Emeka Ene, chairman of the Nigerian contractors group, PETAN, has dismissed misgivings that the country’s pavilion at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, United States, is a jamboree, a show case with little substance. “To describe it as such is mostly misplaced and disingenuous and borne out of ignorance”, he declares. PETAN, acronym for Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, is the private sector advocacy group for localization of goods and service supply in the Nigerian E&P industry. The OTC is one of the largest oil and gas gatherings in the world; its attendance consistently exceeds 80,000, with more than 2,700 companies participating in the exhibition. More than 120 countries are represented at recent conferences, with Nigerians alone numbering over 5,000.
PETAN convenes the Nigerian Pavilion at the conference. “Beyond the exhibition itself, PETAN organizes a full programme of topical sessions, investor engagement, panel sessions, technical meetings and presentations that run throughout the week of the OTC”, Ene remarks. “The Nigerian topical luncheon holds the record as one of the most widely attended at the OTC. Now, a few people look at the Nigerians who congregate at the Nigeria Pavilion and conclude that this must mean that these folks have nothing better to do. There are more Brazilians attending the OTC than Nigerians each year. It does not strike you as an issue because they obviously blend in better with the crowd. Every black person you spot walking around the arena is assumed to be Nigerian but Angola, Ghana and South Africa also have large delegations attending the OTC each year. Across the Reliant stadium, over 200 hospitality events take place not counting those organized outside the OTC venue. Nigerians are not involved in most of those parties”.
Ene is founder of Oildata, an oilfield service company well regarded in Nigeria. He says that Nigerian service companies, like his own, “have derived tremendous value from exhibiting at the OTC over the years. I know of at least two PETAN companies who have secured export orders at the OTC for products they manufacture in Nigeria. Many other companies schedule regular meetings with clients and suppliers during the OTC week. Some of our members operate in places like Mauritania, Angola, Yemen, Venezuela, South Sudan and many other oil provinces because of their exposure at the OTC. The OTC gives the opportunity to meet up with all these important stakeholders in one venue and raise Nigeria’s profile in the process. It is an effort that is far from being a jamboree”.