I moved to the level of Group General Manager Engineering and Technology Division in the Nigeri National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) 1988, a post I held until my appointment as CEO NLNG in 1990.
A highpoint of my tenure was the setting up of an engineering company, NETCO, capable of offering expertise at a level transcending beyond the services required by the petroleum industry.
I figured that NNPC needed an entity to provide specialized engineering services to the various arms of the group, and even to other petroleum companies.
I conducted extensive research on the various prominent engineering companies worldwide. We picked Brazil, India, Indonesia and Japan; three developing countries with Japan in the mix. I constituted a team comprising Engr. Jide Soyode, who had been General Manager at the Warri Refinery, and two of my staff, Dan Okocha and Tope Bejide. It was a logistics nightmare to visit these countries and the facilities, but we overcame the hurdles.
BbbWe started our tour from Brazil and went eastwards to India, Indonesia and Japan. In India, we were guests of the engineering company, Engineers India Limited (EIL), which started as a joint venture vehicle with the American Bechtel Corporation, a global leader in oil, gas, chemicals, petrochemicals, and LNG plant construction and one of the most respected engineering, construction, and project management companies in the world. EIL was also modelled along multi-disciplinary lines, not restricted to the petroleum industry only. Through that joint venture, EIL acquired and domiciled Bechtel’s methods, basic procedures, data base, library, practices and documentation. The venture failed because Bechtel, as huge as it is, did not get enough projects in India through the joint venture and had to pull out. However, EIL was able to consolidate on knowledge and expertise acquired during the life of the joint venture. This, by coincidence, is the experience and story of NETCO.
Guided by what we learned in India, we decided that NNPC needed to form a joint venture with a reputable engineering company. We called for bids and at the end selected Bechtel as joint venture partner. The joint venture subsisted for a few years. Bechtel failed to land major projects through its joint venture with NNPC and, subsequently, pulled out, but we had anticipated this possibility from the experience of EIL. NETCO had acquired sufficient expertise to carry on by itself and has since grown in stature and expertise. It had acquired some of Bechtel’s methods, basic procedures, data base, library, practices and documentation as foundation on which to build.
Excerpted from ‘From Oloibiri to Bonny: My Life and Insights From Rising and Leading in Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry’, by Godswill Ihetu, Published b in Lagos, Nigeria by Kawe Books, 2022.