Like most of us in South Africa I have had a tremendous past month watching the excitement around the Soccer World Cup and really finding an excitement about the possibilities for this nation and our collective future that I haven’t really experienced since Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the anticipation-filled years which followed. It truly was an outstanding event and we did ourselves proud with the way it was pulled off. One article in Engineering News particularly caught my eye with respect to the capability of our engineering sector. The article reported on a presentation in which Hylton Macdonald of Aveng compared the technical and competitive achievements of our own Soccer City stadium with Beijing’s iconic Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium:
“Firstly, Macdonald showed, Soccer City is bigger. It has a capacity of 90 000 seats (originally 94 700, but decreased to accommodate disabled fans). The Bird's Nest, by comparison, can accommodate 80 000 - although 11 000 temporary seats installed for the 2008 Summer Olympics increased the capacity to 91 000 seats.
Johannesburg's fiery calabash took three years to build, while the iconic National Stadium in Beijing took five years. In fact, the contract was awarded to the Grinaker-LTA-linked consortium on January 17, 2007. By February 1, work began on site and by April 2009, the roof structure was completed, while the main stadium was completed in April 2010, well ahead of the June 11 kick off.
The construction of Soccer City involved 80 000 m3 of concrete and 110 000 t of rebar and steel, while the Bird's Nest involved 110 000 t of steel and a total floor area of 258 000 m2.
Arguably one of the most interestingly comparators, though, is the fact the Chinese construction industry completed the Beijing stadium at a cost of $423-million in 2008 terms.
Soccer City was built for $445-million in 2010 terms - although it should be noted that the Bird's Nest design included a retractable roof.”
Personally I think Soccer City also looked better – especially on finals night! Pretty impressive stuff and it really highlights how much our industry potentially has to offer to the global upstream sector. We can and should be aggressively targeting the enormous upstream opportunities to the west, north and east of us as well as unlocking our own domestic hydrocarbon resources. We can do more and we can do it with the confidence that South African capability is second to none when we get ourselves focused on the task.
Of course, besides having the vision to dream we also have to shoulder the hard work of finding the opportunities and readying ourselves to tackle them. In my next newsletter I’m going to share some thoughts about the specific opportunities and catalysts for growing the oil and gas business opportunities in South Africa; right now I want to touch on a few specific initiatives that are focused on getting the industry ready for more business.
We are currently finalizing a cooperation agreement with PetroSA which provides a platform for the alliance to work together with PetroSA to develop and grow the local upstream industry. As the National Oil Company PetroSA has an important position in the industry as a source of significant local upstream opportunities and its ability to use these to drive local expertise. PetroSA’s upstream head, Everton September, who also happens to be SAOGA’s chairman will speak at our next breakfast on the topic of how the National Oil Company will play its role. I’m also hoping we will be ready to sign the MoC at the breakfast and will have MEC Alan Winde there to witness it – it should be an event with a bit more fanfare than usual so I urge you to sign up for it.
A number of members recently attended a workshop to launch our involvement in the UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Org) SPX programme. This is essentially an industry exchange for matching buyers and sellers and has a focus on increasing local procurement in the targeted sectors of which upstream oil and gas is now one. We like the programme because it has strong backing from government and commitment from major buyers in the form of the State-owned enterprises. It also offers a forum for identifying content localization opportunities. For our members it offers the opportunity to be exposed to buyers as well as a structured approach to profiling, benchmarking and developing individual companies.
We are about to make ourselves widely felt in our member base through a substantial industry profiling exercise. We will shortly (starting later this week for some companies) be distributing a member questionnaire to help us better understand what our members are doing. This will be followed up by company visits all aimed at helping us to get a better understanding of the types and capabilities of companies out there. This is important because it helps us to: link companies together either to partner or trade with each other, match suppliers to buyers local and foreign and identify issues and needs in the industry for which we can mobilize public resources. For those companies participating in the UNIDO programme (mostly manufacturing focused firms in the initial stage) we will complete the UNIDO profiling in parallel with our regular membership data gathering. It is an absolutely foundational exercise for SAOGA that hasn’t been done for some time (or ever?) and I trust that you will help us by responding to data requests promptly and making some time available to meet with us – I know I am looking forward to meeting the many members I have not yet encountered.
Our Skills Development Programme continues to play a key role in building up the industry skills base. Many companies will have spoken to Adrian Strydom around our efforts to make workplace training central to our artisan skills development efforts. Adrian is also busy with some unheralded and hard but really important work with the various qualifications bodies to work towards harmonizing local trade qualifications with global upstream requirements. Finally, we are close to offering the next round of Upskilling courses where SAOGA makes available much of the best training available in the industry at very competitive rates. I urge you to take advantage of these opportunities as they have proved popular and valuable in the past – keep an eye out for the announcement.
If you’ve been paying attention as you’ve read you will have noticed that there are plenty of synergies and dependencies between the activities above. I fully expect that our work with PetroSA will encompass the UNIDO programme and our Skills Development activities, that the UNIDO programme will touch all the other activities through company development activities and so on. What I have outlined is the basic shape of the industry capability development agenda we are developing at SAOGA. As I said, next time I will focus on the business opportunity development agenda which is the other part of the proverbial “chicken and egg” cycle of industry growth. As always I welcome comments and suggestions (and should mention that rather disappointingly I rarely get them).
To end I’d like to make an appeal to companies who could be interested in exhibiting at OTC11 in Houston next year. If you are interested in exhibiting please contact us urgently as the deadline for booking space is fast approaching.