Our efforts to establish common global standards for the global oil & gas industry passed a major milestone last month, when OPITO signed a landmark memorandum of understanding with the Iraq Ministry for Oil, Training and Development Directorate.
It is designed to help the war-torn country develop the skills and training necessary to enable exploitation of its hydrocarbon resources.
With Iraq gearing up to produce 12million barrels of oil per day, the agreement will ensure that the people of Iraq can obtain the skills, knowledge and qualifications needed to access jobs in the country’s oil & gas industry for now, and in the long-term future.
Under the terms of the document signed in Amman, we will work with the ministry to understand the skills needed, and provide specialist support, to help Iraq build world-class learning infrastructure that delivers OPITO standards and globally recognised qualifications.
This milestone has significant implications that go far beyond the geographic borders of Iraq, however.
High-profile events that garnered headlines around the world throughout 2010, are an ongoing reminder that the oil & gas industry operates in some of the most challenging and hazardous environments. Safety is paramount and the industry has a fundamental duty to make sure that its people are competent and trained to the best possible standards.
The agreement with Iraq marks another step forward in our overall aim of establishing one common set of industry standards for safety and competency in oil & gas around the world, the obvious benefits of which will apply to the global industry as a whole.
Individual companies have made huge efforts to improve safety, and there is no doubting the commitment by many independent and multinational players.
But the fact that each country has its own laws regulating offshore safety is a major issue for companies that work internationally.
Far from being a problem confined to the emerging markets, even highly developed countries with a strong and sustained history in oil & gas can fall short when it comes to operating to what other countries consider basic safety and training standards.
It is the fundamental right of every offshore worker to have the confidence that the guy sitting next to him in the helicopter, or working on the drill floor, has been trained to the same high standards. That way no one’s safety would be compromised.
Imagine the real step-change we would see if every offshore worker was trained to the same standard. Adopting common standards and engaging the essential support to apply them uniformly across the industry is a significant challenge. But it is one on which we should not be looking to compromise in any shape or form.
OPITO remains fully committed to the roll out of common global standards. You simply cannot argue against the model where an industry-owned, not-for-profit standards body helps employers build a safer and better skilled workforce.
However, despite many successes in more than 30 countries, there is much to be done. We cannot finish this job without more industry support and greater buy into this global approach.
David Doig is CEO of the OPITO Group