Twenty-two members of the academia from 12 Nigerian universities have begun research attachments at The Shell Petroleum Development Companies of Nigeria (SPDC), in several fields of study in the latest phase of the sabbatical and internship programme of the SPDC Joint Venture introduced in 1980.
The number represents 13 per cent increase from the outgoing 19 academics, who recently rounded off their attachments with SPDC.
Eight professors and 14 post-graduate research interns commenced their programmes on Friday at SPDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, seeking to build industry knowledge and understanding in such fields as biodiversity, petroleum engineering, geophysics, environmental impact assessment, community and occupational health, remediation, marketing, and oil and gas exploration.
The academics are from the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Ibadan; University of Benin; University of Port Harcourt; Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island; and the University of Lagos.
Others are the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt; Delta State University, Abraka; Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; Alex Ekwueme University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo; and the Federal University of Technology, Akure.
The General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, Igo Weli, said: “The research and internship programmes form key aspect of our effort to contribute to the development of higher education in Nigeria. 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 curriculum.”
For a period of one year, the professors on sabbatical would conduct research in identified areas and share their findings with SPDC for application in the industry.
Part of the internship programme involves Master’s and Doctoral degree students, who are also offered one-year placements to acquire work experience in SPDC.
The other set of interns are from the SPDC Centre of Excellence in Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Benin, who will spend six months, to enabling them gain practical experience, and be exposed to the work culture and ethics of Shell Companies in Nigeria.
Recruitment for sabbatical and research internship scheme begins with advertisements in national and local newspapers in March, with selection interviews for shortlisted candidates in July each year.
In November 2018, SPDC, through its scholarship programme, hosted the maiden SPDC Education Day in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, during which it awarded 10 post-graduate annual scholarships to students from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States.
They are to study engineering and geosciences at top universities in the United Kingdom, building a talent pipeline within host communities.