Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has stated that the Oloibiri Museum and Research Centre (OMRC) when completed, would help to correct years of historical oversight and preserve the heritage and developments in the oil sector in Nigeria.
Sylva stated this while performing the groundbreaking of Oloibiri Museum and Research Centre (OMRC) and Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Conference Hotel Project on Tuesday on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The minister also stated that the project has one of the lasting legacies of President Muhammadu Buhari in key sectors of the economy.
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The event attracted leaders of the Nigerian oil and gas industry who made firm commitments to the execution and sustenance of the project.
The project is promoted by four institutions which include: the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Shell Petroleum and Development Company (SPDC) and the Bayelsa State Government.
Sylva was accompanied by the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr Simbi Kesiye Wabote, and the Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr Osagie Osunbor.
Others are the Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), Mr Samuel Ogbuku, the Deputy Governor, Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Amayanabo of Nembe and Chairman, Board of Directors of Nigeria LNG Limited, Dr Edmund Daukoru and a host of other dignitaries.
At the site of the museum project, in Otuabagi which is also the location of Shell’s Oil Well1, the Minister said: “By starting work on the Oloibiri Museum and Research Center (OMRC), we have taken a giant step towards correcting a historical oversight by erecting a befitting monument at the exact ground of Oloibiri Oilfield where commercial quantities of oil were first discovered in Nigeria and production began in 1957.”
Recalling how past attempts and foundation laying ceremonies since the era of late President Shehu Shagari in 1981 yielded nothing, Chief Sylva stated with emphasis that the “Groundbreaking is different from foundation laying,” adding that the ceremony he was there to perform signaled the actual take-off of the project as the contract had already been awarded to a reputable construction company.
The Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Engr Simbi Kesiye Wabote, explained what makes the present undertaking different from previous attempts, stating that, “key considerations that enabled us to get to this ceremony we are having today include: credible partnerships, funding model, governance framework, product offerings, project delivery, and long-term sustainability.”
In his speech, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr Samuel Ogbuku, commended the project promoters, namely, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), NCDMB, Shell Petroleum Development Company and its Joint Venture Partners, and Bayelsa State Government.
Ogbuku said the NDDC would enhance the work of the partners by constructing “a befitting access,” a solid road from the state capital, to a monument of such magnitude.
NNPC Limited Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kyari, pledged to provide sufficient support for the project, assuring, “We will do everything possible to support this…in NNPC Limited, we are determined to ensure value is returned to everyone, particularly where the value is created.”
The benefits of the OMRC project to Bayelsa, the nation and petroleum industry, according to the Minister, include “the retention of historical artifacts of our oil and gas journey over the decades, dissemination of knowledge, creation of an attractive destination for tourists, restoration of the image of Oloibiri community, provision of a conducive environment for research and innovation and job creation.”
Apart from the OMRC, the Minister also performed the groundbreaking of the NCDMB Conference Hotel Project at Swali, adjacent to the Nigerian Content Tower.
On the benefits of the 3-star Conference Hotel, Chief Sylva said, it would “provide much-needed accommodation facilities to support the Board’s 1000-seater ultra-modern Conference Centre that regularly hosts thousands of participants at key oil and gas industry seminars, symposia, conferences, and workshops.” Also, it would “accommodate tourists, researchers and others that visit the Oloibiri Museum as well as boost the attraction of Yenagoa as a tourist destination.”
NCDMB’s Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote, explained that the partnership on the project had worked effectively and efficiently “to deliver the project feasibility study, environmental impact assessment (EIA), geotechnical survey, site clearing, and the architectural design.”
According to him, they were able to obtain an architectural masterpiece, “which reflects our desire to preserve the heritage of oil and gas in Nigeria and further enhance in-country research and development.”
On resources for the project, he said that the funding has been properly planned to ensure that it does not end up midway.
“The funding model is one of the main focus areas we deliberated upon to ensure that today’s groundbreaking ceremony is not another fluke,” Wabote assured.