CGG partners with SNH for 2018 Cameroon licensing round

CGG partners with SNH for 2018 Cameroon licensing round

Friday, 19 January 2018 06:59

CGG has si...

Eni introduces HPC4 for advanced computing system across oil and gas industry

Eni introduces HPC4 for advanced computi…

Friday, 19 January 2018 06:31

Eni has launched its new HPC4 supercomputer, aiming to quadruple its computing power and make it one of the world’s most powerful industrial systems

TGT announces well diagnostics breakthrough

TGT announces well diagnostics breakthro…

Thursday, 18 January 2018 06:25

TGT Oilfield Services, provider of through-barrier diagnostic systems, has announced the successful validation of its electromagnetic EmPulse well inspection system in high chromium tubulars

Standard Bank and ICBC finance Mozambique LNG deal

Standard Bank and ICBC finance Mozambiqu…

Thursday, 18 January 2018 06:01

With a Coral Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) development project worth US$8bn, Mozambique aims to emerge as a regional and global offshore natural gas producer and supplier

Morocco plans US$4.6bn tender for natural gas plant

Morocco plans US$4.6bn tender for natura…

Wednesday, 17 January 2018 06:53

Morocco is planning to build a tender worth US$4.6bn for a natural gas project, which is in line with the country’s strategy to enhance its energy mix and autonomy

Tullow expects to report revenue of US$1.7bn for 2017

Tullow expects to report revenue of US$1…

Tuesday, 16 January 2018 09:37

Tullow Oil has revealed that the company delivered strong operational and financial performance for 2017, with the production expecting to continue in 2018 as well

Aggreko to provide stable power in Madagascar

Aggreko to provide stable power in Madag…

Tuesday, 16 January 2018 07:17

Aggreko, a global supplier of temporary power generation equipment, has started to supply its HFO-generated power to Madagascar, in a joint operation with energy company Jovena

Nigeria's Edo State to develop 5,500 bpd modular refinery

Nigeria's Edo State to develop 5,500 bpd…

Tuesday, 16 January 2018 06:37

Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State in Nigeria, has signed a MoU with a Chinese consortium for the development of a 5,500 bpd modular refinery in Edo State

NOC wins arbitration case over Ras Lanuf Refinery in Libya

NOC wins arbitration case over Ras Lanuf…

Friday, 12 January 2018 06:38

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has won two international arbitration cases for the 220,000 bpd-capacity Ras Lanuf Refinery, and said that production would resume as early as possible

Chinese Sinopec to acquire Chevron South Africa

Chinese Sinopec to acquire Chevron South…

Friday, 12 January 2018 06:18

Sinopec, one of China's largest state-owned companies, has undertaken to invest US$480mn in South Africa to upgrade and modernise Chevron South Africa’s Cape Town-based oil refinery

254 companies bid for Nigerian crude grades: NNPC

254 companies bid for Nigerian crude gra…

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 09:32

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has started the process for the selection of off-takers for Nigeria’s crude oil grades in 2018, with 254 companies expressing interest to participate in...

C-Innovation forms subsea projects group for an integrated subsea solutions

C-Innovation forms subsea projects group…

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 06:10

C-Innovation, LLC (C-I), an affiliate of Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO), has formed a turnkey subsea projects group to provide a complete solution to its global customer base

China’s Sinopec to use Eni’s EST technology

China’s Sinopec to use Eni’s EST technol…

Tuesday, 09 January 2018 06:21

Eni has sold the licence and basic engineering project to the Chinese company Sinopec to construct a refining plant using the Eni Slurry Technology (EST)

Algeria's Sonatrach to help in Iraq’a oil and gas exploration projects

Algeria's Sonatrach to help in Iraq’a oi…

Monday, 08 January 2018 06:50

The government-run energy company of Algeria, Sonatrach, is planning possible investment opportunities in Iraq’s oil exploration and natural gas projects

Explorers primed for 2018, although caution likely to be paramount: Wood Mackenzie

Explorers primed for 2018, although caut…

Friday, 05 January 2018 06:21

Wood Mackenzie has indicated hard competition for prime exploration targets as sector emerges from downturn in 2018

NETZSCH introduces NOTOS multiple screw pumps

NETZSCH introduces NOTOS multiple screw …

Thursday, 04 January 2018 08:53

NETZSCH Pumpen & Systeme GmbH has launched its NOTOS line of multiple screw pumps for pumping applications in the oil and gas, marine, power and general industrial markets

HR specialists the natural choice

Recruitment has entered a difficult period in all corners of fast-expanding Africa. Only true professionals can both pick up company ‘culture’ and weave in progressive ideas.

