Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

Africa Hydrocarbons Captures India’s Attention


Authorities in India have confessed that Africa’s rapid expansion of the hydrocarbon sector has led the Asian country to focus on the continent as a vital region for sourcing petroleum products in coming years.

India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan speaking at the 4th India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference in Delhi recently said Indian oil companies now have keen interest in Africa because of the continent’s hydrocarbon potential.

The 2-day Conference attracted government and private sector officials from some of Africa’s oil producing countries in the north and those African nations which are emerging as oil producers like Uganda, Kenya and Ghana.

“As a matter of policy, the present Indian government is keen to move towards a geographically diversified energy basket. This has resulted in India's greater focus on Africa as a vital region for sourcing petroleum products in coming years,” Pradhan stated at the opening of the conference on 21st January.

India in 2014 imported 32 Million Metric Tonnes of crude in 2014 from Africa; 3 Million Metric Tonnes from North Africa and 29 Million Metric Tonnes from West Africa, mainly from Nigeria and Angola constituting  approximately 16% of the country’s consumption.

“It is clear from our crude import figures that Africa has played an important role in India's energy security,” Pradhan asserted before calling for collaborative development and creating a brighter future for the people of India and Africa.

"There are several reasons for us to believe that Africa will be the perfect partner in the hydrocarbon space. India's scarcity of domestic energy resources can be offset by Africa's surplus energy reserves – which accounts for about 15% of current proved accessible global oil reserves.

Over the past two decades, the African hydrocarbon sector has seen rapid growth. The new discoveries in Africa have seen oil reserves grow by over 100% and gas reserves grow by over 55%. We believe that this will greatly improve Africa's position as an exporter of not only oil but also gas.

On the other hand, India has emerged as the fastest growing major economy in the world today with over 7% GDP growth. As per estimates by World Bank, IMF and others, this growth trend is expected to continue," Pradan submitted in his conference speech.

Accordingly, India's energy consumption has been constantly increasing. The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of Indian primary energy consumption in the last 15 years has been about 7.3% as compared to a global CAGR of 3%. 

To sustain economic growth, especially the manufacturing, India's energy demand is going up further. According to the International Energy Agency's (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2015, India will contribute around 25% of the growth in global energy demand and would thus be the single largest contributor to energy growth globally.

“We import nearly 78% of our crude oil & 35% of our natural gas requirements. However, while being deficient in natural hydrocarbon resources, we have built significant capacities and capabilities in products and processing of hydrocarbons.

Despite being a net importer of crude oil, India, with 23 refineries, has become a net exporter of petroleum products by investing in refineries designed for export. India has emerged as a refining hub with the fourth largest refining capacity in the world with 4.5% of world share.

Indian refineries have the highest complexity and can refine almost 180 kinds of crude. In 2014-15, India exported 63 Million Metric Tonnes of petroleum products to more than 55 countries around the world.” Pradhan emphasized. 

The 4th India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference, under the theme "Energizing the bottom of the pyramid – Together towards tomorrow", was building on successful accomplishment of the first three conferences held in 2007, 2009, and 2011 respectively.

It was organized by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India, to advance discussions on energy co-operation between African nations and India.

The India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference was conceptualized in 2007 with the objective to foster bilateral trade relations in the hydrocarbons sector, understand policy and regulatory frameworks and offer opportunities for strategic partnerships in upstream and downstream sectors of the two regions.

Experts Set To Meet At EA Leading Oil & Gas Summit In Tanzania


East Africa’s leading minds in the field of oil and gas will on March 30th & 31st 2016, meet at the 5th Annual East Africa Oil & Gas Summit 2016. The summit will be held at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to discuss how best the region can develop the nascent industry.

While the oil business is going through a torrid time, interest in East Africa’s Oil & Gas market remains higher than ever. The region has in the last decade made significant oil and gas discoveries to warranty investment returns.

Uganda and Kenya are steadily advancing in exploration of oil while Tanzania is big on gas. Rwanda and Burundi are tagging along with high their own high prospects of finding commercially viable discoveries. Uganda in particular expects to start oil production in the next five years. Kenya is moving a little bit faster.

Respective countries in the region are undertaking infrastructure development to meet the demands of the industry. Simiraly, government alongsidekey stakeholders are formulating laws, policies and regulations to govern the sensitive business.

East African has risen as a desired destination for investments directed at the extractive industry. While there is keen interest in oil and gas, mining is another option. The region is endowed with diverse minerals that yet to be extracted.

