How did you come to be in the oil and gas industry?
I attended a job fair in Paris, shortly after obtaining a degree in Microelectronics at Polytechnique Montréal, intent on finding a job in my field. At some point, I walked past a very blue booth and someone called after me — a former engineering classmate was on-site recruiting for Schlumberger. He asked me to come hear about the company and, while I had planned to humor him and be on my way, the opportunities and the industry were exciting.
My decision was made before they even offered me a job.
With the launch of the INPG right around the corner, we imagine you’re a very busy man. What have the biggest challenges been in getting the project off the ground?
The Oil & Gas sector has its specificities. Starting from scratch in an industry that is relatively new to our country means that, beyond processes, we must build a proper Oil & Gas culture.
There is much to do (everything really), so benchmarking and setting priorities (i.e. programs, meetings, partnerships, etc.) are great undertakings.
What are your hopes for the future of the INPG? Where do you see the biggest opportunities for development?
The INPG we are building is set to be a world-class Oil & Gas training provider. Future generations of engineers, technicians, operators and workers in adjacent fields will be exposed to cutting-edge technology and internationally-recognized courses right here on the African continent.
When an industry is in its nascent stages, there are development opportunities at every stage. Ultimately, I envision the INPG as a veritable hub for the MSGBC basin — a regional entry point for companies and potential partners.
What do you see as the essential next steps so as to increase in-country capacity in Senegal?
The INPG’s priority is to train and specialize resources that are tailored to the industry’s needs in order to ensure their employability. What this requires is an understanding of the national and regional context (i.e. asking the right questions — what is the current industrial demand? What are the national workforce’s weaknesses?)
Assessing and crediting existing structures is also imperative. In the case of the INPG, a key step has been partnering with local engineering and vocational training providers, as we have the common goal of leading students towards their full potential. For instance, we know that inserting practical experience earlier on in academic careers is crucial, if future graduate are to be prepared for any career orientation, and specifically the Oil & Gas sector.
The industry also needs to understand and believe in the added value of local content in Senegal, in order to support and commit to its development.
As a speaker at the MSGBC Local Content Forum, what do you hope to take away from the meeting? What do you expect will be the main focus of the discussion?
I hope people grasp the magnitude of the operations currently underway in Senegal, in order to secure options and opportunities at the local level. While many wish to be involved in the early stages, it is important that experts be the ones to lead the way. I believe the main focus will be on future activities — the early stages are always subject to scrutiny and Senegal’s Oil & Gas developments have been buzzed about in recent years.
Finally, looking towards the future, how do you see the industry in the MSGBC Basin evolving over the next few years?
Bright. As the industry takes off and expands, there is a greater need and interest in exploration than ever before. This sets a new standard for investments and pushes international cooperation on multiple fronts — research, innovation, and development. Following the crisis the industry experienced, operations are on the rise and we are finding a new balance.
About Aguibou Ba
Aguibou Ba is the Executive Director of the Institut National du Pétrole et du Gaz (INPG), Senegal’s national oil and gas institute, which was created in 2017. He is tasked with developing the #1 Oil & Gas training provider in Senegal and sub-saharan Africa. Mr. Ba returns to Senegal with 18 years of international experience in engineering, training and management in the Oil & Gas industry, having had a formative career at Schlumberger — the world’s leading technology provider for reservoir characterization, drilling, production, and processing to the oil and gas industry. Mr. Ba worked in the North Sea (Aberdeen, Norway, Denmark) as a Drilling & Measurements (D&M) expert before integrating one of Schlumberger’s training centers in Houston, Texas. He then rose through the ranks — holding various positions in training centers, including his most recent post as Global Training Centers Manager for Schlumberger D&M, based in Abu Dhabi, overseeing all four centers for the group. Mr. Ba holds a technical degree in Electrical Engineering from the Ecole Superieure Polytechnique (ESP) in Dakar, Senegal, as well as a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and a master’s degree in Microelectronics from Polytechnique Montréal.
Aguibou Ba will be joining the panel titled ‘Education & Training: Investing in the Future Local Workforce' at the upcoming MSGBC Basin Local Content Forum in Dakar, 24 October 2018.