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Shell launches unmanned vessel for undersea pipeline evaluation

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…As stakeholders decry AI infiltration, potential unemployment

Stakeholders have called for caution in the deployment of artificial intelligence and technologies which may result in job losses in the Nigerian oil and gas sector.

The stakeholders made the call following Monday’s announcement by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) that it had introduced surface water drone for pipeline survey in its shallow water operations.

Shell had said that it had deployed an Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) for pipeline route survey in the Niger Delta.

The USV, a water surface drone with no human crew, can be used for underwater pipelines examination and integrity assessment among others.

SPDC announced the innovation, the first in Nigerian oilfields, in a statement by its Media Relations Manager, Mrs Abimbola Essien-Nelson.

According to the energy firm, the USV saves time and cost as well as reduces exposure to personnel and environment.

“Last month, the remotely operated USV conducted a pipeline route survey at Bonny for a total of 166 hours.

“It is the first deployment of an USV for a pipeline route survey in shallow water in Nigeria and the longest such single mission in the Shell Group,” Essien-Nelson said.

She quoted Mr Steve Keedwell, SPDC’s Chief Surveyor and Head of Offshore Survey Operations, as describing the deployment of the USV as the new face of survey in Nigeria.

According to the statement, on-site and remote operators deployed the USV.

“We recorded increased productivity and better data acquisition at the survey at Bonny.

“Deploying the USV reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 97 per cent because the vehicle is designed as diesel electric.

“The efficiency of data acquisition coupled with improved data quality whilst reducing personnel exposure to zero is transforming how we execute surveys,” she said.

She further said that SPDC partnered with different stakeholders such as Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services and the Nigerian Content Development and Management Board on the initiative.

Others were the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

She noted that in furtherance of its Nigerian content development programme, SPDC worked closely with a Nigerian vendor, Compass Survey Limited, which deployed the vessel with support from their foreign partners and Unmanned Survey Solutions, UK

Essien-Nelson also quoted SPDC’s General Manager, Nigerian Content Development, ‘Lanre Olawuyi, as saying the vendor was training on-site remote operators to build local capacity.

“This is an exciting chapter in our efforts to develop Nigerian content in the conduct of surveys,” Olawuyi said.

Olawuyi added that the innovation in the survey at Bonny was attracting interests from the oil and gas industry and beyond.

“We will continue to support Nigerian companies in the domestication of technology and innovations,” he said.

The statement allayed fears of job losses, saying the USV creates jobs at the remote control centre where data from the unmanned vessel is received and processed.

But an oil services expert, Mr Henry Itrechio noted that the introduction of technologies that cut off jobs should be used with caution due to the adverse social impact of job losses on the economy.

“Incursions of Artificial Intelligence ought to be handled with cautious optimism as machines cannot replace humans.

“Like in the case in point, the USV is better because the danger of having humans in undersea vessels is very high.

“The USV is not without its own drawbacks and its pilot deployment for pipeline surveillance in shallow waters should be further studied to ascertain the suitability for deep-sea operations,” he said.

He also noted that the disadvantages of using USVs for pipeline surveys in the oil industry include limitations in communication, navigation, payload capacity, range and speed when compared to undersea vehicles.

Also speaking, Dr Nnimmo Bassey, an environmental rights crusader, who welcomed the application of drone technology for underwater pipeline monitoring, argued that the claim of 97 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions was bogus and needed to be validated.

“The drones can be good for monitoring pipelines for defects, leakages, and corrosion or illegal activities.

“To say that they lead to 97 percent carbon dioxide emission reduction is a vacuous claim that can only be made by carbon speculators seeking profit rather than halting pollution.

“The drones whether subsea or above water cannot in any way eliminate human agency in halting harmful activities,” he said.

Energy

Alleged $500m wasteful investments: Oil Minister dares Former NCDMB ES, vows to recoup investments

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The Minister Of State For Petroleum Resources(Oil), Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri has vowed to recoup alleged investments worth over $500m made by the Nigerian Content Monitoring and Development Board (NCDMB).

