INPG set to shape and train West Africa’s oil and gas workforce at international standards

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Aguibou Ba, director of theNational Senegalese Petroleum Institute (INPG; Institut National du Pétrole et du Gaz), gives a full overview of the institute’s genesis, as well as its mission to shape Senegal’s oil and gas sector human resources. INPG is a key initiative of the government’s hydrocarbon industry plan.
INPG’s first cohort – Masters in Petroleum Engineering – was launched on October 22 in the new city of Diamniadio. The first 22 students were selected out of a total of 2,200 applicants. INPG is regulated – the same way as all other schools in the country – by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. The school is also under technical supervision by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.

What key decisive factors led to the creation of INPG?

Following the major discoveries of oil and gas reserves in 2014 and 2016, it appeared essential to the government and the sector to have a strong specialized workforce to support growth of the national petroleum industry. Our current engineering schools and technical institutes provide a high level of training and shape well-rounded professionals, which hold a wide span of skills, but specific competencies are necessary to work in the oil and gas industry – INPG is tasked with providing them. Furthermore, our aim is to shape a pool of talent capable of tackling all challenges related, including support sectors such as finance, insurance and legal services.

Which major achievements allowed the launch of the institute?

Our benchmarking trip to Paris and hiring IFP Training to facilitate training for our Petroleum engineering master’s degree – launched in October 2018. Under the agreement, IFP Training teachers have been placed here in Dakar and they will be supporting the students throughout the program, whether in class or during their field work. Furthermore, IFP Training will ensure a knowledge transfer to our growing teaching staff.
We currently employ a Senegalese instructor, a petroleum engineer in his own right, with previous teaching experience who is simultaneously following adequate training in order to receive a certification.
Our visits to a number of institutions in the United Kingdom such as Robert Gordon University, Heriot Watt University and Forth Valley College , allowed to us to optimize our vocational training programs.
Aside from our trips, we have received strong support from oil and gas private companies. BP started its relationship with INPG by conducting a needs study in the country. They met with local operators, universities and various key stakeholders in order to understand what exactly Senegal’s strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to human resources. From that, we were able to identify the key skills we needed to implement in priority, such as engineers specific to petroleum; specialized technicians who will be operating on offshore platforms; technical English; and health and safety best practices.
These elements combined established the first programs of the INPG curriculum. We do, however, have the ambition of being very reactive. We will adapt to the needs of the market and respond to issues raised by the sector.

Which curriculums do you intend to launch in the short-term?

Two major programs will be implemented very soon. The first one is vocational training. We started by meeting several ministries to evaluate the need for vocational training in the public sector. Some, such as the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, had general requests for training. Others, such as the Ministry of Finance, have particular needs regarding petroleum-specific finance activities. We will be launching sessions in early 2019. We are currently in discussion with the private sector which is effectively in need of similar services. The second key element we will launch are the training programs for technicians and operators, which will take place mid-2019.

What level of synergies do you have with other schools in Senegal and internationally?

We have signed agreements with several local education institutions such Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique de Dakar; Institut des Sciences et de la Terre and others. Our goal is to show the synergies between INPG and all the others schools in Senegal. Most students of the first promotion hold master’s degrees from one of the five top engineering schools in the country. Our agreements also include modules where INPG teachers will run punctual workshops in those schools to teach oil and gas industry specifics. They also include exchange of teachers, equipment and resources.
Additionally, we have started signing partnerships with international institutions, namely in Alberta, Canada. The aim is to receive technical support for our curriculum, including vocational training and capacity building. We have signed an agreement with The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, in order to support skill improvement in our local legal institutions.
For now, these frameworks don’t include student exchanges but this will be studied in the near future as INPG grows.

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