IPG 2011-2013 CAPEX: USD 10 million
IPG 2014-2015 CAPEX: USD 2.5 million
A boost for Gabon’s oil skillsApril 19, 2016
Managing director of The Oil and Gas institute, Marc-Antoine Igondjo, talks to TOGY about the newly developed educational training programme that aims to raise the level of Gabon’s local content in support of the nation’s deepwater plays. The Oil and Gas Institute (IPG) was developed beginning in 2011 in collaboration with Shell, Total Gabon and Perenco with the goal of providing Gabon with a petroleum-engineer-endorsed training programme for next generation of hydrocarbons personnel.
Can you provide us with updates on the training programme you are offering?
We mainly accept students with an engineering or master’s degree in civil engineering, electro-mechanics, hydraulics and general engineering who wish to specialise in the oil and gas industry. We also accept experienced people who are already working at Gabonese oil companies.
The application process includes an entry exam in maths, physics and chemistry as well as a review of previous academic achievements. In early 2014 to June 2015, the first group of students entered the programme. Once the study period is completed there is an exam marked by a committee, which includes the French Petroleum institute (IFP), as we work in partnership with them.
Fifteen students have graduated from the programme and they are currently looking for employment in petroleum companies in Gabon. The second group of 15 students started in March 2015. They will graduate in September 2016.
The institute was established in partnership with the Gabonese government, Shell, Total Gabon and Perenco. How do these companies benefit from this partnership?
Shell Gabon, Total Gabon and Perenco Oil & Gas Gabon contribute financially to the Oil and Gas Institute and they are on the board of directors. Upon graduation, subject to availability, successful students can find employment in those companies.
However, this is not exclusive to those three companies, any petrol company can recruit graduates from our programme. The institute serves as a training hub that provides technical skills to local engineers and managers within the petrol industry.
How does the Gabonese Republic contribute to this initiative?
The institute’s budget comes from the petroleum companies themselves and we are currently working with the state for the implementation of a government subsidy to meet at least part of the training and maintenance costs.
What is the institute’s budget?
The institute’s CAPEX budget in 2011-2013 was USD 10 million. The initial costs included the construction costs for the facilities.
Today, we mainly require a budget for the ongoing training so the necessary budget is far less. The yearly budget for 2014-2015 is around USD 2.5 million, covered by the three operators (training costs = 75% and structure fixed costs=25%). The contribution of each partner to the budget is a decision made on a yearly basis by the board of directors.
Are you trying to partner with other operators?
Total Gabon, Shell Gabon and Perenco Oil & Gas Gabon are the main operating partners but the Gabonese state encourage other companies in the industry to take part in this project in order to increase access to the programme.
These companies wouldn’t be expected to contribute the same amount, of course. We are currently in discussions with Addax Petroleum, Vaalco and Maurel & Prom who are interested in working with us. We have only been operational for just under two years so this is all work in progress at the moment. We expect to be working with more companies as time goes on.
What is the nature of the institute’s partnership with the French Petroleum institute?
We initially provide preparatory classes in maths, physics and chemistry in co-operation with the University of Science and Technology of Masuku which provides us with teachers. The next phase in the programme concentrates on specialised training including drilling, reservoirs and processes.
At this stage, the French Petroleum Institute provides us with specialists who train our students. These individuals are not only experts in their fields but they are also excellent instructors. It is not enough to be a good engineer if you want to provide training.
This is quite costly and, of course, one way to reduce costs will be to have local specialists with the required skills to become trainers. But, this will take time.
The long-term goal is to ensure we have local professionals with the necessary teaching skills who can transfer their knowledge to young people. This takes time as those professionals are often at retirement age so it involves re-integrating them into the industry and ensuring that they acquire those teaching skills.
Can you elaborate on the institute’s partnership with NExT, the Schlumberger subsidiary responsible for delivering training in the industry?
The partnership we have with NExT is very similar to the one we have with IFP. Not all training centres issue a diploma. NExt allows professionals to formally validate competencies that successful students have acquired during their training.
They can be certified by NExT as long as the company guarantees the programme. Operators need to ensure that they recruit staff that have acquired the necessary skills through an accredited programme. So we have to ensure we only work with training centres that have been approved by operators.
What is the institute’s long-term vision?
It is important that students who graduate from the training programme can find employment. Currently there are deep offshore explorations in Gabon, which will most probably be operational in the next five to six years.
We have five years to provide young professionals with the necessary skills. When the market recovers, we need to be in a position where we have well-trained, skilled people available to pick up the industry and develop it further.
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