The groundbreaking of Oloibiri Museum and Research Centre, OMRC, was performed on Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari, an event that attracted leaders of the Nigerian oil and industry who made firm commitments to the execution and sustenance of the project.
President Buhari was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, and was accompanied by the Group Chief Executive Officer, GCEO, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, Simbi Wabote, the Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Osunbor, the Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Samuel Ogbuku, the Deputy Governor, Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Amayanabo of Nembe and Chairman, Board of Directors of Nigeria LNG Limited, Edmund Daukoru and a host of other dignitaries.
At Otuabagi, location of Shell’s Oil Well1 and of the museum project, the Minister declared: “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, Sylva stated with emphasis, “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, 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, 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. He 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, 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, 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, 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 assured: “The funding model is one of the main focus areas we deliberated upon to ensure that today’s groundbreaking ceremony is not another fluke.”