sharing in governance of extractive industries

Petroleum training an attractive option for working Ugandans

"This story was first posted on www.oilinuganda.org

According to the Schlumberger 2011 Oil and Gas HR Benchmark Survey, the oil and gas industry is going through the ‘big crew change’ as generations of petroleum professionals hired in the seventies and eighties approach retirement. In fact, 22,000 of them will have exited the industry by 2015.

Such findings underscore the shortage of skilled local manpower in the oil and gas industry, a problem that is even more severe in frontier areas like Uganda.

In an attempt to fill this gap, several institutions have come forward to train Ugandans to enable them acquire jobs, or at least be able to offer consultancy services to the oil industry.

“We realised that there was a big gap,” says Patrick Ruharuza, the Chief Executive of Quest Energy . “Our universities did not believe that Uganda had the manpower to sustain oil and gas training locally,” he told Oil in Uganda.

Since 2011, Quest Energy, through its partnership with Makerere University Business School, has graduated 120 students.

According to Patrick Danaux, the OGAS Solutions Country Director, such trainings will build Ugandans’ capacity in oil and gas.

“These trainings are meant to provide Ugandans with the necessary skills needed in the industry,” he says. “The length of each training session is variable depending on the nature of the training needed.”

Costly, but shorter option

Rather than enrol for a four year petroleum course at a university, most people are choosing to cast their nets a little wider, by taking shorter petroleum course to complement their existing qualifications.

But while it is a saving on time, these courses are more costly than the university ones. For example, an eight-week online course offered by Rtenn Petroleum, the local representative of the Norwegian Petroleum Academy , costs 500 dollars, while a six month post graduate certificate offered by Quest Energy costs twice that.

In contrast, a Bachelors Degree in Petroleum Geosciences and Petroleum at Makerere University costs around 500 dollars a semester.

According to Mr. Danaux, the training cost depends on the number of participants.

“The trainings basically vary from around 50 dollars per head a day to a much higher cost. It also depends on the required equipment,” he says.  “For example some drilling trainings require importation of a well simulator from abroad to support the course,” he explains.

Value for money

Quest Energy’s Ruharuza notes that the lecturers they use are conversant with the industry and are qualified for the job.

“These trainers are solid” he says. “They have the zeal and skills,” he affirms.

Mr. Oscar Kihika, a Kampala-based lawyer agrees that the training he undertook in Oil and Gas Management Essentials organized by Quest Energy broadened his understanding of the industry.

“It was worthwhile because it was basically an introduction to the oil and gas sector,” he told Oil in Uganda.

Samson Lokeris, a Ugandan Member of Parliament, admitted that the training he attended in Nairobi last April, organised by Rtenn Petroleum, helped him to understand the oil and gas industry in Uganda.

“The training enabled us to understand the nature of Uganda’s oil and the whole oil exploration process. It cleared some of the assumptions I had regarding oil explorations,” he told Oil in Uganda.

Yet, he noted, such trainings are not hands on.

“These trainings are good but they need to have more practical sessions so that we relate the theory we have been given. Showing us wastes on screens is not helpful, we need to see what we are learning,” he observed.

Nevertheless, many Ugandan professionals will continue to turn to these short term courses in order to obtain the much needed knowledge on oil and gas and hopefully qualify to offer a service to the oil and gas industry, the cost of the training not with standing.

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Comment by Joseph Smith on July 23, 2013 at 19:49

Very good article Beatrice, keep on the good work for the good governance of extractive industries in Africa. so that Africa we can address the issues around the paradox of  plenty. Young people are also doing similar works here in my post war country where mineral wealth supported the economics of our ten years civil carnage and created the involvement of mercenary groups thus, prolonging the armed conflict.   


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