In Summary
  • There is also ERHC Energy, an American corporation, which contracted Chinese company BGP Inc to survey its northern Kenya exploration block and identify the best drilling spots. The company has set aside $40 million (Sh3.4 billion) for the venture.
  • A drilling unit has been ordered from Canada, and will be shipped to Kenya later this year. It is expected that training will start in September.

That the country lacks expertise in oil and gas extraction is not news.

Yet petroleum and oil engineers have been listed as the third top-most promising jobs in Africa, according to a report by the online business publication, AFK Insider. This is because of the newfound oil and gas in several parts of the continent, including Kenya.

To put this prevision into focus are the current happenings in the industry. UK-based Tullow Oil, the pioneer in the successful oil exploration endeavours in Kenya, announced recently that it planned to drill 40 wells in the next two years. Canadian exploration company, Taipan Resources, is expected to drill a well in Mandera by the end of September. Pancontinental Oil and Gas, based in Australia, is drilling a well on the Lamu Block.

These have bolstered confidence for other explorers to begin drilling, with FAR, another Australian gas and oil company, saying that it will drill its first well in June 2015.

There is also ERHC Energy, an American corporation, which contracted Chinese company BGP Inc to survey its northern Kenya exploration block and identify the best drilling spots. The company has set aside $40 million (Sh3.4 billion) for the venture.

Camac, a Houston-based firm, is also carrying out seismic work – a precursor to drilling – off Kenya’s coast.

These activities translate into jobs in the local market. The problem is that the local market does not have many people with the requisite expertise necessary to do these jobs that have systematically been opening up since the initial announcements were made about the discoveries in the burgeoning industry. 

Though it is not yet publicly known how many experts are working on the operational sites—there is no central database collecting such information—what is telling is that currently, most of what would be described as the more remunerative white collar jobs have been taken by expatriates from South Africa, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Kenyans who have been hired by these companies so far are generally in lower cadre positions, most of them engaged in menial duties.

“They know we don’t have fully trained seismologists, geologists, instrumentations engineers, to work on the more technical aspects. Largely, the only local people that have been hired by these companies right now are lower semiskilled and unskilled labourers,” confirms Bill Lay, the director of KK Oil and Gas.

He quickly adds: “Demand for skilled labour will surge as more firms begin to drill at Kenya’s oil exploration sites in Turkana, Narok, in the coast, offshore all the way down the Somali border, down to Mozambique…The companies involved in the exploration right now are looking for trained Kenyan employees. But they are simply not there.”

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