South Africa has fallen behind the rest of Africa in the oil and gas industry in terms of skills, exploration and legislation, says OPITO (which used to be known as the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation before it was internationally recognised) accredited offshore training company Offshore Africa Training Centre (OATC) CEO Gary Concar.
Compared with other African countries, where there are examples of collaboration between oil and gas companies and governments to provide training initiatives – such as in Nigeria where federal government is seeking collaboration with oil suppliers – Concar notes that more can be done in South Africa to have local workers prepared for the challenges of the oil and gas industries.
However, in contrast to most countries that would require OPITO accreditation for oil and gas operations, Concar laments the struggles of OPITO-accredited workers and operations in South Africa.
Concar emphasises the challenges that can arise from this, using the example of a trainee working at a harbour for experience who experiences an incident or injury, with the OPITO accreditation of the trainee not being recognised and that worker being liable and culpable for the incident.
Concar also highlights a problem for workers that would want to work in oil and gas operations in both South Africa and other countries. “If they want to do so, they would need to attain both South African and OPITO accreditation, doubling the personal funds and time that would be needed to train in both courses and subsequently work locally and internationally.”
Owing to this, OATC trains workers based on the international OPITO standards. He adds that oil and gas companies, especially international companies, that want to start doing exploration and mining would need OPITO-accredited workers for their operations.
Given that South Africa has agreed to join the African Continental Free Trade Area, which creates a platform that could allow for more free trade within Africa, Concar says this could be beneficial for South Africa and the flow of knowledge and skills throughout Africa.