“Nigerian rates have typically been on the high side for the region but are falling now due to the influx of candidates from the Middle East”
One thing remains certain in Africa, uncertainty. As far as emerging regions go, there is tremendous potential scope in Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, Angola and elsewhere, but most places continue to experience a track record of poor infrastructure, corruption in the ranks, civil unrest and violence. Basic day-to-day challenges such as quality of life, living costs, personal security are major barriers to mobilising personnel here, and the poor rates, almost on par with the North Sea, are not helping attract better paid personnel. Even for those thrill-seekers up for the experience of a stint in Africa, localisation policies restrict transfer across much of the region.
In what should be a seamless process, many EPCs are reporting to be experiencing difficulty getting paid out of their Angolan clients. Corruption and opacity is seemingly pervasive, according to a recent World Bank report, nearly 76% of firms (the second-most in the world) operating in Angola identify corruption as a major constraint to doing business there.
In spite of these challenges, discovery announcements keep pouring out of Angola as rapidly as the oil itself, so there appears to be no shortage of work ahead for the country. Exploration in Angola’s pre-salt reserves continues apace, competing with Brazil for the highly specialised experience in this emergent field. Other discoveries and major fields are coming into production, notably Total’s deepwater Pazflor field. ExxonMobil and state-owned Sonangol were recognised for their industry leadership at this year’s Offshore Technology Conference. Their “Design One, Build Multiple” approach has yielded both operational efficiencies as well as provided solid opportunities for local Angolan employment. FEED, Subsea and Safety work remains in high demand into 2011.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recently ranked rock-bottom by two corporate transparency watchdog groups. Yet Nigeria is making small steps to ground its energy sector and improve administrative transparency. A recently announced plan to construct extensive gas, fertilizer and petrochemical plants and infrastructure promises to create up to 500,000 jobs for Nigerians, as well as bolstering and diversifying domestic energy production and supply. Nigeria is known to have the largest natural gas reserves in Africa, though it lacks adequate infrastructure to capitalise on them; with its “Master Gas Plan”, Nigeria aims to position itself among the world’s top natural gas producing countries.
Oil majors continue to observe Nigerian prospects from the sidelines until the impact the infamous Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will have on revenue and taxation arrangements are known. Recent elections and a new senate threatened to pull the debate over the Bill back to square one, causing additional delay, but exceptions were made to allow the legislation to continue along its current course.
Following a relatively quiet quarter one leading into the elections, activity has since picked up dramatically. Besides pressure for local content, the challenge faced by most corporations is convincing qualified expat personnel to accept contracts in Nigeria. Once passed, the PIB will usher a major influx of work in the region, increasing demand across the board. Subsea, Safety and Environmental expertise remains in high demand, and expect the budding local natural gas industry to be a further tap on qualified LNG personnel in already short supply worldwide.
Your Expectations as a Region