Borehole drilling in Africa

Since being founded in 1912, our work has taken us to exciting locations near and far. In 1975, George Stow Nigeria Ltd was set up, and we were commissioned to start a phase of work drilling for groundwater in the world’s second largest continent.

G Stow had a big presence in Nigeria, with offices in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Ilorin, Kaduna, Sokoto and a head office in Kano. There were various numbers of employees based at each site and they worked on a six-month contract, rotating between six months on site and one month at home in the UK before returning to Nigeria. They were paid in the local currency, Naira.

Drilling work was carried out in Sokoto, Ilorin, Enugu and Port Harcourt, with 3-4 drilling crews on site and equipment shipped over such as rotary and percussion drilling rigs, Land Rovers, compressors, generators, and steel tubing for lining boreholes. Over the years that G Stow were based in Nigeria, it’s estimated they drilled approximately 1,000 boreholes, providing the Nigerian country with thousands of cubic litres of groundwater.

Mike Baker, Sales Engineer, joined G Stow in 1974. He swapped UK life for the experience of working in Nigeria from 1975 until the early eighties. Mike was based in the Lagos office where he was responsible for the shipping. Equipment would be procured and shipped to Nigeria from the UK and Mike would meet the vessel, get the equipment offloaded and transported to various G Stow sites.

Mike commented: “Working in Nigeria was an amazing experience, however, there seemed to be little law and order and I was attacked on several occasions during my time there. There were a lot of good, religious people but others were violent and extreme. It was a completely different world. It is fascinating to compare the attitudes and methods on site in those days, compared with the present day.”

G Stow spent approximately ten years drilling for groundwater in Nigeria before George Stow Nigeria Ltd closed due to a decrease in work. During this time, the industry was male dominated and it seems that, fifty years later, that’s about to change…

Click here to view the article ‘Nigeria: Meet the one of the country’s first female borehole engineers’ on the BBC News website.