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Au revoir! Three more Ugandans off to France for oil training

(L-R) Total's General Manager, Loic Laurandel, Owor Dominisio, Laura Kahuga, Andrew Ochan and French Charge D'Affaires Laurent Favier at the send off ceremony.

(L-R) Total’s General Manager, Loic Laurandel, Andrew Ochan, Laura Kahuga, Owor Dominisio and French Charge D’Affaires Laurent Favier, who hosted the send off ceremony.

Total E&P, in partnership with the French Government, have sent an additional three Ugandans to France to undertake different courses in oil and gas starting this August.

The training programme targets government employees so as to build the capacity of relevant government departments to handle oil and gas issues. The first batch of three trainees started their advanced studies last year.

This year, the recipients are Andrew Ochan, a Geologist from the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD), Owor Domisiano from the Ministry of Tourism and Laura Kahuga from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

While speaking at the send off ceremony in Kampala on Tuesday, Total E&P’s General Manager, Loic Laurandel, said the initiative is aimed at equipping Ugandans with skills to enhance their understanding of the oil and gas industry.

“We are dedicated to paving the way for young national talent from all backgrounds to study and apply their skills through various disciplines in the oil and gas industry,” he said.

James Lutalo, the Commissioner for Wildlife and Conservation in the Ministry of Tourism, welcomed the initiative and acknowledged the significant manpower challenges the oil and gas industry in Uganda will continue to face. “There are several sectors within the oil industry. We need engineers, geologists, managers, environmentalists. It is a young industry so we need a lot of man power,” he remarked.

As Uganda’s oil and gas industry moves into the production phase, lack of skilled locals to take up jobs in this highly technical industry will continue to be a thorny issue.

Big dreams

The France-bound trio told Oil in Uganda they had big dreams upon completing their studies.

“This is an opportunity of a life time that has been given to me,” said Laura Kahuga who will study a Masters Degree in International Energy at the ESCP Europe Business School.  She said she hopes to “understand how to run the energy sector.”

Upon completion of a Masters Degree in Petroleum Economics and Management at the French Petroleum Institute, PEPD’s Ochan hopes to return to Uganda and add to the existing expertise in the department.  “This course will help enhance my skills which will be useful to the department as a whole,” said Ochan who has worked at PEPD for ten years.

Tourism’s Owor said he was too thrilled to be a beneficiary of this training programme.  “The course will help impart knowledge on how to prevent and manage any sort of pollution if it occurs,” he noted.  He has been enrolled for a one-year Masters Programme in Sustainable Management of Pollution at the prestigious University of Lille.

Report by BO and FN