said. He added that two committees and five project teams have been created to provide necessary support and supervision essential to deliver the OMRC project.
They included 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 mobilization and management, Community Relations, Health, Safety & Environment and Secretariat, which shall be set up and operated in NCDMB Head Office in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Proving further insight into the project, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye 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.
He listed some of the socio –economic benefits of the project to include creating Nigeria’s hub for Oil and gas artefacts, attracting 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 commercialization of research and acceleration of home grown technology development.
Speaking on the immediate next steps, 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.
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.
He recalled that two attempts had been made in the past to launch a similar project but they failed for various reasons. He added that ”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.”
Also speaking, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri assured that the state government would support the project by providing the enabling environment for its success and sustenance.