"Dorman Long is fortunate to run a diversified business. Whilst the fabrication and galvanizing businesses have ground to a halt, the maintenance business endures so that at least a fair number of our staff are still kept busy and there is some continuing economic activity."
Can you give a brief overview of Dorman Long and the company’s role in the oil and gas industry?
Dorman Long is a 70-year-old steel engineering company, which started off as a structural steel company. We entered the oil and gas space in the 1970s. Today, we have become the company of choice for products such as pressure vessels, splitters, heat exchangers, platforms, jackets and small EPC steel work. We also carry out fabrication and have the biggest galvanizing plant in West Africa, as well as some procurement and maintenance of large oil and gas facilities such as FPSOs. Our galvanizing plant sets us apart in the market. We have certifications from America, Europe and Nigeria, which allows us to build and repair pressure vessels. We can roll up to steel plates of up to 120mm thickness, which is quite unique in Nigeria.
Dorman Long is currently only present in Nigeria, but we have established a subsidiary in Ghana which is not yet operational. We are also in the process of establishing a subsidiary in Mozambique. In the past, we have been responsible for all of Shell’s work in Gabon; we also had operations in Benin and Cameroon.
Can you highlight some of the current projects Dorman Long is working on?
Dorman Long is currently working on the Assa North gas project, which is the biggest gas to power project in Nigeria and was the first of the seven critical gas projects in the country. Our role in this project is fabrication. We are responsible for much of the maintenance of Bonga FPSO and have done this for approximately nine years. We do a lot of work for FPSOs and fabrication for most of the IOCs. We are in line to do a lot of the work for Train 7 as well.
How confident are you that the PIB will pass this year?
I hope that 2020 is the year that we will see the passing of the PIB. It is increasingly imperative that there is exploration and production in increased numbers, and without the certainty of the legal and fiscal framework, it will not happen. This is now clear to everybody and I believe that everyone is starting to pull in the same direction.
The legal framework is never perfect. Inevitably, gas is increasingly on the rise, as one can see with the gas projects in Nigeria such as Assa North and Train 7. Nigeria is a gas country and I believe that the importance of gas will continue to rise moving forward.
How has local content facilitated Dorman Long’s rise?
We are a creature of local content. If not for local content, Dorman Long would not have had the opportunity to do pressure vessels, maintenance on a large scale and participate in the Train 7 project. Local content opens the door for us to harness opportunities in the country. It is, however, important to note that legislation is not the key, but rather implementation and execution. If the current legislation is vigorously implemented, no changes or amendments will have to be made.
How will the current pandemic impact the Nigerian economy and on the oil and gas sector? What is Dorman Long’s experience with it?
The combined impact of the corona virus and depressed oil price on Dorman Long have been fundamental for staff welfare and business continuity. In the first place, the restriction on local and international movement have meant that the manner of working as we have known it had to change. The uncertainty of not knowing when the pandemic will be conquered and if and when the oil price will recover exacerbated what was already a challenging situation.
We have sought to overcome these challenges in a number of ways. Our number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff and we have issued directives to ensure compliance with the health risks and government regulations. Those who can work remotely have been encouraged to do so where the nature of their work and personal circumstances permit this. Our fabrication and galvanizing workshops have been shut down in compliance with federal and state regulations. The core crews on oil and gas infrastructure of national importance, especially offshore, remain at work and we have arranged for limited rotation to maintain the constant operation of the infrastructure and the wellbeing of the staff. We have also embarked on cash preservation strategies given that we do to know how long this period of uncertainty will persist.
Dorman Long is fortunate to run a diversified business. Whilst the fabrication and galvanizing businesses have ground to a halt, the maintenance business endures so that at least a fair number of our staff are still kept busy and there is some continuing economic activity which will lead to some revenue accruing if not now, then in the near future.
The biggest lesson I have taken away from the current situation is the heightened importance of local content. It has allowed for business continuity where relaying on expats would have made this impossible. This is important not only for the company to keep people at work; it also ensures some revenue stream. Local content is also critical for the country to keep essential oil and gas infrastructure operational, pumping oil, producing gas, and generally ensuring the energy security of Nigeria.