RESEARCH GRANTS: PTDF CLOSE-OUT SIX APPLICABLE RESEARCH OUPUT TO THE INDUSTRY
With the successful completion of the 2017/2018 research cycle for the annual oil and gas research grant competition, the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) has conducted a Close-Out Seminar to present the status of six (6) researches in the oil and gas industry under the Fund’s research cycle providing the discoveries made. The researches were jointly conducted by local researchers from both the industry and the academia; it was sponsored by the Fund as part of its strategic intervention in research and development.
The close-out seminar and public presentation of the research result is an intellectual intervention programme organized by the Fund to let out research discoveries that were undertaken by various researchers during the 2017/2018 annual research grant competition It is also an avenue where key stakeholders and subject matter experts from both the industry and the academia assemble together to do a critique and offer quality advice on things that will significantly enrich the ongoing research efforts going forward.
The Executive Secretary, PTDF, Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau who declared the seminar open at the PTDF headquarters in Abuja said that, the researches sponsored by the Fund are geared towards solving practical problems using locally sourced materials to improve systems and processes in the oil and gas industry. He described the seminar as a significant aspect of the PTDF mandate “What we are doing today is a significant aspect of the PTDF mandate and the six research programmes that are being discussed in this event meets and even surpasses our expectations. While the scholarship scheme addresses the provision of possibly the best human resource for the Nigerian oil and gas industry, there is an equally significant theme, that is to provide real life solutions to practical challenges in the industry and in the economy at large. And I am hoping that, what we will emanate from this activity will result in that”.
He said, the most critical challenge before the PTDF is how to move towards the utilization and commercialization of the research efforts. he tasked all the stakeholders to move beyond the academic exercise as there are ample evidences suggesting that the researches being conducted by the Fund are needed by the industry.
“The most important question we have to address is, what next after this event? Because over the years there have been so many ground-breaking researches in our universities and in various research centers. But they are all lining on the shelves, we need to think through this, how do we move beyond being a mere academic exercise? How do we move beyond just leading to certain publications? How do we engage the industry towards the utilization and commercialization of some of the outcomes of these efforts? On our part here in the PTDF, we have already started the process of sitting down with you to process together not just researchers, but with possible other industry actors on what do we do with this. I am hoping that, in the next few weeks, that will commence. So the department of Strategic Planning and Documentation will have to come up with a proposal for us on how to move this particular outcome forward”.
Dr Gusau gave an instance of the breakthrough recorded by the PTDF sponsored research on Zeolite catalyst which is one area that is significant to the oil and gas industry. “I don’t want to anticipate how significant, because you will get to know that in the course of these sessions, but I will just give you one example. A few months back the PTDF management travelled to the Kaduna refinery, and in the course of the discussions, what came through is the refinery lamenting about the cost of importing refining catalyst, and what that will mean to their overall operations. I am happy to note that this is one of the issues that is being tackled here today”.
Mr Jide Adebulehin, General Manager, Strategic Planning, Research and Documentation of the Fund expressed satisfaction about the close-out seminar which he described as a resounding success given the caliber of people and quality of presentations by the researchers which he said has justified the purpose of the grant. “The purpose of starting this programme is being achieved. If you look at it, almost all the researchers in all the six presentations have worked in areas that are relevant to the industry. And so since we have gotten research result in areas that are relevant to the oil and gas industry, we have achieved the purpose of which we started the whole thing.”
He disclosed that, the Fund will set the machinery in motion for the continuation of another research cycle which will have a similar focus as the ones that are ending. He equally explained why the researches have a time line. “One important thing about research activities in the oil and gas industry is not financing, it must be timely. Because time is very important. That is why we give them a maximum of 2 years then we close. When we close, you are expected to have completed your work within that period or get it to a patentable level within that period. Immediately we close, then we advertise. you know we have a Steering committee made up of subject matter experts from different parts of the industry. they will access all the applications and select new set of researchers or select researchers that want to develop where some of the past ones have stopped. So, after this close-out, one or two months from now, we will start the process of the new circle”.
