Training centres: Class of 2011
O&G Middle East profiles four of the region's best training providers
Middle Eastern operators have greater scope than ever before to train and enhance their employees locally than ever before thanks to a slew of developments which came on stream in 2011.
There is a case to say the need has never been greater, with nationalisation driving a significant part of every country’s economic vision, and a desire to boost local upstream skills and capabilities.
From national oil companies right through to upstream knowledge development and technology training, the region has seen a surprising level of investment in training, in spite of a tougher economic climate for many. In the following pages we profile the companies which have made a standout contribution to the training landscape in 2011.
Back in February, the newly-completed Upstream Professional Development Center (UPDC), Saudi Aramco’s state-of-the-art facility in Dhahran flung open its doors to house an updated integrated training programme for Upstream Operations employees.
All upstream training is being redesigned to combine technical depth and breadth with behavioural skills necessary for upstream professionals to excel in a dynamically changing work environment.
Big Crew Change
“UPDC is more than a facility and much more than a training programme,” said Amin Nasser, upstream senior vice president. “It is Saudi Aramco’s proactive decision to stay ahead of the times. It represents our commitment to prepare our workforce for the unique challenges that lie ahead.”
According to Abdullatif Al-Ghanim, director of Upstream Continuing Excellence: “UPDC is designed to address unprecedented professional development needs. We have aggressive targets of higher hydrocarbon discovery and recovery factors that require more complex activities and technologies to achieve. Exploration efforts are reaching into new environments, such as the Red Sea and deep gas exploration in the Arabian Gulf.
“The technologies used during routine operations will continue to evolve with new tools and advancements appearing at a rapid pace. With the advent of enormous amounts of real-time data that allow critical operational decisions to be made on the fly, engineers and geoscientists are taking multidisciplinary collaboration and joint decision processes to a new level.”
Perhaps the most immediate challenge that UPDC faces is the ‘Big Crew Change.’ Throughout the oil and gas industry, the bulk of experienced professionals are retiring from the upstream work-force and are often being replaced with inexperienced new graduates.
UPDC is working to bridge the growing upstream experience gap with aggressive training and mentoring programmes. Communication and bonding networks now link disciplines to help young professionals tap the wide array of knowledge among senior professionals before they retire.
The UPDC training programme has been developed for eight upstream job families: Geology, geophysics, petrophysics, reservoir engineering, production engineering, facilities engineering, drilling and workover, and upstream computing.
Instructional design experts work closely with industry technical experts to design and update training to enhance learning and retention. The training is hands-on with reduced lecturing.
Experiential learning is targeted by numerous practical applications that translate directly to the workplace.
Customised technology applications also are integrated into some courses, allowing participants to learn important concepts and quickly perform analyses. To ensure job relevance, experienced Saudi Aramco subject matter experts teach many of the courses.
Saudi Aramco data, work flows and tools are also incorporated into the training. To help keep the courses fresh, dynamic and flexible, feedback is welcome.
The design integrates multiple resources: senior experience, youthful innovation, history, lessons learned, new technologies, new ideas, continuous information flow and training expertise.
A formal competency assurance process is built into all UPDC courses. Beyond confirming whether trainees are achieving the required competencies, this process assesses the quality of the courses and identifies areas for improvement. A fast track to achieving competency targets is also available. The framework is in place to significantly reduce both knowledge and experience gaps in an efficient manner.
While the new facility was under construction, the UPDC training programme was launched. The Independent Contributor curricula for all eight job families were defined, courses developed and began being offered in 2010 in temporary training facilities.
When you first walk through the front doors of the Gulf Technical and Safety Training Centre (GTSC), you are immediately greeted by bright-coloured posters promoting the centre’s latest safety training courses and programmes, and there are many, so claims the Training Centre’s corporate general manager, Mario Nahas.
The centre, providing mainly Technical and Safety training for the Oil and Gas sector, has recently obtained approval from the International Association for Drilling Contractors (IADC), USA for two major certifications - Drilling Diploma and Well Testing. The facility has become the first of its kind in the world to offer such a certification.
The programme consists of classroom learning, practicals on drilling simulators and rig and field experiences developing students’ skills. The duration of this programme is 24 weeks and it is mainly aimed for fresh graduate Engineers.
As for Well Testing, it has two parts, first - to certify the already experienced personnel working in the field such as operators and supervisors, and secondly to develop personnel in order to be operators.
