Lee Engineering and Construction Company, one of Nigeria’s indigenous oil serving companies, has established a $100 million fabrication plant in Warri, Delta State to meet the fabrication needs of multinational companies in the oil and gas sector.
Before now, the feat in the sector was only thinkable by such industry giants such as Shell, Mobile and Total.
Chief Lemon Ikpea, the Chairman and Managing Director of the company, said the vision of the new fabrication plant “is to build an indigenous world-class manufacturing and fabrication workshop that will serve the industrial needs of Nigeria and Africa, especially in the oil and gas, and power sector”.
Ikpea added that he was motivated to set up the fabrication company in order to contribute his quota to the oil and gas sector and to tap into the local content drive of the Federal Government.
Under the local content scheme, government encourages indigenous companies in the oil and gas sector to provide services to the big players in the sector and benefit from its financial resources.
The newly completed oil and gas production plant is dedicated to produce high pressure vessels, heat exchangers, gas-heat exchangers, water bath heaters, glycol, skits, scrubbers, process modules, tanks and flare systems as well as carry out maintenance on existing pressure/process vessels and its components
Ikpea said: “If you look around the oil and gas sector, most production are done outside the shores of this country and if we fold our hands and wait for government’s foreign friends and partners to transfer technology to this country, I don’t see that happening, considering the market situation.
“If they transfer technology to you, the question to ask will be, who will be buying from them? So they will be reluctant to do that.
“Our mission is to produce high quality, reliable and durable products through competent workforce and best technology within regulatory laws.
“We intend to change the existing orientation of clients procuring similar components abroad with scarce hard currency and, in the process, boost national economy and reduce procurement lead time.”
Ikpea said his drive is also to support the government in creating jobs for the teeming unemployed youths and save huge foreign exchange for the nation.
According to him: “We decided to key into the local content policy of government, which was enacted into law in 2010. We want government to give more power to the Nigerian Local Content Management Board to ensure that Nigerians fully participate in any investment, expansion and Greenfields to be established in many parts of this country.
“It is from there that our people will learn, build capacity, learn on the job, and also the government will save half of what is meant to originally go to foreign companies.”
Ikpea disclosed that as part of the company’s local content policy, Lee Engineering has so far sent 50 technicians and engineers to The Netherlands for training, adding that by the time the fabrication facility is fully operational other trainees would also be sent to The Netherlands and other parts of the world for training in marketing of the products and the and after sale services.
The company boss stated that to further drive home the government’s commitment to the local content policy of government. “we are optimistic that Mr. President will do us the honour by coming to commission the project”.
Ikpea said the first move he made with his European partner, which was one of the biggest in the whole of Europe (they service the whole of Europe, America, Middle East and China markets), was to discuss the setting up of this modern facility.
He revealed: “They keyed into it immediately. They said this is what Nigeria needs to help boost the oil and gas sector. We have been in partnership with VDNKDI of Netherlands in the last 10 years and it’s been smooth all this while.”
The Lee Engineering boss, who has devoted over 41 years of his life into oil and gas business, said he started his journey in the sector as a junior worker and worked for 14 years before he decided to establish Lee Engineering and Construction company, the mother company of the fabrication plant.
The target of the Ewatto-born businessman is to export the products of his new fabrication company to other parts of Africa, and the rest of the world.
He said “We are targeting to export to other countries in Africa and the rest of the world. There are refineries in Angola and some West African countries. From there we will expand to the Middle East and to other parts of the world. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step and that is what we have done.”