And because of the potential at hand, the 5th East Africa Oil & Gas Summit will explore the industry’s most topical issues through extensive presentations and in-depth panel discussions, examining areas such as the region’s latest licensing rounds, offshore security, transparency and accountability, operating efficiency and local content.

The two day event also comprises a first-class exhibition where the world’s leading companies meet to engage their key audience and showcase the latest in cutting-edge technology. The Summit also acts a platform offering extensive networking opportunities for the sector’s leading players to establish valuable business connections with government representatives, local and international operators, and solutions and technology providers.

In attendance will be representatives from Ministries of Energy from across the region, private sector leaders, investors, experts, service providers, academia and members of the media. Over 250 industry leaders will attend the summit organized by Oliver Kinross, a UK based media agency.

The topics to be covered by the conference will include Energy Reforms, Government Updates, International Case Studies, Investment Opportunities, Local Content, Latest Technology, Project Financing, Licensing Rounds and Oil and Gas Security.

Uganda Told To Abandon Oil Exploration Plans Inside National Parks


A consortium of over 60 environmental and tourism groups want the governments of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to stop new oil drilling licences from being awarded in Virunga National Park and the surrounding area.

Groups, including Global Witness, Greenpeace and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), are warning that a new oil licence, for which the Ugandan government is currently inviting bids, could have a devastating impact on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Next month the Ugandan government will receive bids on six new oil licences, all of which include protected areas and one of which shares a lake with Virunga National Park. Lake Edward is at the heart of Virunga’s precious ecosystem, but lies across the Congolese and Ugandan border.

“Drilling for oil in Lake Edward may have a devastating impact on both Virunga and the local people and wildlife in Uganda” said George Boden, a Senior Campaigner at Global Witness and a spokesperson for the group.

“Oil activity in one part of the lake will affect all of it – the wildlife who call the lake home aren’t aware of these national borders. There are also over 200,000 people who are dependent on Lake Edward for food. UNESCO and the governments of Uganda and Congo need to act urgently to stop oil exploration in the entire lake for good.”

The groups are also calling attention to the potential damage to Uganda’s growing tourism sector. Queen Elizabeth National Park, which also forms part of the oil block in question, is responsible for a third of all visits to Uganda’s national parks. Tourism currently accounts for 8% of Uganda’s GDP.

“Drilling in this area is bad for the environment and bad for business. It may cause irreparable damage to one of Uganda’s key tourist attractions and to Uganda’s growing tourism sector,” said Onesmus Mugyenyi, the Deputy Executive Director at ACODE (Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment) Uganda.

“Given the global downturn in oil prices Uganda should protect other growing areas of our economy. Lake Edward could be worth a lot more to both countries as an area of outstanding natural beauty,” Mugyeni added.

Bukenya-Matovu Yusuf, spokesperson for Uganda’s energy ministry, is quoted by, saying that environmentalists’ concerns were unjustified.

“How about UK drilling in the North Sea or offshore drilling all over the world … no one is talking about endangering marine life there,” he said.  “The problem is not drilling in a national park or lake but doing it in a responsible and sensitive manner and we’re experts in that,” he said. 

In 2014 British oil company Soco International carried out seismic testing for oil on the Congolese side of Lake Edward, in Virunga, prompting widespread local opposition and an international outcry.

The struggle over their oil licence was recorded in the Oscar nominated documentary Virunga, which was produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. Following the outcry Soco committed to no further involvement in its oil block in Virunga and announced in November 2015 that it no longer owns the block’s licence.

The Congolese government has not commented publicly on the future of oil block 5, which covers Virunga National Park, since Soco’s announcement.

Global Witness and other NGOs are concerned that the Congolese government may seek to re-draw the boundaries of the World Heritage Site in Virunga in order to allow for drilling in this oil block.

How Victoria University Is Driving Oil And Gas Skills Development In Uganda

For Ugandans to be able to work in the nascent oil and gas industry will need requisite skills appropriate to meet the demands of the sector.

But because the oil industry is new in Uganda, few Ugandans have been able to get the required training. Many had to fly out to access learning institutions able to offer such an education.

This is however changing because Victoria University is now offering oil and gas courses. In this interview Dr. Stephen Robert Isabalija the Vice Chancellor of the University gives the details.

Mr Isabalija, briefly tell us about you as an individual?

I’m Dr. Stephen Robert Isabalija the Vice Chancellor of Victoria University. I have been here for the last two years; previously I was in the United States at a University working as a professor.

I was also a senior lecturer at Makerere University. And I did my PhD in United States were id did studying Public Policy and I specialized in International development and sustainable future. I am a full time Ugandan

As the Vice Chancellor, tell us about Victoria University

We are motivated by experiential learning; that is what brought us to the market, our promoters are entrepreneurs and our vision is to change the way how education is done.

