The pioneer post graduate students at the Marine and Offshore Engineering Centre of Excellence have commenced studies at Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, involving 18-month academic and field work that will lead to the award of Masters degrees in Marine Engineering (Power Plants), Naval Architecture and Offshore and Subsea Engineering. A Diploma in Marine and Offshore Engineering will also be awarded by the Centre which was established last year by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) operated Joint Venture.
“We are pleased that the Centre of Excellence has taken off with students eager to achieve their dreams using hydrodynamic equipment that can simulate offshore/marine situations,” said SPDC’s General Manager External Relations, Igo Weli as he led a Shell team to witness the historic commencement of classes. “The Centre of Excellence is another powerful testimony on the educational initiatives of SPDC which began with the Shell scholarship scheme since the 1950s.”
The Centre of Excellence in Marine and Offshore Engineering – the first in Nigeria – offers a programme that covers lectures, practical sessions, term project modules and a six-month internship in the oil and gas industry. The Board of Trustees for the Centre which is chaired by the Vice Chancellor of Rivers State University, Prof. Blessing Didia, also held its inaugural meeting on the day the Shell team visited. Prof. Didia thanked SPDC and her partners for establishing the Centre of Excellence in the University, calling on undergraduate students in Marine Engineering and other Engineering disciplines to study harder as to qualify for enrollment into the programme.
The Director of the Centre, Dr. Ibiba Douglas stated that 10 students were admitted to the programme after a rigorous selection process, and commenced studies in April this year. Speaking at a lecture organised by the centre titled “An enabling business environment – implications for future careers in the oil and gas industry,” Mr. Weli called on youths in the Niger Delta to support the creation of a business environment that will attract investments to the region. He said: “The way we act, speak and manage conflict will help to create an environment where peace, investments and prosperity will thrive for the benefit of all stakeholders including communities.”
Mr. Weli echoed the same sentiments at a dinner which he later hosted to mark the take-off of the Centre which was attended by several stakeholders including the President of The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Capt. Greg Ogbeifun, Managing Director of the Naval Ship-Yard Limited Commodore Abolaji Orederu and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Simbi Wabote (represented by Dr. Patrick Obah).
In other support for tertiary education, SPDC JV funds a Centre of Excellence in Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering at University of Benin, and endowed six Professorial Chairs at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Port Harcourt; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Uyo; and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun. The Chairs are in Geophysics, Environmental Management and Control, Petroleum Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, as well as Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation. The Chair in Light Weight Automobile Engine Development at FUPRE is the most recent endowment and is expected to contribute to the growth of local content in Nigeria’s automobile industry.