Not too long ago, Nigeria’s oil and gas sector was dominated by international oil companies (IOCs) who all but overlooked indigenous companies for contracts. Fortunately, those days are fading into a past memory, as local service providers and operators prove their worth in the industry. For one such company, Tilone Subsea Nigeria Ltd, it took years before the IOCs took notice. Now, however, the company proudly lists some of the biggest foreign and domestic names in its client portfolio.
“Tilone Subsea got into the subsea market in 2001, but we didn’t get our first job until 2005. It wasn’t because we didn’t have the right partners or what it took to get the job done, but the IOCs never believed we could do it,” recalls Stanford Tassie, Managing Director and CEO. “All it took was for an IOC to give us a chance, and when that did happen we grabbed it, ran with it and delivered. It’s taken about ten years, but now the jinx is gradually breaking.”
Tilone renders marine contracting, subsea inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR), and engineering, environmental and procurement services to the offshore industry. Currently, the company is the undisputed indigenous leader in the provision of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which are used in underwater operations in crude oil production and development.
With the African continent on the verge of becoming the largest market for ROVs, Tilone is among the first in line for expansion. “Our strategy is to remain very strong in Nigeria, expand throughout the West Africa region, and then move to the East Africa region. From there we’ll move to Southern Africa,” says Mr Tassie. “In East Africa there isn’t much oil there now, but they are beginning to make some very good finds, and there is currently no presence there.”
As a 100% Nigerian company, Tilone Subsea is keen to show IOCs how competent local content really is. As far back as 2005, the company began training Nigerians to be ROV pilots.
“For each long term project we run, there is always a Nigerian content plan of training Nigerians to take over the expats’ positions over time,” explains Mr Tassie, who adds that foreign employees who are replaced by Nigerians are taken on board in higher positions.