20 February 2013 20:27 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Africa and the Middle East were popular topics on Wednesday, the final day of International Petroleum (IP) Week, since significant opportunities appear to outweigh the unique challenges presented by each region.
Speakers throughout the day were upbeat about the prospects for investment in the Middle East, even though disruptions and uncertainty remain as a result of the Arab Spring.
Attendance at the final panel session, which focused on east Africa, surprised moderator John Martin – managing director of oil and gas at Standard Chartered – since it drew nearly a full crowd despite being at the end of the last day.
Chatham House research director and head of Africa Program Alex Vines said east Africa is being explored for oil at a rapid rate, and strong oversight is needed.
The panelists said that while these nations are open for business, expectations may be too high, and there is a crisis of education where local qualifications do not meet international standards.
Natznet Tesfy, head of Africa Team at Exclusive Analysis, spoke about the disconnect between the improvements in livelihood that locals in east Africa expect to see and the realistic outcomes.
Tesfy said if local youths are disappointed with the opportunities brought about by oil exploration and production, these grievances could be aimed at the oil companies.
Chris Flavell, general manager of exploration at Tullow Oil, said finding local employees with the suitable skills to work for Tullow has been a challenge, but the company has a training programme in the UK to address the issue.
Panelists and speakers agreed that private companies operating in these regions need to increase their social responsibility.
($1 = €0.75)
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