Other GTSC training courses and programmes IADC/IWCF accreditation in well intervention (wireline, coiled tubing and snubbing) and drilling, completion and workover. The centre also provides technical short term courses in the upstream and downstream sectors and a Competency Training Programme in HSE.
Gaps in the market
“We look for gaps in the market especially in the GCC,” says Nahas. “I am interested in the Middle East and North Africa and what needs to be developed here, and that’s why we go the extra mile by developing programmes, and obtaining accreditation so the industries will have competent personnel for any job required in the industry.
“Our contribution in developing the personnel is well rewarded by fewer accidents and we are sure that this is the aim of companies that want to have competent people in technical and safety positions in order to ensure safe operating environments. This centre is second to none for safety, it is number one in the region,” says Nahas.
“They needed the technical side to be strengthened because a technical centre needs a technical person to run it so that’s why I joined, and that’s my objective now.”
GTSC business development manager, Galal Abdulkader explains that regional expansion remains a logical goal for the company.
“Our target audience is essentially all those who work in the oil and gas industry, or related industrial sectors who are exposed to work-related risk. We have been tremendously successful to date, and so far nearly a million students have been trained in the center,” he says.
“We have always had a core operation in the UAE, but we have since branched out and opened to serve all the Middle East. Wherever there is oil and gas, you will find GTSC there, if not now, in the future!” adds Abdulkader.
With the number of accreditations, memberships and certifications covering both technical and safety, GTSC’s aim with the experience of its international staff available is to make anyone trained competent in their jobs.
There is very little ground left to cover, says GTSC’s Nahas, describing the centre’s growing list of training programmes. “There’s nothing left in the market,” he jokes.
The Proclad Academy is a commercial provider of high quality vocational programmes to companies across the GCC, Africa, and Asia, and is based in Techno Park in Jebeli Ali.
Its programmes are designed to ensure professionals can develop their career and improve their day to day performance, adding value to local business.
The academy works with international partners to develop a range of internationally accredited vocational, further and higher education training programmes and solutions, all delivered by highly qualified and experienced lecturing staff.
“The academy was initially set up as a concept in 2009, with the concept of becoming a Centre of Excellence in welding technologies and training, This rapidly grew into provision of health, safety and environmental management, and we are able to offer electrical training,” explains Proclad Academy principal Mark Cullens.
The thinking behind the Academy was born out of the company’s own experience.
“In order for companies to remain market leaders they have to invest in innovation, research and training. We were asked for support and assistance which in 2009 led to the concept of the academy taking shape; a world class education and training facility coupled with a world class manufacturing facility,” he says.
“In addition we are able to offer management and lean enterprise training, evolving into a one stop shop for industries that rely on technically competent, qualified and safety conscious engineers, technicians and operators.”
The training centre in Dubai has successfully delivered programmes across the Gulf Region. Proclad Academy has full KHDA approval from the Dubai Government operating on an Institute license.
“The Academy offers range of courses and international recognised qualifications that meet the demands of the fast changing business environment. All of the Proclad Academy courses are presented by qualified experience professionals backed-up rigorous quality procedures. Our courses are continually being developed in collaboration with our customers and there class educational institutions,” adds Cullens.
The ranges of business disciplines covered by the Proclad Academy Business School are extensive. From leadership to marketing and procurement to finance, the Proclad Academy Business School portfolio is world class.
Speciality courses include NEBOSH Health and Safety Courses, welder training school, reservoir engineering courses, Executive Mini Masters Oil and Gas, MBA Oil and Gas Management, Technical Short Courses, Up-stream Oil and Gas Short Courses, and Process Improvement Techniques.
“The Academy provides top quality professional, technical and HSE training to the Engineering and Energy Sectors.
We have recently started a programme to up-skill and train over 400 Nigerian nationals for employment in the energy sector during 2012 as part of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme. Individuals will be trained to AWS and City and Guild standards,” enthuses Cullens.
In 2011 the Proclad Academy ran programmes and events that provided professional qualifications for nearly 150 individuals in health and safety, covering NEBOSH and IOSH awards, in addition to short courses covering some 200 attendees.
Cullens concedes that budgets for training and development were significantly cut as the result of the financial crisis. However, as economies look to recover many operators have come to realise that much of the talent has moved on and a more strategic view of resource deployment is required.
“Especially in difficult economic times, it is critical for companies to become more efficient in every sector of their business and having an effective people resource is key to business success. In many sectors it’s the people that differentiate one company from another,” he says.
