Twenty-two members of the academia from 12 Nigerian universities have begun research attachments at The Shell Petroleum Development Companies of Nigeria (SPDC) in several fields of study in the latest phase of the sabbatical and internship programme of the SPDC Joint Venture which was introduced in 1980. The number represents 13 percent increase from the outgoing 19 academics who recently rounded off their attachments with SPDC.
Eight professors and 14 post-graduate research interns commenced their programmes on Friday at SPDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, seeking to build industry knowledge and understanding in such fields as biodiversity, petroleum engineering, geophysics, environmental impact assessment, community and occupational health, remediation, marketing, and oil and gas exploration. They are from the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Ibadan; University of Benin; University of Port Harcourt; Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island; University of Lagos; Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt; Delta State University, Abraka; Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; Alex Ekwueme University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo; and the Federal University of Technology, Akure.
General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, Mr. Igo Weli, said: “The research and internship programmes form key aspect of our effort to contribute to the development of higher education in Nigeria. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. SPDC obtains specialised and cost-effective services from the professors and senior lecturers, while they, in turn, acquire industry experience and exposure to new technologies that can be ploughed back to the university curriculum.”
For a period of one year, the professors on sabbatical would conduct research in identified areas and share their findings with SPDC for application in the industry. Part of the internship programme involves Master’s and Doctoral degree students who are also offered one-year placements to acquire work experience in SPDC. The other set of interns are from the SPDC Centre of Excellence in Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Benin, who spend six months, enabling them to gain practical experience and be exposed to the work culture and ethics of Shell Companies in Nigeria.
Recruitment for sabbatical and research internship scheme begins with advertisements in national and local newspapers in March with selection interviews for shortlisted candidates in July each year.
Only in November 2018, SPDC added to its long history of supporting education in Nigeria through scholarships and other initiatives when it hosted the maiden SPDC Education Day in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. At the event, SPDC awarded 10 post-graduate annual scholarships to students from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States to study engineering and geosciences at top universities in the United Kingdom, building a talent pipeline within host communities. Total number of beneficiaries since inception in 2010 is 80 at a cost of about $5.6m. Also, 40 engineering and geosciences graduates received hands-on training through a one-year internship programme organised by the SPDC JV and the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, a group of indigenous oilfield service companies. Other scholarships valued at over N1.3 billion were awarded to 1,035 beneficiaries on that day by SPDC and its JV Partners.