The Chairman Steering committee on the selection of the potential beneficiaries of the PTDF Annual Oil and Gas Research Grant Competition, Professor Chukwuemeka Ekweozor explained the rigorous processes being conducted by the committee before selecting the potential researches to be sponsored by PTDF. He said “It’s a very rigorous process. First, we determine what areas that are important in consultation with the PTDF. We advertise in the national newspapers and then people submit their applications. Those applications are ranked according to parameters which have been agreed upon and then when we have a shortlist, we invite those people to come and then present to us their proposals, not only the technical but also the budget; the financial aspect. And so we then do another set of ranking and eventually we select normally very few out of over a hundred applications, about 3, 4 or 5 will make it. Then we further subject that to a Peer Review, that is people who are not necessarily in the committee but who are well known experts in the industry and academia. They will then give us a holistic picture of the projects. It is at that stage that we then recommend them to the PTDF for sponsorship”.
Professor Ekweozor said the committee at different times have suggested many researches which are patented by the PTDF. He expressed satisfaction with the work conducted by the researchers which he said has attracted the attention of many IOC’s and other players in the industry, He also expressed happiness over the outcome of the research topics selected by the committee adding that the researchers have more or less worked according to the set objectives and they did not only do the analytical and experimental work, they were also involved in the budget and made sure that the objective which is application were addressed.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was also present at the event, represented by the Group General Manager, Research and Development Division, Dr A. O. Adewale. According to him “I like the idea of coming together of researchers in oil and gas industry and for us in particular in R and D, NNPC; we see areas where we can collaborate to address industry problems very timely. It’s appropriate but we collaborate to find solutions to industry problems; there are so many of them. So, it’s really good that it’s been sponsored, PTDF has taken on to bring together all the different researchers from R and D, from the universities and some researchers from the oil and gas companies like shell, chevron ought to be here too. So, they would have interest; maybe have the desire to sponsor some of the activities. I think the point has been made during the session that NNPC R & D can serve as such a centre of excellent where equipment will be purchased, acquired and with the sponsorship from the oil and gas too. Whenever a university needs to use particular equipment, we would be glad to collaborate and avail them the use of facilities for solving industry problems”.
General Manager, NCDMB, Dr Ama Ikurei while commending PTDF for initiating the exercise said that, the engagement spurred the prospect of collaboration between the PTDF and the NCDMB on research and Development. “We have started talking a lot about collaboration with the PTDF as your Executive Secretary will attest to, and as it concerns this one, we were very reasoning that for viable products, products that are commercially viable or that are promising. The NCDMB will be very willing to work further with some of the researchers to take them one, to the industry, two, to ensure we are able to produce them to the level that it will create jobs and opportunities for Nigerians and things like that. So, actually we are here to see what is coming out of the area and how we can work together and collaborate towards making it happen”.
The GM, NCDMB also express delight with the whole conduct of the seminar which he said will no doubt propel further collaboration between the two agencies “I think what I will say in summary is that am greatly encouraged by what I observed for the past two days, the seriousness of the researchers and then the commitment of the PTDF towards actually making the research. One issue that was constant for these two days has to do with the relevance of the research to the market. It is one area where we will see more collaboration happening. We want to see a research that will have direct impact on the oil and gas industry and by extension the Nigerian domestic product. So, we will work more with the PTDF to ensure that even in the selection of projects for research that will give due concentration to what the industry want”.
The researches being close-out during the seminar include “Development of Novel Technology for diagnosing and remediating problems associated with Oil field, reservoir souring and corrosion in the Petroleum industry” by Dr. Chuma Okoro. “Evaluation and Control of Wax Deposition During Production of Crude Oil in an identified Niger – Delta Waxy Oilfield” by Prof. Godwin Chukwu, Federal University of Technology, Owerri. “Engineering Design and Production of Oil & Gas Facilities Using Plastic Reinforced with Plantain Fibres” by Prof. Chirstopher C. Ihueze, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka. The rest are “Geochemical Evaluation and Mapping of the Potential Source Rock in Sokoto Basin in Nigeria” by Dr. Umar Z. Faruq, Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto. “Development of Zeolite Catalyst for Light Alkanes Aromatization” by Dr. Abdulaziz Y. Atta, NARICT∕Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria as well as “Modeling Well – Burst Stability by Chemical Method: Niger – Delta a Case Study” by Prof. Ogbonna Joel, University of Port Harcourt.
Among those who attended the two-day close-out seminar include a number of Vice Chancellors of the Nigerian universities, serving and retired oil and gas industry experts, many researchers from the academia as well as other relevant government institutions.