A total of 19 academics from different universities in Nigeria have begun research attachments in several fields of study in the latest phase of the sabbatical and internship programme of The Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Limited (SPDC) Joint Venture, which was introduced in 1980.
The eight professors and 11 research interns commenced their programmes in January 2017, seeking to build industry knowledge and understanding in such fields as biodiversity, petroleum engineering, geophysics, impact assessment, community health and oil and gas exploration.
The recipients are from the University of Benin, University of Ibadan, Niger Delta University, University of Ilorin, University of Lagos, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ahmadu Bello University, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, University of Calabar and University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
“Our research and internship programme is a key aspect of our effort to contribute to the development of higher education in Nigeria,” said Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations. “It is a mutually beneficial relationship. SPDC obtains specialised and cost-effective services from the professors and senior lecturers, while they in turn acquire industry experience and exposure to new technologies that can be ploughed back to the university community.”
For a period of one year, the professors on sabbatical will conduct research in identified areas and share their findings with SPDC. Part of the internship programme involves Master’s degree students who are also offered one-year placements to acquire work experience in SPDC. The other set of internships are from the Shell Centre of Excellence at the University of Benin, who will spend six months, enabling them to gain critical working experience and be exposed to Shell’s working culture and ethics. Recruitment for sabbatical and research internship scheme begins with advertisements in national and local newspapers in March with interviews in July each year.
According to SPDC, Shell companies in Nigeria have a long history of supporting education through scholarships and other initiatives, while also helping to build capacity in key technical skills, for example donating equipment to universities to develop capability in the production of drilling mud.
Ten graduate scholarships are also awarded annually to students from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states to study engineering and geosciences at top universities in the United Kingdom, building a talent pipeline within host communities. In addition, 40 engineering and geosciences graduates receive hands-on training through a one-year internship programme organised by the SPDC JV and the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, a group of indigenous oilfield service companies.