Namibia: Petroleum Industry in Dire Need of Skills – Mulemi

Namibia's success story in capacitating its local petroleum industry came under the spotlight at the 12th Annual Getenergy Conference currently underway in London, England. Delegates attending the session describe Namibia's achievements in resourcing its petroleum industry, as a "compelling case study", worth emulating. This comes in the wake of the Global Petroleum Survey Policy Perceptions Index 2015, released in March 2016, which ranked Namibia as the top oil and gas investment destination in Africa.

Closing the Monday afternoon session of the conference, chief executive officer of PetroFund Nillian Mulemi told the session that the Namibian Petroleum Act has made it obligatory for oil exploration companies to make a contribution towards building capacity in the sector. All such funds are paid directly to the PetroFund and not the government. While welcoming compliments on the country's achievements, Mulemi noted that there is a dire need for oil and gas vocational skills.

She remarked PetroFund has devoted most of its resources to high level skills training in the form of engineers and geoscientists and has not funded vocational training for the sector. The PetroFund chief administrator said the country is now investigating oil and gas vocational skills needs and requirements with the view of supporting such training in future.

Mulemi added that there was a slight over-supply of geoscientists and that the Fund is now looking at rather up-skilling current geoscientists with Master's degrees, and not fund first degree applicants for this discipline.

Supporting her remarks, Shell Namibia country chairman Dennis Zekveld said Namibia has done exceptionally well in resourcing the petroleum industry, despite what he described as the country's dark history of apartheid and colonialism. Zekveld affirmed Shell's commitment to capacity building in the Namibian petroleum sector, saying it is a great equaliser for a country that has one of the highest income inequality gaps in the world. He added that Shell is part of a task force comprising PetroFund, Namcor and the Ministry of Mines and Energy that is tirelessly working on identifying envisaged future industry needs and a plan of action.

Echoing his remarks, Namcor's Albert Khevare said the national oil company is closely working with government on the N$3 billion Bulk Fuel Storage Facility Project at Walvis Bay and the Kudu Gas Project. He said Namcor is working around the clock to ensure that its staff members are sufficiently resourced to run these national projects, once they come into operation.

PetroFund has trained a total of 262 engineers and geoscientists since 1991. The organisation also funded the Master's degree programme in petroleum studies at the University of Namibia with millions.

Namibia presents a business-friendly environment. With royalties set across the board at 5 percent and a number of investment incentives in place, including a VAT waiver and other tax advantages for oil and gas companies, Namibia has been able to attract a number of international players in recent years, including Repsol, Shell and Tullow Oil. Namibia currently has about 47 Licence operators.

Source: New Era