AFRICA’S TOP O&G executives operate in a ‘global village’ where most know one another, uniform standards are maintained and career opportunities can be discussed before they arise. Electronic communication makes all this possible, but the recent misunderstanding at the CITES conference in Qatar – a new automated voting system produced a ludicrous result - showed how people can never be made redundant.

However the culture – the unspoken ‘how we do things around here’ - of this community is changing rapidly as fewer expatriates are employed as policy, more institutions like Nigeria’s universities adjust the content of their engineering courses to take account of new shortages, and the industry adapts to the simultaneous arrival of a skills crisis (upcoming retirement of the 1970s oil-boom intake) and a surfeit in other areas as riskier downstream projects go on ‘hold’.

It all adds up to heavy and conflicting demands on the human resources (HR) professionals, who on the one hand see many of their traditional responsibilities being transferred to electronic self-service, while on the other their masters demand a revised plan to make sure they are covered for upcoming vacancies that must be properly filled.

A whole specialism has grown up to cope with these stresses, which are particularly acute in the oil and gas industries in Africa. Just relying on more technology is not going to bridge the gap, and an unfilled executive position might save the operator US$100K-plus annually in salary, costs and benefits but load more than ten times this onto the wrong side of the accounts – year after year.

Having an in-depth understanding of this unwritten company culture is one of the prime reasons to retain a proper recruitment team, especially if the arrangement is maintained over more than one round of the business cycle. It might cost more in the short term over going it alone, but over years it will pay for itself many times over. And almost certainly result in a better carry-over of skilled personnel when the new recruitment round begins too.

Before contacting potential recruits the good HR consultant will take time to learn from the client about these unstated ground rules. They are to be found in organisations of every size. For example, in a national trading business like import/export often the boss is only seen and heard when something goes wrong. In a multi- or international business like consulting engineering formal procedures defined overseas are often paid lip service too only. And in the very specialised worlds of oil and gas – plural because these industries have so many facets from E&P through downstream processing as well as the massive business of moving products – there are very special ground rules that ensure an excellent record of safe operation, but not necessarily of service too.

Today’s recruitment professionals know about the importance of all this, especially those businesses that specialise in huge industries like energy, or in successful ‘business provinces’ like ECOWAS.

However they also know that company culture is changing around the world in response to new circumstances like environmental pressure, the whole flavour of new administrations, especially the USA’s, international agreements binding WTO members, and the impact of electronic social networking.

The result is new-style objectives as stated in those glossy company reports, with values like sustainability predominating over the numbers banished to the back, a huge increase in reliance on IT, adoption of international standards on retirement (such as abandonment of default ages), new lines of communication in the form of ways of speaking to/hearing from the boss, and adoption of consulting rather than top-down approaches to organisation and methods.

The best specialised recruitment businesses know of all these trends and the extent to which what is happening elsewhere is reflected in the special conditions here in Africa. They will endeavour to supply only candidates who fit the bill.

As examples, in Nigeria right now the emphasis is on actually conserving as much energy as possible, even though this is one of the world’s most well-endowed nations. So a vigorous programme of renewables is being pursued as a means of reducing demand on generators, even the in-house ones.

In IT, miniaturisation prevails, so if it can’t be conveyed on a hand-held screen it probably won’t be heard at all.

Retirement wise, experienced local recruiters recognise that life expectancies here are shorter than elsewhere, family obligations more demanding and that the ‘Western’ model on rules and expectations cannot be imported wholesale.

And in terms of communication the old military method of doing things by order is unlikely to work in many parts of the Africa of today. Nigeria’s NOC seems to be modeling its future on Brazil’s, no longer just an arm of tax-reliant government but a multi-faceted trading enterprise in its own right, able to raise funds when and where it needs. And Ghana, a complete newcomer to the hydrocarbon industry, is a beacon of democracy and good order.

So progressive O&G operators here recognise that they operate within precincts of a potentially much more prosperous global village. But at the same time they know that, unless they move with the times, some of their advantages could be thrown away. Having a good team of HR professionals on board can prevent this from happening.

Finally, two examples from very recent research of what can happen if none of this is paid heed to, and of the business upturn that can be enjoyed if all goes well.

Crude World

by Peter Maass (276pp, 2009) describes the oil business of old, with examples drawn from most corners of the world to show what happens when "the way we do things around here" is seriously flawed. But the future for exciting newcomer regions like West Africa, the Southwest coast and the Great Lakes doesn’t have to be like that. In his book The future of work (256pp, 2009) Richard Donkin paints a picture of what positive results can follow if a company adapts, with the aid of a good HR team, of course.

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
T: +44 20 7834 7676, F: +44 20 7973 0076, W: www.alaincharles.com

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