Oluwadare Agbelese talks about his journey from Nigeria’s national oil company to post-graduate studies at the University of Dundee which launched his career and shaped his perspective on energy policy.
“Having taken courses on Petroleum Law at undergraduate level in Nigeria, which, among other things, underscored the significance of the development of hydrocarbon in the country, I knew that I wanted to study a course that would put me in a position to be instrumental to the advancement of my country’s socio-economic status,” says Oluwadare ‘Dare’ Agbelese. Dare undertook his postgraduate studies at the University of Dundee, earning an LLM focussed on Energy Law and Policy.
When he looked locally in Nigeria for post-graduate options, he simply could not find the depth of course offerings that were suited to his ambitions and career desires. The University of Dundee, Dare found, offered the unique ability to tailor courses to get the experience that he wanted.
“Petroleum Law and Policy was my initial focus – I, however, realised that I could broaden my area of study to encompass the entire energy value chain, including gas utilisation and electricity. I loved the depth of the offerings.”
His introduction to these offerings came from his mentors who supervised him during his mandatory National Youth Service stint at Nigeria’s national oil company. These alumni described their experience at Dundee positively saying it was “the best” for his ambitions and recommended that he pursue further study there. Furthermore, their career trajectories offered him a preview of the professional opportunities that awaited him if he followed a similar pathway.
In 2011, he heeded their advice and headed for Dundee to undertake his LLM studies. While there, he found the teaching engaging, a diverse student body and a willingness by staff to help international students acclimatise.
“The quality of the teaching,” says Dare, “is top notch – the best you could get anywhere. The degree was more than a certification experience – the faculty wanted to impart usable knowledge that you could deploy and make a valuable impact irrespective of the part of the world you came from.”
Added to the positive student experience, Dare found an influential and engaged alumni network that has not only helped him with his career progression but also with his professional work.
He still uses resources from Dundee, such as the CEPMLP’s Academic Peer Review Publication and CEPMLP Annual Review (CAR) site which has articles written by students and lecturers. Furthermore, there is an active professional alumni community on various social networks that he is in regular contact with and can reach out to if he has any needs or questions.
His studies of Energy Law and Policy have also refined his perspective about the Nigerian energy market and allowed him to see it in the global context.
“Although the energy discussion today is primarily centred on renewables, comprehensively adopting this strategy may not be practical for resource-rich developing countries like Nigeria. Dundee understands that certain economies need to leverage on responsibly developing hydrocarbon resources while transitioning towards cleaner sources of energy. They give you a good insight of the experiences of mature energy provinces, and the lessons that newer jurisdictions may adopt. The faculty has thought-leaders that are well versed on the African energy sector, both from an investor and government/policy angle.”
This grounding in policy reality, combined with a powerful network of alumni and flexible degree study structure, drew Dare to Dundee. Most importantly, he was drawn to how future-forward his studies were, saying “Dundee is way ahead of the market – things we studied 10 years ago are only just becoming topical in the Nigerian energy space.”
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