The terrifying effects of climate change across the globe has gears world leaders, policy makers, International organizations, labour unions, civil society organizations etc to persistently fast forward decisions to transit from fossil to cleaner energy. On the other hand, the campaign for urgent action towards transiting from fossil to cleaner energy has also send waves of fear to millions of workers in the oil and gas industry, hence the maiden Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSEN) 2022 Energy and Labour Summit. Christian Appolos, writes.
At the PENGASSEN energy and labour summit held in Abuja last week, which centres on the effects of energy transition on the oil and gas workforce in Nigeria; workers in the sector expressed their concern over the transition and possibility of their jobs going away.
On behalf of all oil and gas workers in Nigeria, the President of PENGASSEN, Comrade Festus Osifo, open up on the fear of workers in the sector and said; “The horrendous effects of climate change has rekindled the world’s apprehension on how to eliminate the footprint of fossil fuel and reduce its attendant effects on our environment. The call for quick action, led to several Climate Change initiatives and world conferences where several decisions were taken on how to curb this menace and bequeath a world that is safe.
“This call for action has made several Oil and Gas companies to migrate to Energy Companies in order to reflect the new realities; Total is now Total Energies, Savannah Petroleum is now Savannah Energy, Norway Statoil is now Equinor, the list goes on. All these are in preparation for the transition from being traditional oil producers to full range energy companies.
“A lot of the oil and gas exploration companies are now strategizing and moving their investments and significant capital to renewable energy-related projects. BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, TotalEnergies‘ Eni, Chevron, are leading the pack. Most of these investments have gone to the areas of researches and developments of Solar Energy, hydrogen, hydro, biomass, EV charging units, biofuels, wind energy. etc.
“Most governments all over the world have committed to greener energy. They have started developing policies and programs that will support this transition. They are currently demanding high taxes on companies that are still focused on fossil fuel development and have requested for transition policies from E&P companies operating in their respective domains.
“They have charged both automobile companies and financial institutions on the need to think forward and develop strategies that will support renewable energy development. Investment in fossil fuel is gradually drying up as most major banks that finance oil and gas exploration, development and research have all announced their reduction in fossil fuel financing and focus more on renewable and climate-friendly energy.
“Many auto manufacturing companies in the world, the likes of Volkswagen, Toyota, and Honda have rolled out their transition plans from producing cars running on internal combustion engine to vehicles powered by electricity and other forms of greener energy. Educational institutions offering petroleum engineering are metamorphosing into energy institutions. The list is endless when enumerating the effects of energy transition all over the world.
“But in all of these conversations, the attention and discussions have been majorly on investments, climate, profits and little or no focus on the workers who ensure all other factors of production are assembled.
“It is on this premise that our Association, being proactive and poised to protecting the job of its workforce, chose to organised this summit to brainstorm on how the transition can be best sailed, how it will affect the workforce that are the important assets and by extension their families and dependents and how it can birth maximum value to the nation. What will the working class in the oil and gas industry do to today to remain relevant tomorrow. What are the new skills and trainings needed, the collaboration that are required with employers and government in achieving a smooth and sustainable transition.”
Educative the oil and gas workers on why they should not be perturbed by the inevitable transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy ,the representative of GGM Crude Oil Market Department NNPC Ltd, Mrs Rose E. Eshiett, a panelist at the summit, told PENGASSEN members to rather focus on acquiring news technological, innovative and entrepreneurship skills as about 78 million jobs will be created by energy transition.
She went on say plan is to move from fossil fuel to renewable energy; cleaner energy for the safety of our world. And climate change has so far shown horrifying reasons why action in this direction should be hastened. Next Zero is the target point which literally means ensuring that the energy used is cleaner and our world safer. So Next Zero means that you have a portfolio for red to yellow.
She then added that everything from fossil fuel to electricity, gas, solar and all forms of renewable energy. What it means is creation of more opportunities. Rather than thinking of it as something that will take ways your jobs, let’s look at it as new source that will creat even better opportunities.
On what skills that will be required for the futures jobs in the world of energy transition, she stated hinted that skills in technology and innovation and entrepreneurship are going to be so important. “The reason is, if you look at all the forms of energy we have; it only fossil fuel that really requires a level of capital to run. Most of the others, you can actually run them as SMEs, meaning that you can actually run a business in production if renewable energy as SMEs.”
She father said; “You don’t really need big corporations to produce them. So it means that we will be looking at skills for sustainable energy and bio energy. Traditional engineering skills will still be there. But we have to learn new ways, research and apply the new skills differently.
“Chemical engineers will still have a lot of work to do in the way of energy production. The different is the way the skills are going to be applied. Which mean that you must develop a good critical thinking skills. You must be open to learning new skills and get rid of old skills.”
She digressed; “It is going be more like adding more skills to the foundation you already have. In the production of energy in the future, you are going to have some skills that are limited in usage today. When you talk about bio energy, that energy is going to come from plants, from farms. It means we’re going to have bigger industrial farms that will not only produce food but produce energy. So it means that agricultural skills could become a relevant skill.
“When you look at the energy mix as well, there is going to be different framework. In the entire change of energy transition, we’re going to have bigger framework; the marketing framework, legal framework and so on. And the new frame work will automatically translate to new job opportunities.”
She added; “So I’m saying that the basic education you need is the same, but the skills you’re going to develop with that education will differ. Because if you look at the commercial aspects of what we’re talking about, it will be different.
“Today when they are writing contracts they are looking at energy impact on society. In the future, how it will be clean, how would that be managed will be part of the contract. Communication is key and people are so important. Anything you cannot communicate, will not make impact on people. So even the skills on communication, awareness, the education will be the same but the way they will be applied will be different. All these will equally translate to new jobs.”
Reiterating her points, she said; “innovation is going to be so key because everything we need is given on earth already but how we’re going to use it, is what brings the skills to the table. Innovation is what creates a new area of skills that we have. So innovation thinking is going to be very, very important. So we’re going to be open to learning how to apply it in the new energy mix.
“It means that you do have jobs. The jobs are not going away. In fact, more jobs are going to be created but you have to be more adventurous in the way you seek specializations, in the way to apply your education, in the way you seek jobs. You have to be ready to go to new areas.
“You will be surprised that in a country like Nigeria that about 200 million people, there’s no energy you produce you will not be able to sell in this country.”