Stakeholders have raised the alarm that Nigeria’s external reserves currently at $43.67 billion may further be depleted on account of some ill-equipped laboratories servicing its oil and gas industry.
Their unpatriotic act according to experts has compelled the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to, in some instances, ferry samples abroad for analytical tests.
They warned that, if urgent actions are not taken to address the increasing rate of disparity in laboratory results often conducted by some indigenous laboratory firms, the consequences would soon become grave for the country.
Those who had followed the activities of the substandard laboratories lamented that due to their penchant for cutting corners, the unscrupulous operators have continued to tamper with laboratory results in a bid to negatively influence the decision of the regulator, stressing the development was not healthy for the oil industry.
‘‘The outcome of some laboratory results will prove toxic while some will reveal non-toxic. This development impacts on our operations as we sometimes have the need to send some of these samples abroad to get the actual result. This service comes at a premium.
It is worrisome that tests carried out using the same module and standard procedure produce a different outcome.’’
It was for this reason and many other factors inhibiting growth of the oil sector that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) recently gathered CEOs of laboratories, members of the academia, representatives of oil and gas companies and the media to the 3rd Oil and Gas Industry Laboratory Stakeholders’ Workshop with the theme ‘‘Enhancing Laboratory Best Practices and Capacity Building Towards Promoting Sustainable Development in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry.
DPR talks tough
Head, Laboratory Services, DPR, Mr. Abdurahman Abiodun, warned that the era of using fake reports from the accredited laboratory by dubious vendors has come to an end, threatening that anyone caught in the act should be ready to face the full wrath of the law.
He decried a situation where some International Oil Companies (IOCs) deploy unapproved chemicals for analysis, warning that companies that sell dangerous chemicals and the buyer will be sanctioned if caught in the act.
Abiodun regretted that some operators compromise the analytical process, test results in connivance with consultants and operators.
According to the DPR laboratory chief, one other shortcoming identified by his team was the lack of capacity to repair and maintain high-tech and specialized laboratory equipment which was also highlighted as a major challenge, that laboratories need to strive to upgrade by obtaining relevant certifications, including ISO 17025:2017 certification.
He again restated the need to ensure that laboratory practice in the Nigerian oil and gas Industry conforms to Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) requirements.
Abiodun admonished operators to avoid reflecting the lowest bidder syndrome (Poor Contract Cost) on the quality of services rendered, saying laboratory operators and environmental consultants are advised to form an association to address shared values.
‘‘The need for regulators and joint venture partners to ensure adequate budgetary allocation to environmental/laboratory investigations to guarantee quality delivery of project while he enjoined operators and service providers to present more realistic budgets and bids respectively.
On waste handling, he said most laboratories handle waste in an improper manner with the majority of them having no Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with accredited waste managers, no waste manifest and lack of waste disposal certificates (hazardous waste).
As part of its roadmap for improvement of laboratory practice in Nigeria, Abiodun disclosed that the Department will henceforth conduct site suitability, accredit and de-list laboratories based on Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) requirements, tackle the lowest bidder issue through Health Safety and Environment (HSE) managers forum.
Others are; ensure that operators engage laboratories for environmental compliance monitoring exercise and that lube blending plants to have the minimum equipment for testing their products.
Going forward, he said the Department will track all the processes of laboratories from the sample collection stage to result in submission in order to ensure that the best international practices are adhered to.
Also reacting, Acting Director of DPR, Mr. Shakur Ahmad Rufai, warned that it would no longer be business as usual since the agency will leave no stone unturned to ensure that laboratories that do not meet the minimum required standards are shown the way out.
He admonished laboratory stakeholders to begin to chart a definitive and sustainable path towards the uncompromised and consistent quality of service and integrity of results.
‘‘Instructively, laboratory practice in the Nigerian oil and gas industry should not only be viewed as a business or money-making venture but should be seen as a critical and sensitive component which inputs are critical for decision-making across the oil and gas value chain.
Ruafi who was represented by the Head, Health Safety and Environment (HSE), Dr. Musa Zagi, noted that the quality and integrity of the data/results churned out from laboratories in the oil and gas sector of the economy is a critical ingredient in decision making (for both regulators and operators) without which there can be no real value addition and sustainability.
He disclosed that the DPR has put in place, machinery to ensure Good laboratory practice in the Nigerian oil and gas industry which includes the accreditation and permitting process for organizations/ companies rendering laboratory services in the sector has been further strengthened by the oil and gas laboratories Stakeholders’ Workshop since the first workshop which was held in 2015.
He reiterated the Department’s commitment towards working with all Stakeholders to drive and enhance Good Laboratory Practice within the sub-sector, encourage and (where necessary) enforce capacity building with the ultimate goal/objective of promoting sustainable development in the oil and gas industry.