Ghana’s services industry, especially in the oil and gas sector should exploit the COVID-19 period to build its capacity, an oil and gas Human Resources (HR) Consultant, Dr Douglas Zormelo has advised.
According to Dr Zormelo, “Things are tough, I agree but I would wish that we use this time to strengthen ourselves in the area of building our capacity and taking our destinies into our hands.”
He recognised that due to COVID-19 pandemic, movements were limited, borders were closed, flights banned, but services in the oil and gas industry had to go on and those should be provided by Ghanaian firms, “but we lack the capacity.”
Dr Zormelo who is Managing Director of Zormelo and Associates observed that the local companies had formed joint ventures but the transfer of technology was not happening; the ventures are seen as local companies making some money than for building capacity so that we can take over the industry.
In the view of the veteran HR expert, the emphasis had to be on technology transfer. Dr Zormelo admitted the regulator – Petroleum Commission was trying to lead that charge, but “this time round I think it’s in the interest of everybody including the foreign companies to build the local capacity; because they can still make their money but then they will be building the ability of the Ghanaian to undertake the services.
The expert urged industry players in the support services sector not to be despondent, rather they must brave the odds.
He appealed to the trade associations in the sector to lead the cause to build capacity and transfer skills.
“We are weak to the extent that we do not have the financial wherewithal to organise training courses and others that are required by service providers; service providers on the other hand are not willing to pay their dues; they want everything to be free,” Dr Zormelo lamented.
He advised against despondency, assuring, the COVID-19 crisis will pass but the time should be used to build capacity. Dr Zormelo maintained that it was in the interest of expatriates to transfer skills to their Ghanaian counterparts
COVID-19 impact on oil and gas sector
Dr Zormelo whose preoccupation includes recruiting qualified personnel for firms in the oil and gas sector told Business Finder “we haven’t done any recruitment since January, 2020 in the oil and gas sector; that’s how bad things are.”
The COVID-19 had come at a bad time; the industry, prior to the onset of the pandemic was at a low.
COVID-19 has compelled Aker to postpone planned exploration and production activities after their calculations proved it wasn’t worth carrying on.
Petroleum Commission laments loss of jobs
According to the Petroleum Commission, over 450 Ghanaian workers in Acker Energy, Tullow, schlumberger and Alibert among others were expected to lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic. The industry had chopped a modest success in localizing various positions including critical positions in major companies.
Since the beginning of the pandemic there had been a loss of one third global demand that is more than 30 million barrels per day. The virus has brought about a level of uncertainty for all traders and resulted in a more than 300 percent drop in crude prices.