28 June 2013

Training landmark in equatorial Africa

Gabon Shell Oil Terminal

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has just completed its first ever training programme in Central Africa at Shell’s Gamba site in Gabon.

The landmark training was delivered to the engineering team working at Shell’s oil terminal located just south of the equator in the Gamba region – one of four sites operated by Shell in Gabon, which produce over 60,000 barrels of oil each day.

The region is very challenging with climate, transport, health, wildlife, environmental issues and its remoteness all major factors affecting oil production. Diversity of language and culture also adds to the complexity of operations and it was in this area that IChemE was able to contribute its expertise.

Dr Jamie CleaverAround 30 engineers attended IChemE’s Communication and Presentation Skills for Engineers course, which was led by Jamie Cleaver. He said: “The communication challenges they face are complex due to the variety of cultures and mother tongues.

“Added to this are operational difficulties that come from the environment. For instance, during the rainy season it is difficult to have a telephone conversation because of the incredible noise level of the rain falling on the roof.”

In addition to French speaking Gabonese personnel, Shell Gabon employs an international mix of staff including people from Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, Asia and other African countries. The wide age range and different levels of experience, from senior engineers to student interns, adds to the challenge of effective communication.

“Training communication skills always has heightened significance and value when working in-situ with established teams. I was able to tune the Communication and Presentation Skills for Engineers course to address specific needs of their department. This gives benefit to departmental operations, as well as to individual team members”, said Jamie.

Shell Gabon has been operating in Gabon for over 50 years. The company operates the Gamba/Ivinga, Rabi/Kounga, Toucan and Koula oil fields.

Gabon is Sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth largest oil producer and holds the third largest oil reserves in the region. Gabon’s oil accounts for around 80 per cent of the country’s export revenues and over 40 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).