The Minister made this vow in defence of his allegation that the NCDMB wasted over $500 million of the industry’s fund in equity investments in private establishments and in loans that are now non-performing.

The erstwhile Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Engr.Simbi Wabote had earlier debunked the Minister’s statement describing it as reckless.

Wabote challenged the Minister to visit the sites of the projects the agency invested in while accusing the Minister of playing politics.

“The HMSPR-Oil is implored to visit the construction sites to avail himself of facts on ground. He should also check the MPR archives of the stategic plan to diversify oil and gas development clusters in the NigerDelta using Bonny Island, Brass Island, Onne, Ogidigben, Ibom, etc. Perhaps, this will cure his aversion to
any developmental initiative in Brass
Island and the Niger Delta in general.” Wabote said.

Reacting to Wabote’s statement, the Minister through his SA Media and Communication, Nneamaka Okafor, described Wabote’s claims as blatant lies from the pit of hell.

The Minister’s response reads: ‘’Our position is that he who alleges must prove same. So, if Mr. Wabote has proof of such conversation, he is challenged to provide same.”

‘’Secondly the Minister has no aide called Blackson. All his aides were duly selected in line with extant laws and have documents to that effect.”

‘’The Minister in his capacity as chairman of the Governing Council stands by his statement at The Petroleum Club’s quarterly event in Lagos, and as journalists I welcome you to visit the places mentioned to verify the allegations for yourself.”

‘’Thirdly, the said Atlantic Refinery was supposed to be built in Mr Wabote’s home town, he should show Nigerians where that refinery is.”

‘’Fourthly, the Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical company was also paid for, you are welcomed to also visit the site to verify the facts for yourself.”

‘’Let me add that these revelations are not new, they were first made during an investigative hearing of the House of representative committee on local content. Again the records are there and you are welcome to verify these facts.”

‘’The Minister has never been part of any budgeting process of any parastatal under the Ministry, you are welcomed to visit these agencies to verify for yourself.”

‘’Finally, the Minister’s office is run with a budget superintended by the permanent secretary and so one will wonder, how the Minister will ask another entity to make provisions for the budget of his Office. The Minister has an impeccable record from his time as Minister of Agric and will continue to stand for the truth.”

‘’I have had course to read Mr Wabote’s release and every one can see that he is still nursing the wounds of being replaced even after spending seven years at the Board.At best, this is a clear case of when you fight corruption, corruption will fight back.” The response read.

The Minister also diaclosed that investigations are ongoing while making a vow to recover the resourced expended.

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Energy

NNPC Ltd, partner unlock 12,000bpd production at Awoba Unit Field

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) and its Joint Venture (JV) partner, Newcross Exploration and Production Ltd., have restarted production at Awoba field, Port Harcourt, Rivers.

The NNPC Ltd. said the field last contributed to the Bonny Terminal in 2021 and was finally shut down in February 2022 due to evacuation issues and crude oil theft.

Speaking on the development, the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Ltd. Malam Mele Kyari, in a statement on Tuesday, said since the restart on April 13, production at the field had averaged 8,000 barrels per day.

According to the GCEO, the production is expected to reach 12,000 per day within 30 days.

He said Awoba was also expected to significantly boost gas supply to the power sector and other gas-based industries.

He said the NNPC Ltd. was keen on optimising production from the nation’s hydrocarbon assets to boost revenue.

Kyari said it would also help to meet the nation’s Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production quota.

He ascribed the achievement to the President Bola Tinubu administration’s success in providing the enabling operating environment for businesses to thrive.

He expressed appreciation to all stakeholders, including staff, operators, host communities, government security agencies, and private security contractors who played a pivotal role in achieving the feat.

The Awoba Unit, which straddles OMLs 18 and 24 is located in the mangrove swamp south of Port Harcourt, Rivers.

Both OML 18 and OML 24 assets are under the management of the NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services (NUIMS).

