After funding the training of over 2, 500 MSc and 642 PhD Scholars in various oil and gas academic disciplines in its 15 years of operation, the management of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) under the leadership of Acting Executive secretary, Mr. Ahmed Galadima Aminu decided to review the direction of its training programmes taking into consideration the funding constraints arising from declining crude oil price in the international market.

This resulted in a strategic shift in the implementation of the Overseas Scholarship Scheme with more emphasis on domestication and transfer of technology. To put this initiative on stream, the Petroleum Technology Development Fund is going into partnership with some institutions abroad for joint sponsorship arrangement on scholar’s tuition and for research.

At present, the Fund has concluded discussions and consultations for partnership agreements with the German Academic Exchange Services; The French Government Eiffel Executive Scholarship; The Brazil National Council for Scientific and Technological Development; The Sao Paulo Research Foundation; and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

On the 12th of May, 2016, the Acting Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund Mr. Ahmed Galadima Aminu took the first major step in giving effect to these collaborative arrangements in the operation of PTDF Overseas Scholarship Scheme, when he led a delegation of PTDF officials to endorse a Letter of Intent towards formalizing a strategic partnership between the Petroleum Technology Development Fund and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Letter of Intent for International co-operation between the Fund and the Brazilian Institution was signed on behalf of the University of Sao Paulo by the Director/Dean, Professor José Roberto Castilho Piqueira while Ahmed Galadima Aminu, Acting Executive Secretary, endorsed the agreement on behalf of the Fund.

The signing ceremony which took place at the administration building of the University of Sao Paulo, Butanta, Brazil heralds the commencement of a new initiative in the operation of PTDF Overseas Scholarship Scheme. As from September 2016, PTDF will start sending Nigerian scholars to the University on free tuition arrangement. This development, the Acting Executive Secretary says is historic and a great milestone achievement for the Fund.

“This event today (12-05-2016) marks the formalisation of a relationship between PTDF and one of the outstanding universities in Brazil and indeed in South America. For the first time we are sending Nigerian students overseas to study oil and gas related courses on tuition free basis, so we are highly excited with the collaboration. We believe that this is going to be the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between PTDF and the University of Sao Paulo and between Nigeria and Brazil”.

Professor José Roberto Castilho Piqueira, Dean University of Sao Paulo said the event sign-posts the commencement of an enduring relationship and partnership between the University and a great country like Nigeria through PTDF to achieve technological independence. “We are very committed to starting a new international collaboration. It is important to have a country like Nigeria as our partner because for us it is very important to have technological independence for countries like Nigeria and Brazil. So it is a pleasure to receive your students here and we are going to do our best in our graduate programme for the students. We hope that this relationship will survive for years in order to sustain the collaboration between us”

The Consul-General, Consulate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Brazil, Muntari Abdul Kaita who witnessed the signing of the documents of Intent, recalled the long standing relationship between Nigeria and Brazil particularly in the promotion of educational and technological opportunities through the students exchange programme about 30 years ago. He said the new agreement between PTDF and USP will open a new vista of opportunity for transfer of knowledge and technology, based on South-South co-operation.

“The relationship between Nigeria and Brazil has been on for a very long time. We have lots of Nigerians that passed through the University of Sao Paulo. Today they have settled here and contributing their own part. But this new agreement between PTDF and USP will open a new vista of opportunity for us. We have seen in Brazil a lot of things that we envy and we want to have them in Nigeria. And since you are willing to transfer such knowledge and technology to us, it is a thing of pride. This event of today is of high significance to us as a government. We give credit to the university of Sao Paulo administration and also thanks to PTDF for taking advantage of the academic opportunities offered by the University and we look forward to having more co-operation with Brazilian Institutions”.

The letter of intent is a commitment by both parties to in the course of the relationship reduce all the terms into a valid Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) to be signed at a future date.

A cardinal principle of the partnership is that every research area that will be conducted by Nigerian scholars in the university will be towards solving problems of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. According to the General Manager, Legal and Secretariat Services Department, Mr. Balarabe Ahmed who reviewed the agreement, said “All the topics of research must be on areas that take care of the problems of Nigeria. It must be of practical value and we have a convergence of interest between us and the university”. He emphasised that circumstances of dwindling financial resources makes it imperative for PTDF to seek pragmatic ways of continuing to provide its scholars with the best education and training in oil and gas at less cost.

“I have to emphasize that this partnership enables us to send students to this university without payment of any tuition fee and it is incumbent on us to pay only for the maintenance of the scholars which is not the case when we take them to institutions in the United kingdom and the United States where we pay exorbitant school fees. This is what we are trying to avoid considering the times and circumstances”.

The Letter of Intent signed by PTDF and USP proposes to establish a mutual co-operation in the conduct of academic projects for the purpose of teaching, research and community service. Under the terms of the agreement, the signatory institutions may exchange scholars and students. In this regard, both PTDF and USP agreed to start the co-operation with 20 post graduate students from Nigeria commencing their studies at the University of Sao Paulo in September 2016. The agreement specifically provides that there will be no tuition fees applied to PTDF scholars for the duration of their studies in the University.

Professor Georgio De Tomi, Head of Department of Mining and Petroleum Engineering, University of Sao Paulo, speaking on the historic signing of the agreement, said as petroleum is a very important resource to both Nigeria and Brazil, there is a need to develop the means and technology to harness the resource.

“So we are very excited with this opportunity to work with PTDF to develop new solutions and training people to face the challenge of the future in terms of the production of oil. The main concern is to get to know the resource, learn methods and acquire technology that will be used to model our oil fields and plan on how best to use technology to extract oil in a competitive manner taking into account the characteristics of each region and its location”.

The University of Sao Paulo otherwise known as ESCOLA POLITECHNICA DA UNIVERSIDADE DE SAO PAULO is ranked among the best 50 engineering schools in the world mainly in the area of petroleum.

The Petroleum Technology Development Fund intends to execute similar agreements with the French Government through the French Embassy and the German academic exchange programme under which PTDF scholars will enjoy the benefits of free tuition studies in addition to free visa processing and free health insurance. According to Head, Education Division, PTDF Mrs. Rabia’h Umar Waziri- Adamu “These collaborations we have undertaken globally will actually give us maximum value in terms of sending students abroad”.

Kalu Otisi Esq.

Head, Press and External Relations

May 18, 2016