"In the area of maintenance and operations, there are always a few tenders available. The challenge is that there are no significant new investments and there have not been for some time. The emphasis is now on maintenance and to enhance the capabilities of projects already on the ground."
Please provide give an overview of Elper and the services the company provides to the industry?
Elper is a specialized engineering company established in 1996, concentrated on oil and gas services such as engineering procurement and construction, marine engineering, inspection and quality management, equipment procurement and installation, small fabrication, and training and manpower supply. Typically, our contracts with our clients span three to five years. We have grown the company significantly though partnerships and today, we have a team of approximately 500 people, of which only 50 are expats. For some of our specialization areas we identified an international partner through which we could build our internal capabilities.
Our growth and partnership approach was motivated by the local content laws of Nigeria. We have been supporters of the local content laws since the beginning and have served on a government committee where local companies were providing their experience and ideas. Serving on this committee has had substantial benefit for the company and has opened a significant amount of opportunities for us in working with international companies. We aim to be the leading service company to the Nigerian oil and gas industry, maximizing local content development through ongoing learning and training processes, without compromising on international standards. We continue to train and develop local skills.
Elper acquired its first contract with Chevron in 1997. Since establishment, we have offered onshore and offshore services to major international oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria such as Total, Texaco, Esso, ExxonMobil and Shell. QA/QC was our entry point with Shell as we won a substantial contract for the Bonga brownfield project. We have supplied the technical manpower for the supervision of offshore and onshore facilities during routine and preventive maintenance and project execution, as well as for construction, inspection, production planning and design engineering and Automated Ultrasonic Testing (AUT).
Can you highlight some current projects Elper is involved in?
Elper participates in projects through the standard Nipex (Nigerian Petroleum Exchange) tendering process. We attained a new ExxonMobil contract which has recently started and is improving quite well. We are also still working with and supplying manpower to Chevron. In the area of maintenance and operations, there are always a few tenders available. The challenge is that there are no significant new investments and there have not been for some time. The emphasis is now on maintenance and to enhance the capabilities of projects already on the ground. Elper has the advantage of having 22 years’ experience in the industry and we have built strong relationships with our customers over the years. We believe that investment will return to the industry which will open new opportunities for us.
Can you elaborate on the technologies Elper develops and diffuses throughout the company’s processes?
The requirement to enhance capabilities is mainly driven by industry demand. In Nigeria, clients are requiring the same kind of quality and technological edge that is available in every other part of the world. Implementing innovative technologies is thus a natural evolution for a company that wants to remain in business. When tendering, we try to attract and implement technologies which would provoke the interest of clients.
Elper always tries to be at the forefront of the game in terms of technologies. I was very interested in an inspection service technology using drones which could both save time and cut costs. We did not invest in this technology as we found out that the use of drones is illegal due to security risks.
Nigeria has some of the largest oil and gas reserves, but there is still intermittent energy supply in the country. What do you believe causes inefficiencies in energy supply?
There are a lot of technical, social and economic reasons for the inefficiency in Nigeria’s energy supply. There is a controlled price on energy output which affects power supply to the entire population. There are also challenges with the logistics of power supply and distribution and the gas reserves often cannot get to the power plants which are already available. The challenges include the need for infrastructure development and pipeline security. It has been proposed that Nigeria develops a network of smaller gas power plants to eliminate the logistical challenges faced today. This has not happened. I am, however, optimistic about the way forward as I see that there is a drive to improve the energy situation in Nigeria.
What is Elper’s vision for the future?
Elper is looking at consolidating where we are, and we are trying to grow on the platform that we have. We are, however, diversifying our portfolio and are positioning ourselves in some marine/underwater services as we see opportunities in this market in the future. We believe that we can achieve great success moving into this market with the right partners and right training. Moving forward, we would also like to expand our offerings in the environmental services space as this is a market which is significantly growing in demand.