NNPC Ltd. has been recording a string of production successes from the JV portfolio which have significantly lifted overall national production.

Besides the recent start of production at the Madu Field by the NNPC Ltd/First E&P JV, the company has achieved the restart of production at OMLs 29 and OML 18 in late 2023.

These contributed an average of 60,000bpd to the nation’s production output since their restart.

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NIPCO Gas to accelerate AutoCNG to foster eco-friendly, sustainable future

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…Bags industry award as Innovative Gas Company

In its bid to prioritise innovation and ecological stewardship in Nigeria, NIPCO Gas Limited has affirmed its determination to drive positive transformation in the country’s energy industry by advocating for cleaner options like AutoCNG to foster a more eco-friendly and sustainable future.

Managing Director of NIPCO Gas Limited, Nagendra Verma, stated this in his acceptance speech on the occasion of conferment of Innovative Gas Company of the Year on the company by Energy Times Newspaper in Lagos over the weekend.

Verma explained that the company has done remarkably well in its efforts to deep deeping gas utilisation as an alternative automotive fuel, and at the same time, focusing on expanding the country’s gas infrastructure.

While speaking on the award bestowed on his company, the Managing Director said that this reflected NIPCO Gas’ humble contributions to the nation’s gas sector within the hydrocarbon industry.

Verma stated, “The accolade of Most Innovative Gas Company of the Year aptly acknowledges our endeavours in the gas sector, marked by the launch of our inaugural Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station in Benin City, Edo State, in 2009.

“The honour serves as recognition of our steadfast commitment to deepen  gas utilisation as an alternative automotive fuel.

“The distinguished award also underscores NIPCO Gas’s firm unwavering focus to expanding the country’s gas infrastructure.”

NIPCO Gas Limited’s managing director however, opined that the gas company stands as a prominent energy enterprise, devoted to providing dependable and sustainable energy solutions to Nigerian communities.

According to him, “Reflecting our commitment to capitalising on the nation’s gas potential, we have consistently invested substantial human and material resources in developing infrastructures that bolster viable energy alternatives for both motorists and industrial applications.”

While highlighting the recent partnership between NNPC Limited and NIPCO Gas Limited, Verma noted that it was aimed at establishing more CNG stations nationwide. He added that this significant venture would enhance Nigeria’s CNG framework, broaden CNG availability, and foster the transition to a more affordable and eco-friendly fuel alternative for various vehicles.

To him, “The initiative, introduced by NNPC Limited’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Mallam Mele Kyari, is set to offer diverse fuel choices to Nigerians in the wake of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) subsidy removal.”

The goal is to create a network of CNG stations throughout the country. “Under the partnership NIPCO Gas has committed construction of 35 CNG Stations initially across states of Nigeria. “Presently, NIPCO Gas Limited has 16 CNG outlets and has successfully converted over 8,000 vehicles to CNG.”

While receiving the award, Verma said, “Receiving this award motivates us to further contribute to the industry’s expansion in every aspect. Our commitment to the nation’s progress, particularly in the gas segment of the hydrocarbon industry, remains steadfast.

“This accolade is a tribute to the dedication of my colleagues at NIPCO Gas Limited, whose relentless pursuit of excellence has significantly shaped our company’s impressive growth over time.”

In his welcome address at the event,  the Chairman Editorial Board, Energy Times, Alhaji Yakubu Lawal, said the award is meant to appreciate and recognise those individuals and companies whose works have in one way or the other impacted on the nation’s development  coting  NIPCO as pioneers  in the  Auto CNG sector.

While speaking on NIPCO Gas Limited’s award prize, Lawal said, “NIPCO has performed excellently which led to NNPC & Federal Government partnering with her to grow gas infrastructure to enable motorists and industries alike to have access to gas as auto fuel.

“The company’s expertise would add value to the nation’s efforts  to harness the abundant gas resources  in the country as alternative fuel to petrol,” he alluded.

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