All eyes are currently on East Africa as a new LNG frontier. Although oil and gas exploration has been ongoing in the region for a long time, until more recently there has been limited success due to doubts over the amount of recoverable resources, as well as the regional and civil unrest that deterred foreign companies and, to some extent, investment.
However, following sizeable discoveries in a number of countries including Mozambique and Tanzania, East Africa looks set to drive growth in the African natural gas sector and give a welcome boost to the global LNG market. But although recent discoveries have strengthened both Mozambique and Tanzania’s potential to become LNG exporters, a great deal needs to be done to improve infrastructure in both countries to make this a reality. Some analysts have also predicted that there may be an oversupply in LNG at some point in the future. The EIA states that success will depend on a number of factors including the shale gas boom in North America and China, the growth in liquefaction capacity in regions such as North America, Australia and the Middle East, regional demand, and the growth in the use of LNG in the transport sector.
The increase in LNG activity in Africa is sure to give a welcome boost to the region’s economy. However, it also comes at a time when the oil and gas industry is facing a global skills shortage.
With more than half of experienced engineers eligible to retire during the next five to ten years, and too few suitable skilled professionals coming through to replace them, the war for talent is intensifying, and it is difficult to find enough suitably experienced engineers to go around.
While there is no quick fix to addressing the skills shortage in Africa, the oil and gas industry is working hard to attract the people it needs at a global level. The sector is focused on creating more apprenticeships by working with educational establishments and institutions to educate the younger generation about the wide-ranging careers available working as an oil and gas engineer, and emphasising the importance of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as well as recruiting from other manufacturing and heavy industries, utilising ex-service personnel leaving the military and tackling stringent immigration policies.
Operators are also working hard to ensure skills are passed down from senior employees to the next generation of engineers and that knowledge and skills are transferred across geographic and cultural boundaries. Skills and knowledge transfer programmes are a key tool in helping the industry ensure it has the appropriately trained people it needs to ‘keep the lights on’. Many major oil and gas producing regions, including Africa, have introduced local content requirements into their regulatory framework to create jobs for nationals, develop skills, and promote technology transfer. Companies also recognise the importance of reducing the high cost of maintaining an international workforce by recruiting local talent.
However, while the African talent pool is deepening, there are certain skills that are simply not readily available in the local market, which is where expatriates can play an important part in transferring skills to the local workforce. Having said that, with African LNG projects competing with other high profile global LNG projects in attractive locations such as Western Australia, and only so many experienced engineers to go around, this in itself can be challenging.
Sophisticated employee retention strategies, including attractive benefits packages, are another consideration for the industry, but again, they come at a price. Thankfully, oil and gas can afford to make that investment in order to reap the rewards of being one of the most desirable industries in the world to work in.
In challenging locations, such as Africa, it is vital that people feel safe and secure. NES Global Talent attends the same training as its contractors to ensure that it fully understands the necessary safety and security requirements. The company even parkates in high risk territory training and replicating hostage taking situations. Its in-house security experts and security partners ensure that it is up to speed with the latest developments around the world, keeping any potential risks to a minimum and giving its candidates and their families the support they need when operating in challenging locations.
In order to make the most of Africa’s huge LNG potential, energy companies need to be able to boost the home-grown workforce by taking on the best people from around the world. If the industry can overcome the talent shortage, the future looks bright.
- ‘World LNG Report’, 2013 Edition, International Gas Union
- ‘Emerging East Africa Energy’, Energy Information Administration
- ‘Natural Gas in Africa - The Frontiers of the Golden Age’, Ernst & Young
- Chevron’s Angola LNG press release
- Angola LNG press release
- EG LNG website
To read the full version of this article, download a copy of the November/December issue of LNG Industry.
Written by Ford Garrard, NES Global Talent, UK
Edited by Callum O'Reilly
Read the article online at: https://www.lngindustry.com/lng-shipping/23122013/the_future_is_bright_lng_565/