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Conquering digital distrust in Nigeria

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Pipelines,

Adeshina Adebusuyi, Regional Business Development at James Fisher AIS, provides a blueprint for overcoming the gaps in Nigeria’s oil and gas digital transformation journey.

Conquering digital distrust in Nigeria

Digital transformation in Africa is advancing in leaps and bounds, with Nigeria leading the charge as home to the highest number of technology hubs in the whole continent. This advancement, coupled with global initiatives such as the Biden Administration’s ‘Digital Transformation with Africa’, will see the continent’s digital infrastructure grow significantly.

Despite this technology spike, Nigeria’s energy industry is lagging behind its global peers, putting its big ambition – to be a gas-powered economy by 2030 – at risk.

Is Nigeria’s decade of gas in jeopardy?

Nigeria is on the cusp of a big oil and gas infrastructure boom, which could see the country finally unlock the economic prosperity residing in its abundant natural resources. This could lift millions out of energy poverty by augmenting domestic supply as well as boosting exports.

Historically, Nigeria has been severely hampered by a lack of oil and gas infrastructure, however progress is finally being made as a result of President Buhari’s ‘Decade of Gas Initiative’, alongside the long-awaited reforms delivered through the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

Although the pace has been slow, there are large infrastructure projects happening, such as the Dangote Refinery, the 614 km long AKK natural gas pipeline, and several LNG plants that are anticipated to be commissioned over the coming months and years. In addition to this, the state-owned refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna are also being rehabilitated, which will be another boost to the Nigerian economy.

Despite the planned projects, Nigeria’s chequered history with the use of digital technology within the oil and gas industry is in danger of jeopardising this potential success story, with many companies becoming disillusioned by digital transformation.

The pitfall of digital distrust

Most oil and gas decision makers will have at least one story to tell of how they were sold a vision of digital transformation, only to be left with an inferior product and no support to assist with implementation. These purchases not only failed to contribute any productivity or financial improvements; but in many cases, did not solve the issues that they were bought to resolve. It’s become an all-too-common pitfall, engineered by unscrupulous salesmen that are only in it for the win.

Understandably, this has led to distrust and hesitance in adopting new innovations that would have a positive impact, whether on production, maintenance, resourcing, construction etc. For some workers in the industry, this has created an element of doublethink: many have ambitions to mirror their global peers when it comes to digital innovation but are hesitant to do so based on their past experiences.

While industry leaders elsewhere are benefiting from the latest innovations in digital twins, data analytics and preventive and predictive maintenance, many Nigerian workers are still struggling to piece together their maintenance schedules from incomplete plant plans and records kept in Excel. Employees waste a lot of their time looking for data that has been siloed into several systems and documents or, worse, has not been captured at all, residing solely in colleagues’ memories.

This frustration is only amplified when…

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Africa pipeline news Digitilisation news