With the recent announcement of the biggest discovery of oil in Namibia’s history – an estimated 4 billion barrels – comes great economic opportunity. Namibia has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and this oil discovery is estimated to bring in $5 billion in revenue by 2028 and double the country’s GDP by 2040. Although Namibia has approximately a decade to build the necessary infrastructure to start earning maximum benefits from the newly discovered oil and gas resources, in Africa, there is a tendency for the benefits from oil and gas discoveries to take an extraordinarily long time to materialise. There is also a massive infrastructure challenge in addition to skills shortages, which is likely to jeopardise Namibia’s resource beneficiation unless external assistance is sought.
Exciting potential offshore
Namibia’s discovery is located deep offshore, approximately 290 kilometres off the coast. With wells drilled to a total depth of 6,296 metres, a high-quality, light oil-bearing sandstone reservoir with 84 metres of net oil pay was discovered, the results of which exceeded pre-drill expectations. Such a discovery means that the deep-water Orange Basin has become one of the world’s most foremost exciting areas for hydrocarbon exploration. US and French firms are in the process of drilling their second and third wells, and by the end of the year they will have completed appraisals and reached estimated figures, after which companies could start production in as little as four years.
On African time
These discoveries could make Namibia the largest oil producer along the African Atlantic coast. However, in Africa, progress is slow to materialise. Take Uganda for example, where oil and gas was discovered in 2006 but the first barrel will only go to market in 2025. One of the most effective ways for Namibia to avoid repeating the Ugandan example is to bring in specialist partners to assist with bringing together all the elements necessary for oil and gas exploitation.
Bringing skills and resources
A partner such as a Temporary Employment Services (TES) provider can assist with the human resources and specialist skills required for construction, engineering, mining, and production. In this way, Namibia’s oil and gas industry can access critical specialised skills in the short term, as well as create skills transfer programmes to ensure the availability of skills for the long term. From a labour and human resources perspective, a reputable TES partner will recruit, train, on-board and manage the workforce needed to build and maintain the infrastructure required for drilling, and mining, which will drastically speed up the beneficiation process. The specialist skills required will be brought in by the TES provider from all over the world if necessary, handling all aspects of foreign employment, including work permits and travel visas.
From a labour perspective, the TES partner assumes responsibility for all aspects of managing the workforce – from health and safety compliance, to payroll, industrial relations management – ensuring that compliance reporting, training and skills transfer programmes are handled. There are strict Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place to govern the relationship between the TES provider and the industry players, to ensure that oil and gas firms have access to the labour required. This will also eliminate the burden that comes with employing a labour force permanently, while still facilitating the creation of much needed job and skills transfer opportunities within the country. By allowing a TES provider to handle all the human resource aspects of every stage of the project, the firms involved can regain up to 60% of their time and attention, to properly focus on their core business activities.
Benefits for all
Government and the private sector alike will further benefit from partnering with a TES provider through access to their deep industry experience and expertise. The TES provider will already have extensive experience with setting up, running, and maintaining the necessary infrastructure. Furthermore, a TES provider will be able to handle all the processes necessary for community engagement and enterprise supplier development. This will ensure that the utilisation of Namibia’s natural resources also benefits its people directly without unnecessary, costly delays.
Jimmy Samuels is Africa Executive at Workforce Staffing Africa, and Barend Matthee, National Projects Director at Workforce Holdings