International Oil Companies (IOC) in the country have been told to patronise local oil and gas contracting firms in the country.
The increased patronage of such companies, the government said, would increase Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs) for Nigeria while demands for foreign currencies would reduce.
Mr. Emmanuel Udom, Akwa Ibom State Governor stated this over the weekend while commissioning the multi-million naira operation base owned by indigenous firm, Engineering Automation Technology Limited (EATECH) in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
According to the governor, the State Government would ensure that IOLs in the state support indigenous contracting firms whose operating base are domiciled in Akwa ibom, stressing that by so doing, problem of youth unemployment and other social vices would be addressed.
Udom who was represented at the occasion by Mr. Etekamba Umoren, the Secretary to the State Government, said that support for local firms would further increase the state’s IGR.
The governor further described Akwa Ibom as Nigeria’s largest oil producing state and commended local contracting firms that had established their headquarters, operational base, or fabrication yards in the state, assuring them that they would get patronage from IOCs like ExxonMobil that is the dominant oil and gas exploitation and exploration firm in the state.
Udom, after the tour of the facilities put in place by EATECH at the Eket base, said he was convinced that there existed local contracting firms with the financial, technical, and managerial capabilities to undertake the most complex project in the oil and gas industry.
“With what I have seen here today, I must say that we have to believe in ourselves as Nigerians. And I can assure that whatever we have to do as a State Government, we will do it to encourage local firms based in our state to take full advantage of the local content law.
“Akwa Ibom State today, is the highest crude oil producer in Nigeria, but we are looking for the local contracting firms that will add value to the state and the indigenes and not just the multinationals who produce and sale the oil,” he said.
In his speech, Mr. Emmanuel Okon, the Managing Director of EATECH, commended the Akwa Ibom State Government for creating the right investment climate, especially the provision of land and security that aided the siting of the new operational base in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
Okon said the company started its operation from a two-room apartment in Port Harcourt about 10 years ago, and had grown to become one of the major local oil service companies in Nigeria.
He, however, complained of low patronage by some IOCs as well as the poaching of highly trained staff as part of the challenge facing local contracting firms in Nigeria.
He said the company took full advantage of the local content law and that it has expanded its scope of work to include, engineering, procurement, construction installation and maintenance services.
“We need to be encouraged with more jobs or patronage by the IOCS because we have the capacity right now. However, poaching of staff remains our major headache in this business,” he lamented.
“You can hire a staff and begin to train him and even send him abroad for training and someone just comes from nowhere and take him away with maybe, an additional N50,000 to his salary, which you can’t afford to add,” Okon added.
He listed Shell, Total, Addax, Mobil Producing, Nigerdock Nigeria Plc, and Frontier Oil Limited as some of the companies the company has enjoyed patronage from in the past.