UNITAR to boost PTDF trainees in oil and gas technology

UNITAROscarline Onwuemenyi

16 April 2013, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The United Nations, through its Agency for Training and Research (UNITAR) has entered into partnership with the Petroleum Technology Development Fund to provide training, enhanced education and job placement opportunities to beneficiaries of PTDF specialised skills development programmes in petroleum and other oil and gas related fields.

Under the agreement, the United Nations Agency will among other obligations facilitate the placement of PTDF scholars in top universities in Norway to pursue specialised training in Petroleum Engineering, Subsea Engineering, Marine Engineering, Sea Fairing and petroleum related courses.

Other mandate of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) under the agreement with PTDF include the placement of PTDF scholars on internship in the facilities of International Oil Companies to gain practical experience while undergoing their degree programmes in Norwegian universities as well as secure grants for a good number of the scholars who excel after the first year of the programme thereby taking some of the financial burden borne by PTDF in sponsoring the scholars.

Also, the agreement would ensure the prospect of having young Nigerian trained by PTDF to be meaningfully engaged in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria and abroad upon graduation, thereby adding value to the scheme

In a meeting to review the Memorandum of Understanding between PTDF and UNITAR, the UN Country Representative Dr. Larry Boms said the involvement of the UN agency is to shift emphasis from generic training whereby students are sent on training without clear engagement plans on graduation, a situation he said has been the challenge of governance in Nigeria’s education sector.

The UNITAR Country Representative in Nigeria emphasised the important role of International Oil Companies to the scheme who must be made to realise that huge resources are being committed to the training of future employees of the industry and as such are expected to contribute.

According to him, “We think it is time we boldly involve the industry, to make them understand that we are investing in educating their future employees and so we must bring them at the planning stage, they must begin to commit resources to the training of their future employees.”

Dr. Boms pledged the UN agency’s commitment to providing resources to train more Nigerian students as the collaboration between the Fund and UNITAR matures.

Acting Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund, Mr. Jolomi Arenyeka said PTDF collaboration with UNITAR represents a significant milestone in the capacity building strategies of the Fund whereby concrete benefits are being derived from stakeholder participation.

He observed that in its 13 years of existence this is the first time PTDF will be receiving funding assistance in the form of donations and grants outside its regular source of funding, the signature bonus which itself has been drying up.

According to him, “We have not had funding through signature bonuses for the past three years and today we have found ourselves in a situation where we have to seek to survive as a Fund. So this collaboration with UNITAR even with the scenario of paucity of funds that PTDF has found itself provides a big opportunity to explore other sources of funding in form of donations and grants and this is why this event is so dear to my heart.”

As a way forward, the Acting Executive Secretary said the Fund will now intensify relationships with donor agencies and other institutions that may wish to partner with the Fund through counterpart funding. Mr. Arenyeka made it clear that the partnership with UNITAR will now serve as benchmark for future relationships with stakeholders in terms of value to be added to the Fund’s capacity building programme.

“The experience we have had for the past 13 years with those who claim to collaborate with PTDF as stakeholders have not been very rewarding as all they do is to send us proposals where full funding comes from the PTDF.

“What our present financial predicament dictates to us is that we have to take stock of the reality of our situation and that as we return to buoyancy anytime in the future by God’s grace we must be able to chart a path where we do not begin to collaborate with stakeholders who basically only seek our funds without bringing anything to the table. The experience with UNITAR tells us that that is achievable and that should be our goal’’.

Arenyeka said the relationship with the United Nations Agency also strives to create a bond between scholars of the Fund and the sponsoring institution which compels them to come back after their training and add value to Nigeria instead of remaining abroad to do menial jobs.

“The collaboration with the UN agency is bringing a lot to our table and to our processes. It will involve mentoring, internship programme and the possibility of employment after graduation. Its a big achievement for PTDF and it will be a guide on what we should be doing in the future. Beyond that UNITAR will also bring some scholarship in terms of counterpart funding for the best students that will evolve at the end of the first year of training.

“Our vision is to further our collaboration with UNITAR to see how we can deploy part of our OSS programme into the scheme and seek means of negotiating on some transactions that will add value to our systems than for us to just send scholars, pay their fees, and then they return to Nigeria without any possibility of getting an employment‘’. The Acting Executive Secretary called on other agencies within the United Nations system to join in collaborating with the Fund both in training and in any other programme that will be of value to the oil and gas industry.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke last year approved the training of 150 Nigerian youths from the Niger Delta Region and other parts of the country on various aspects of engineering courses up to degree level. So far PTDF is funding the training of 20 scholars in private and commercial helicopter piloting and air surveillance in South Africa and another 70 are undergoing training in Petroleum Engineering in a China University under PTDF sponsorship. The last batch of 60 scholars has been earmarked for training in Norway under the collaboration programme with UNITAR.

The Memorandum of Understanding between PTDF and UNITAR will be executed later this month in Geneva, the Headquarters of the UN agency under the hand of the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNITAR Ms Sally Fegan-Wyles and PTDF Acting Executive Secretary Mr. Jolomi Arenyeka.

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