With first productions in 2022 and 2023 associated with ambitious local content goals, Gaspard Mendy, CEO of Gorée Offshore spoke to African Energy Series: Senegal 2020 about how Senegalese companies are taking action to ensure high involvement of the indigenous service sector in future oil and gas operations.
What are Gorée Offshore’s activities specifically in the energy industry? What’s the strategic outlook for the company in the next five years?
Gorée Offshore Engineering is a multi-disciplinary engineering services company serving oil and gas clients operating in the MSGBC basin. Formed in May 2019, we are head-quartered in Dakar with a satellite office in London. We are also in the process of forming a local entity in The Gambia. Our three main service lines are design, integrity and maintenance. These cover greenfield engineering design, brownfield modifications, asset integrity management and offshore hook-ups. Engineering and project management is at the heart of what we do, and our strength lies in the technical capability of our team.
Even though I’m the MD, I still have technical project responsibilities within the company. An offshore structural engineer by discipline, I have close to 15 years’ experience in the UK, working for several major engineering, procurement and construction fabricators and operators. At Gorée, we perform the engineering calculations and drawings in-house without having to rely on international consultancies. So far, the team consists of 8 engineers and project managers with extensive regional and international experience. We can also mobilize a team of offshore-certified ops/maintenance technicians at short notice.
We are proud to announce that we have recently formed a partnership with an Aberdeen-based 3D cloud scanning company which will enable us to offer our clients a complete package of inspection, 3D scanning, design, build and offshore installation/hook-up.
In the next five years, our strategic aim is to be established as the most trusted, technically capable local engineering services company serving clients operating in the MSGBC Basin. To achieve this, we will continue to talk to prospective clients to assess their needs, maintain and recruit first-class personnel and reinforce our quality and safety management systems. We will work hard to get onto various client preferred bidder lists with a view to supporting drilling campaigns, offshore hook-up activities (in 2022) and providing continuous asset integrity management and maintenance services to operators post-2022.
How important is local content in developing a petroleum-based economy and what is Gorée Offshore’s role in the local content strategy?
Local content is key. In order for the local oil and gas industry to be sustainable, competitive and resilient in the face of inevitable market downturns, international operators have to rely on a robust and capable local supplier base. Having to rely on an international supply chain for example, is expensive and cumbersome and will no doubt squeeze operating margins. The advantages for the home country are obvious – in terms of increasing the skills-base of the labor market and providing very good salaries. It is important that local content is nurtured and strengthened by all stakeholders concerned.
We hail the recent formation of the INPG in Dakar. We are passionate about maintaining a strong partnership with the Institute by providing continuous feedback from an employer’s perspective and hiring their brightest and best. It is important that courses have a strong industry-focus and that the right theoretical vs. practical balance is struck. For example, operations and maintenance technicians are needed just as much as degree holders.
While we will always prioritize hiring capable local and regional staff, there will inevitably be occasions where the only way to plug a specialist skills gap or mentor junior staff will be to draft in an international expat. Having strong UK ties and a satellite office in London ensures that we can do that. The proximity of Dakar to Europe and the similar time zones mean that personnel can mobilize at short notice and with ease.
What opportunities exist across the MSGBC basin? Do you wish to establish activities in other countries such as Mauritania or Guinea-Conakry?
The MSGBC basin has thus far yielded such a significant amount of hydrocarbon reserves that it is easy to forget that the basin is still grossly under-explored. A hive of exploration activity is envisaged in the next 2-3 years, which would most likely lead to further mammoth finds which could firmly establish the region as one of the world’s most important energy corridors over the coming decades. The world-class BP-Kosmos Greater Tortue and Orca-1 discoveries in Senegal and Mauritania are particularly attractive at a time when oil majors are moving away from mega crude oil projects and investing heavily in LNG, which is much cleaner than crude.
In terms of oil and gas discoveries, Senegal and Mauritania are the leaders in the MSGBC basin, therefore we will focus most of our energy in these two countries. That said, we plan to open up a satellite office in The Gambia to support future exploration drilling campaigns there. Many industry experts expect that hydrocarbon resources will be discovered offshore The Gambia.