A total of 15 engineers – many of whom work in Uganda’s oil and gas industry – recently completed a one-month training in international standards of lifting equipment as the drive to beef up local capacity among Ugandans ramps up.
Nick Mugira, the founder of Inspecta Africa, the company that sponsored the entire training, said the training was part of the company’s ambition to support Uganda’s local content capacity, explaining that there are immense untapped opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
“Right now, at this development stage in our oil industry, there is a lot of construction going on. And there are not many people who can move equipment from one point to another. It requires a special skill to do that. This training is meant to bridge that skills gap,” he said on the sidelines after the conclusion of the training at Skyz hotel in the Kampala suburb of Naguru.
Ross Whittle, a lifting expert from Scotland, ran the training programme under ASCO World, taking the engineers through the rigorous North Sea Lifting (NSL) programme.
Mugira said Inspecta Africa now boasts 60 highly qualified service technicians that provide daily services to its clientele that includes TotalEnergies, Cnooc, Eacop, Schlumberger, Sinopec and ZPEB, among many others.
“We were honoured by TotalEnergies to receive their rigs in Mombasa and also oversee lifting operations and rig movement with ZPEB (its subcontractor). Currently, we are doing inspection works on the pipeline from the well-pads in the Tilenga oilfield, together with our partners Applus+ RTD-Velosi,” Mugira added.
Works are being undertaken at the Tilenga field operated by France’s TotalEnergies, and at the Kingfisher field, which is operated by China’s Cnooc. Also ground preparation works have started for the construction of the world’s longest underground heated oil pipeline, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, which will run from Hoima in Western Uganda to the Chongeleani peninsula in southern Tanzania.
A lot of the civil works on all these projects will require lifting of equipment – be it rigs, pipes, or any other machinery. And in an industry where health and safety are accorded huge importance, a few selected engineers – most of whom are foreigners – are allowed to lift this equipment.
Moving a rig professionally involves calculating the weight of the equipment, what machinery is best suited to lift it and at what distance, amongst other such computations, he further explained.
“All this must be done with precision if accidents are to be avoided. That is why we are always keen on our engineers attaining the highest level of lifting training. This is the second batch of Inspecta engineers receiving NSL certification and in January 2024, we intend to train another group,” Mugira added.
The company had 10 engineers complete this training, while two were from Eacop Tanzania Ltd, and one from TotalEnergies Uganda. Roland Broqueza, the Competent Person Lifting Operations manager at TotalEnergies, said the inspectors have a very important job to play
in the industry because they are the ones with the prerogative to approve or reject machinery or equipment based on their technical observations.
“You have the capacity to prevent accidents before they happen through your recommendations. While NSL certification is a huge achievement, you need to continue bettering yourselves because there is a lot more to learn,” Broqueza told the graduates.
It is anticipated that with new oil and gas fields emerging in places such as Tanzania, Mozambique, and the exciting one in Namibia, Ugandan engineers will be sought after.