Every person in the market has been saying the new graduates don’t have skills; we are here to skill students, we are here to give them new ways of working. We want students to leave the university when they can go out and do different things.

Most of the people are retooling themselves and we thought we would that service by bringing the school nearer to the people.

Going by your experience and CV, what attracted you to work with Victoria University?

It’s the University’s vision; it’s the uniqueness of what Victoria University had to offer. Again am attracted to work with the promoters and entrepreneurs of the University who have a passion for education. To us changing the world and the way things are done in the country is our passion.

 Victoria University talks of state of the art facilities, what exactly are these facilities, elaborate more? 

Our classrooms are top notch with air conditioning, not that we don’t have good air in Uganda but we believe students must be in good environment and that temperature must be controlled.

But also you must be aware that we insist that every student must own a laptop which the school provides freely, that is going to expose our students to new ways of doing research.

The whole campus has internet, also our class rooms have projectors and interactive blackboards. So in a way we are exposing our students how international schools in the western world operate.

To us that is very important. Also our students stay in a clean environment which is not common in other universities.

 The January intake is on till February, why should someone come to study at Victoria University?

Again it is something we talked about, experiential learning. The things we provide, we want them to leave Victoria University when they are equipped with necessary skills ready for the job market.

We also provide them with internship. At Victoria University, internship is a must. Any student who comes to us will leave ready for a job and they always perform well or they can start their own. 

So for us we are providing courses and give the students the opportunity to leave the university not to look for jobs, they get the employed or are able to create jobs for other people.

What unique courses do you have that give you leverage over other private universities?

Of course you know that we have oil and gas courses. We also have courses like Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Bachelor of Midwifery Science, Bachelor of Nursing Science, Bachelor of Science in Public Health, Bachelor in Business Information Systems, International Relations and Diplomatic Studies, Bachelor of Environmental Science among other traditional courses.

Tell us about the Department of Petroleum and Energy Studies at Victoria University

It is one department that was formed out of the need to see what is happening in the economy because oil and gas is a new thing that everybody is talking about.

We thought we can bring this training near the people, we thought we would start the training so that when the first barrel of oil comes out of the ground we have people working in the fields.

What are some of the oil and gas and mining courses that are taught here at Victoria University?

We have Bachelor of Science in Oil & Gas Accounting, Certificate in Oil & Gas Law, Certificate in Oil & Gas Project Management, Certificate in Oil & Gas Health, Safety & Environmental Management, Certificate in Supply Chain and Logistic Management and Certificate in Oil and Gas Management under the department of petroleum and gas studies.

How many students are undertaking these courses and how does one qualify to study oil and gas courses?

We have so far trained 150 students, some we have trained and they have left. We do retooling for some people. We linked these students to employers and are now duly employed in and outside the country.

To qualify for such courses, you must have done senior six and for the bachelors you must have a bias for economics and math. We also take on people who have qualified in other fields because this is a skill they add on their daily routine of working.

What do you intend to achieve by teaching these courses?

We are out to engage the public, we are here partnering with government to provide value. When government indentified these resources then we thought we can do capacity building. So in us teaching these courses we are building capacity and also providing a service.

Uganda's oil and gas industry is nearing take off, how ready and competitive are your students?

They are very competitive, that’s what we have done, making them ready for work in the oil sector. Like I said, those we have trained are now working in the industry. Our students are ready to work once they graduate.

That is why have we have partnered with international organizations like Institute of Public and Private Partnerships (IP3), we are also trying to target other universities to support using delivering this education.

The most marketable jobs in the extractives industry are the engineering related jobs, when are you starting to offer engineering courses since there is a skills gap?

It is something we are looking at and by August next year we will be able to roll out these engineering courses. You will get the details later when we are ready.

Uganda drafted a local content policy which tries to minimize import of goods and services, what kind of relationship do you have with oil companies since they will the ones providing jobs?

We have a very wonderful relationship with oil and gas companies; that’s how we have been able to take our students to oil fields for tours and practical studies. Every student has been to oil fields.

We recently partnered with the College of Natural Science in Makerere. We signed a MoU so we will be implementing some of the training here at Victoria University.

And what have been the challenges in conducting these courses?

It’s a new a field, highly specialized, sometimes it’s very difficult to get the trainers to do the job but we have managed to assemble a good team to ensure we have produce quality students ready to work in this demanding sector. Victoria University has managed to attract the best trainers.

Where do you see Victoria University in 5 to 10 years?

We are fronting ourselves to be the best university in east and central Africa.

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