Slot Engineering, is an indigenous engineering, fabrication, construction and procurement company founded by a civil engineer. The company since inception has continued on a path of success, leading to its fast growth and expansion into other areas of specialization. With considerable feats in engineering services, procurement, among others, the company has remained a name to reckon with in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. In this interview with VIVIAN OSUJI ISRAEL in Port Harcourt, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Slot Engineering Nigeria Limited, Mr Ernest Ojukwu, speaks on the company’s recent achievement of a newly built logistics base in Afam, Rivers state Nigeria. Excerpts.
Can you give us an update on Slot Engineering?
Slot Engineering is an indigenous oil servicing company. We started operation in 1985 and our activities are concentrated within the Niger Delta region. Our services were mostly in the area of flow line construction, before we gradually started procurement activities in area of project materials. In procurement, you need custom to clear it and before now we were using expatriates but they were not giving us the sort of services we required. Presently, we have registered as custom clearing agent and we now do our own procurement. Our core areas are flow line construction, fabrication works, project procurement and custom clearing services.
Can you enlighten us more on your newly built logistic base?
Our new logistic base at Afam in Oyigbo is made up of 25 rooms accommodation with Catering facilities, swimming pool and a workshop centre. The structure is not only for our use, it is built to serve other contractors coming into Afam, who may have need of accommodation, just like we had when we were working there. So, with the facilities we have at the logistic base, it will make life easy for people working in Afam.
Apart from the logistics base, what other achievements has Slot engineering recorded in recent times?
We recently acquired a 90-ton crane and a new welding station. The welding station is equipped with the complete equipment for welding. It has about four welding machines, 100kva generator, a compressor with 75cfm capacity. All is in one track and can move to swampy locations.
As an indigenous company that is actively involved in procurement, how do you source for funds?
By the grace of God we have managed to use our resources for procurement. Of course, when you develop goodwill within the industry, it will also help to bridge some funding issues. For instance, if you establish a relationship with an OEM based on trust, they can spread the payment for you to make it easier to meet up with the cash requirement. For us, the issue is not funding but that jobs are not coming as expected.
So what could be the reason for this?
Activities in the oil and gas industry have been low. It is mostly because of the fall in the oil price, but things are gradually picking up. Although, the recovery has not been as fast as some of us think, yet, we are very hopeful that the recovery will improve.
Slot Engineering is known to be involved engineering services, procurement, human resources management and logistics. How does your company manage these portfolios to ensure effective and satisfactory services to your clients?
Of course, like I said earlier, the company’s growth did not happen at once. It was a gradual process. So, we were taking it one step at a time. It is also about strategic planning as well as having the right personnel in the right places. So, there are personnel who are manning each of the departments. For Slot Engineering, we have been lucky to have dedicated and committed staffs who are effectively manning these departments. The truth is that the progress or otherwise of any company depends on the quality of her personnel.
Recently, Federal Government introduced the gas flare commercialization programme, NGFCP, what would be the role of slot in ensuring government achieve the desired result?
You know as a member of PETAN we have been enthusiastic in this area of gas flare commercialization. For us in slot engineering, we have started the initial discussion with some overseas companies. The idea is that government is not going to give any form of guarantee and as I understand it the government is not in position to give any guarantee, investors are also reluctant without having guarantee because for any investor there must be an element of confidence that when you are investing your money you will be able to recover that money, even during the OTC we discussed with some persons and they emphasized on the issue of guarantee and with our capacity, it is not something we can do alone we need external investors.
How has Slot Engineering fared in its manpower services?
It is been good and we have continued improve on our service delivery. One was did when we had an umbrella contract with SPDC. We don’t just provide local manpower services, we also provide expatriate services. We had some expatriate that were attached to SPDC. However, that contract was called off and we now concentrate on providing local manpower services.
Presently, do you have a functional website?
Of course, we have an active website where people can get enough information concerning our services and can as well reach us, submit their CVs. In the absence of the SPDC contract, we have continued to update our database.
Who are your major clients?
As at now we have SPDC and NLNG, we have also done very few jobs with Total.
What is your product standard like?
In fact in all the services we provide, we are ISO 2015 certified. Our services are in line with international standards.