Cullens adds that there is also a renewed interest in quality vocational training with policy makers and governments understanding that training nationals in vocational skills generates a healthy economy and strong social fabric.
Proclad Academy manages to approach and receive many requests of training courses from UAE, GCC and Africa companies and universities “2012 represents a strong year for Proclad Academy.
We are already committed to a major programme, and are in discussions over similar opportunities in other regions.
“In addition our partnership with UK institutions has now involved UAE institutions and we have signed a partnership agreement with Sharjah Institute of Technology. 2012 should be a particularly strong year for us.
“The Academy facilities in Dubai are second to none, and by word of mouth our reputation is slowly spreading leading to interest and requests for training,” concludes Cullens.
Back in January, Saudi FAL, an industrial enterprise based in Saudi Arabia, and Emerson Process Management, the global process automation solutions business arm of Emerson, launched a new manufacturing facility in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.
The new facility is spread across an area of approximately 9,000 square metres and caters to a diverse range of industrial services.
The facility can deliver an annual production capacity of 2,500 Fisher control valves and up to 6,000 Rosemount transmitters. It can also facilitate the assembly and testing of approximately 3,600 valves and a yearly servicing capacity of approximately 12,500 valves and 6,200 transmitters.
The facility is also equipped with a process systems staging and integration area to support over 100 cabinets and perform a fully integrated factory acceptance test for over 60,000 I/O systems.
The decision to open the facility is in line with the Saudi government’s direction to encourage foreign investment and to further support local manufacturing and create jobs.
“We have been the local business partners of Emerson Process Management in Saudi Arabia for the last 25 years, providing sales services and engineering,” says Kamel Boustany, general manager of Saudi FAL.
“The growth of the local industry and demand for quality products has been on the rise in the Kingdom, which provides us with a great opportunity to expand our operations and explore future business opportunities.
This new facility will help us provide our current and future customers with quality products and solutions, coupled with great customer service.
“This facility offers a range of services and solutions and will further equip us to cater to the demand for our products in Saudi Arabia,” explains says Dave Tredinnick, president of Emerson Process Management, Middle East & Africa.
“Our commitment to this region remains unchanged, and this facility – backed by our facilities in Al Khobar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Johannesburg – will only help us provide our customers with better value. It will position us to better serve our current and prospective customers not only in the Kingdom but also across the region,” adds Tredinnick.
Mohamed M. Elawny, general manager of Emerson Process Management in Saudi Arabia, adds: “Apart from reassuring our customers about our commitment and focus toward this region, this facility enables us to further explore the markets we operate in with a highly trained workforce.
As part of our commitment to the national policy regarding Saudisation to build local capacities and encourage employment of Saudi nationals within the private sector, more than half of our current workforce already includes local talent.
Considering the demand that we have witnessed for our products, not only in the Kingdom but across the region, jointly with Saudi FAL we expect to triple our workforce in this facility in the next three to five years.”
The new facility is located close to Jubail Industrial College, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest and most sophisticated hands-on technical institutes.
Emerson Process Management this year signed an MoU with the college, under the terms of which an Emerson PlantWeb Cruiser, a process simulator, was donated as part of a four-year programme that will provide students with hands-on experience of the actual working conditions of a process plant and control room.
The PlantWeb Cruiser is valued at $165,000 and Emerson will provide training and support know-how to ensure students get the best learning opportunity possible from the hardware.
“Jubail Industrial College is committed to providing Saudi Arabia with technically trained quality manpower and we are sure that our efforts will assist in their endeavor, and also ensure maximum benefit for the students,” added Elawny.
GTSC: training In Iraq
Gulf Technical & Safety Training Centre (GTSC), one of the largest Technical & Safety Training centres in the Middle East, has opened a new facility in Erbil, North Iraq, in order to provide courses for oil and gas professionals in the region.
The centre will provide training courses in key areas including Safety, Fire Fighting and First Aid, as well as Risk Management and Environmental Awareness, in addition to short term and long-term Techical Training.
The short-term Technical courses include Geology, Reservoir Engineering, Well Intervention, Drilling. The long-term programmes will involve competency based training programs ranging across operations, maintenance, mechanical and electrical activities.
GTSC also has state-of-art simulators technology, with many courses, such as Drilling, Wireline, Coiled Tubing and Production testing, being offered in the centre.
GTSC has become the first Training Centre in the world to offer Drilling Diploma and Well Testing and Design Analysis, accredited by IADC, USA.