Employment, training, healthcare and financial services provider Workforce Holdings is part of a consortium that has successfully won a recruitment tender from engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company TechnipFMC to supply Mozambican staff to various positions in several large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects under way in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.
Workforce Africa – a cluster of Workforce Holdings – has a Mozambican arm that is well positioned to supply labour into the Area 1 Mozambique LNG project, led by oil and gas multinational Total, as well as the upcoming Area 4 Rovuma LNG project, led by oil and gas multinationals Exxon Mobil and Eni.
TechnipFMC, in alliance with JGC Corporation and Fluor Corporation, was awarded the EPC contract in October last year by the Mozambique Rovuma Venture (MRV) for the Rovuma LNG onshore LNG production complex project in Cabo Delgado.
The Rovuma LNG project is still awaiting financial investment decision (FID), which was expected in June, but delayed owing to Covid-19 and a drop in oil prices. The general industry expectation is that an FID of about $30-billion will be announced next year.
Meanwhile, TechnipFMC was awarded various subsea contracts by oil and gas company Anadarko for the Mozambique LNG project in June last year. Anadarko sold its share in the project to Total in September last year.
“We have an excellent database of skilled and experienced candidates, and we will be working in alliance with various companies to supply staffing to these projects,” Workforce Africa MD Darren Hollander says.
He adds that Workforce Africa has been working with EPC companies and various subcontractors, as well as industry stakeholders involved in the projects, supplying thousands of employees at a time.
“The influx of foreign investment has begun and will continue for the next ten to 20 years. The magnitude of these projects will require an enormous array of local and international skills,” Hollander notes.
To ensure that supplied labour is adequately upskilled, Workforce Africa can provide a variety of technical and generalist training courses at all levels, as well as health, safety, environment and quality (HSEQ) training courses through the company’s network of partners in Mozambique and South Africa.
Hollander notes that in-depth knowledge and understanding of international HSEQ standards is critical in the LNG sector.
He reveals that Workforce Africa has also been invited to tender for more than 500 different training courses required by the Eni-led Coral South floating LNG (FLNG) project, the Rovuma LNG project and various subcontractors.
The $3.5-billion Coral South FLNG project is under way, with LNG delivery expected by 2022. It is the world’s first ultra-deepwater FLNG facility to operate at water depths of as much as 2000 m, about 100 km off the coast of Cabo Delgado.
Hollander says many of the Mozambican recruits are unskilled, but that Workforce Africa is confident that it can upskill them from grassroots level. This includes basic courses in English to achieving HSEQ certification from the UK’s National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, and the Institution of Safety and Health.
“Mozambique has a severe skills shortage and training is going to play a vital role in ensuring that the country remains competitive and meets international standards and demands,” he says, adding that this cannot be achieved through government interventions alone, as “the active participation of the private sector is essential”.
The LNG projects also present many opportunities for skilled and experienced South African workers, particularly during the early stages of the projects.
“Workers with previous onshore and offshore LNG experience, as well as those with specialist technical skills, will be in great demand,” Hollander notes.
Employment opportunities on the LNG projects were negatively affected by Covid-19 in the short term, since Afungi – where the projects are being developed – was an epicentre for the viral outbreak in Mozambique. The situation has since stabilised.
“The Mozambique LNG project worked very closely with the Mozambican health authorities to manage any cases of Covid-19 at, or in connection with, the project site. In agreement with the Ministry of Health, we have implemented many health management protocols, and the site was declared a ‘Covid-19-controlled’ environment in June,” explains Total Mozambique country chair Ronan Bescond.
Hollander says Workforce Africa used the Covid-19 outbreak period as an opportunity to grow and develop its database of skills, as well as increase its footprint and services.
In addition to Covid-19, the ongoing militant insurgency in the Cabo Delgado province has caused uncertainty and fear, negatively impacting on the rollout of certain aspects of the projects.
“Total is concerned by the violence in Cabo Delgado, which affects local communities first and foremost. However, despite the challenges associated with the insurgent attacks, we remain on track to deliver first cargoes of LNG in 2024,” Bescond tells Mining Weekly.
Hollander notes that the greatest challenges in working on these projects are logistical in nature, given the isolated and underdeveloped areas in which they are situated.
All the support infrastructure will need to be constructed, with an entirely new ‘Gas City’ being developed by the Mozambican government.
“Regional instability, poor education and a general dearth of skills mean that the Mozambican workforce is completely unprepared to participate in these projects without intervention and upskilling,” Hollander concludes.