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From cane fields to brain fields
Ste Madeleine was once the hub of sugarcane manufacturing. However, 108 years after oil was found in T&T, Minister of Tertiary Education Fazal Karim is transforming the canefields of Ste Madeleine into the “brain fields” of the oil industry, with the opening of T&T’s first drilling school. The National Drilling Academy for T&T opened its doors last Monday at the Ste Madeleine campus of the National Energy Skills Centre (NESC).
Delivering the feature address, Karim advised that the Drilling Academy would move T&T from the “cane fields to the brain fields.” “It will further provide exciting and lucrative opportunities for young nationals. After 108 years of oil exploration and production locally, the Drilling Academy is the first of its kind for T&T,” karim said.
He added that it is the only open access drilling technical training facility in the region, with only a few drilling academies existing around the world such as the institutes in Texas USA, Aberdeen Scotland and Aeroglen Australia. Karim explained that the US oil and gas industry now employs one million workers of which the majority of growth in 2013 was concentrated in oil and gas extraction, drilling and support activities.
He further quoted from the Forbes Magazine entitled “The Most Lucrative Countries for Oil and Gas Workers,” which listed T&T at third in the world with the most lucrative compensation packages for oil and gas workers averaging US$169,000 per annum. “Australia ranked first with US$171,000 per annum and Philippines ranked second with US$170,000 per annum,” Karim said. He noted that NESC would be the agency with technical oversight of the National Drilling Academy.
“The academy will offer a rig technician programme at one and two-year levels, graduates would acquire cognitive hands on training to perform multifunctional roles which include, driller, roustabout, roughneck/floorman, derrickman, rig mechanic’s assistant, rig electrician’s assistant,” Karim said.
He added, “The academy will also offer continuous professional development customized training in a number of significant areas some of which will include, Introduction to Rig Floor Operations; Well planning; Well control; Controlled Directional Drilling, Drill Rig Components and Functionality.
T&T opens first drilling school
“It is expected that oil, gas and water well drilling companies would now have access to certified, qualified and competent drilling personnel,” Karim said. He added that the drilling academy will benefit from both local and foreign accreditation. “Locally it has been accredited by the Accreditation Council of T&T (ACTT) and internationally it has been accredited by the Royal Chartered Professional Engineering Institution,” Karim explained.
He also endorsed the idea of establishing a second drilling academy at the Petrotrin Forest Reserve facility. Karim also congratulated all partners involved in the project and highlighted the previous collaboration between the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs. Also attending the function were Marlene Coudray, Minister of Local Government, Chairman of the NESC Feeroz Khan, Chairman of Petrotrin Lindsay Gillete, President of the Energy Chamber Roger Packer and Manager of the Drilling Academy Kevin Durham.
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