Riding High, Africa Region Eyes Crucial Event

The trend of exploration success in many parts of Africa is almost unprecedented.

As recently as September, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) announced the Sankofa East discovery well offshore Ghana with an initial production test of 5,000 bopd, confirming both non-associated gas and oil potential.

Apart from Ghana, there are the success stories from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Niger on the West African side, while virtually all the countries in East Africa have reported good reserves of oil and gas.

Contrast with Nigeria, with the greatest concentration of AAPG Africa Region members, where industry investment in new deepwater exploration has fallen off in the last few years.

Afe Mayowa
Afe Mayowa

According to Afe Mayowa, president of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, “To further grow the Nigeria reserve base – and indeed, West Africa – it is our belief that governments of these regions must make conscious efforts at encouraging hydrocarbon exploration from the inland basins to ultra-deep plays.”

Government regulation and a favorable business environment for oil and gas exploration, production and transport to market are factors of concern worldwide. Businesses, whether in Nigeria, Ghana or virtually any energy producing country, share another concern. That is: Will the current and future work force be sufficient in size and skill level to contribute to global energy needs – or even sufficient to support the energy demands required for growth of the nation?

Over the course of the conference students, young professionals and industry leaders will interact during four career-focused events.

To address Nigeria’s pressing work force development needs, AAPG Africa Region and affiliate, the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), are collaborating to offer a comprehensive multi-event program for students and young professionals. The program is part of the 30th annual International Conference and Exhibition, set Nov. 11-15 at Victoria Island, Lagos.

Mayowa said the selection of the conference theme, “Nigeria Oil and Gas Exploration: The Next Frontier,” should help evolve strategies to sustain interest in active exploration of the remaining – potentially huge – petroleum resources in both the Niger Delta petroleum province and Frontier Inland Basins.

Over the course of the conference students, young professionals and industry leaders will interact during four career-focused events:

Local-Student Chapter Leadership Summit (L-SCLS).

AAPG Africa will organize the second-ever L-SCLS offered in the Regions (AAPG’s Canada Region in 2011 was the first Region to organize and run a L-SCLS, at the University of Western Ontario).

Femi Esan, who serves as Student Chapter Committee Liaison for Africa Region, attended the Global Student Chapter Leadership Summit (SCLS) during AAPG Leadership Days this year to learn the model for leading the Africa Region L-SCLS. Most importantly, presidents of 15 student chapters in Nigeria were invited to take part in the leadership summit. Corporate sponsorship will cover travel and lodging expenses for the students.

NAPE serves as the sponsor society to all AAPG student chapters in Nigeria through its University Outreach Program.

Piloted by the Student Chapters Committee (SCC) and funded by the AAPG Foundation, the annual AAPG Student Chapter Leadership Summit (SCLS) expanded over the last six years since the program’s inception. Most recently, 21 students from around the world attended the event in August prior to AAPG Leadership Days in Tulsa.

The successful leadership summit is now being expanded locally to every Region and Section, hence the name “Local-SCLS.”

The global growth of the SCLS is no accident.

“The Student Chapter Committee designed the growth of the Student Chapter Leadership Summit as a way to energize students and encourage active participation in the AAPG,” said Chevron’s Stephanie Thomas, vice chair over all SCC international operations.

Esan, who was recently elected AAPG Africa Region vice president, said the group is “trying to sync our Student Chapter programs with our Young Professionals (YP) programs as much as possible.”

And working hard to coordinate the AAPG-NAPE student and YP programs is a team of volunteers under the leadership of AAPG Distinguished Service Award winner Adedoja “Doja” Ojelabi, Chevron.

Basin Evaluation Competition.

Africa was the first AAPG Region to implement sub-regional IBA competitions. Qualifying competitions in 2012 for universities in North Africa, West Africa and South Africa enabled more schools to experience the IBA program. From the sub-regional qualifying competitions, winning IBA teams went on to represent their universities and countries in the Africa Region finals competition held in Lagos.

These qualifying competitions serve to multiply the number of students and universities that benefit from access to industry, improvement in analytical thinking and presentation skills, and awareness of how the geosciences are integrated and applied on the job.

Similarly, BEC organizers hope to instill participating graduate students with a higher level of industry preparedness.

A call went out to industry for volunteer mentors and judges. The response from local companies, IOCs and service companies was “surprisingly overwhelming,” according to AAPG Africa Region President Gilbert Odior, with Esso Exploration & Production Nigeria Ltd.

From over 40 companies that responded, three judges and five mentors per team were selected – mainly young professionals and mid-career geologists.

Mentors followed IBA rules and were permitted to instruct students on how to perform a task, provide advice on presentation content and encourage students to consider alternative ways to approach the tasks required by the program. Under no circumstances, however, were mentors allowed to actually perform the work of the team, understanding that violation of this rule would result in the immediate disqualification of the team from the IBA competition for the year.

According to Ojelabi, who also serves as IBA coordinator for the Africa Region, “our goal is to help level the playing field for schools to compete in the 2013 IBA event.”

(Likewise, for the past two years IBA coordinators for the AAPG Gulf Coast Section offer a basin analysis training course taught by ExxonMobil for students annually at the GCAGS conference.

Teams from six Nigerian universities will each give 20-minute presentations of their basin evaluation interpretations to the panel of industry judges. After the student presentations and before the judging results are announced, a Shell Nigeria geoscientist will provide a “prospect generation overview.”

The overview, from discovering the opportunity through field development, is designed to not only impart up-to-date industry knowledge about prospect generation but also to impress upon the students the significance of the work they have just presented and the career opportunity that awaits them.

YP Cocktail/Networking.

Talent hunting and awareness of company training programs top the list of objectives for the YP cocktail event.

Organizers are targeting about 100 participants and hope to gain commitment from new industry young professionals and grad students to take part in future AAPG-NAPE YP initiatives.

Masters-level students who took part in the Basin Evaluation Competition also are invited.

Starting with a Meet-n-Greet activity, the event’s program will highlight the latest AAPG-NAPE YP initiatives, ranging from educational support programs to networking.

“This event is designed to involve the industry on the wave of the YP program, such that they can also be committed to this cause,” said Tunbosun Oke, with Shell and also the AAPG YP lead.

Featured speaker, David Curtiss, AAPG executive director, will share an overview of AAPG’s global commitment to students and young professionals.

Mentoring Sessions.

The idea for mentoring sessions originated with NAPE; career advice sessions are offered each year during the NAPE annual conventions, as industry executives provide wisdom gained from their successful careers during designated times in the exhibition hall.

This year, platforms for giving mentoring advice will be shared by both NAPE and AAPG executives.

Attracting students to our organization and retaining them as young professionals during their early career years is paramount to the future of AAPG.

“Our message to students is that AAPG belongs to them as much as it belongs to professionals,” said Stephanie Thomas. “The greater the student participation, the more likely the AAPG will retain members as students transition to professionals.”

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Regions and Sections

Regions and Sections Column - Carol McGowen
Carol Cain McGowen is the development manager for AAPG's Regions and Sections. She may be contacted via email , or telephone at 1-918-560-9403.

Regions and Sections is a regular column in the EXPLORER offering news for and about AAPG's six international Regions and six U.S. Sections. News items, press releases and other information should be submitted via email or to: EXPLORER - Regions and Sections, P.O. Box 979, Tulsa, OK 74101. 

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