Apologies to regular readers for the missed newsletter at the end of April! One of the reasons for this was the annual trip to OTC where once again we had a South African stand. This year we had 10 member companies on the stand including our two largest ship/rig repair contractors who between them have served most of the major clients in the region over the past 18 months. As a consequence the stand this year had quite a maritime flavour with a huge picture of Cape Town as the backdrop with the various harbour repair facilities highlighted on it - we should have been paid by Cape Town tourism judging by the number of heads that were turned . A really cool scale model of the harbour also helped draw people onto the stand and highlighted the capabilities of the A-Berth consortium which 8 of the 10 member companies on the stand were part of. For me personally three things struck me during my week at the conference:
- Sub-Saharan Africa is hot! There is a lot of interest in our region because of all the upstream activity and recent exploration successes in various parts of the continent; as a consequence, there is quite a bit of interest in South Africa - as a base to operate into the region, as a source of partners and as a place where there may be some interesting upstream opportunities coming up.
- I was also struck by how many expatriate South Africans now hold senior positions in the global upstream industry who are well-disposed to finding ways to work in and from South Africa. This is a real opportunity for local industry to plug into the global supply chain.
- Finally, I managed to attend a few of the actual conference sessions this year and was again impressed by the extreme technical advances being made in the industry. Perhaps the most interesting was a session on Floating LNG (FLNG) technology which is now ready for deployment. To underline this I believe Shell just last week gave the final approval for their first FLNG development in Australia. This is a technology that promises to change the landscape of offshore gas developments in our region and elsewhere.
With the recent round of strategy setting, business planning and the annual audit concluded during April my attention on returning to South Africa has really focused on executing our business plan:
- We have formed a provisional steering group (called the Port Cluster Leadership Team - PCLT) to oversee the industry's efforts to develop the cluster of upstream activity around the ports. The PCLT has now met twice and has identified a transformation in the industry's relationship with the TNPA as the number one priority. SAOGA members involved in this sector will soon be invited to participate in our efforts to tackle this issue at various levels up to an including ministerial level
- We are in the midst of redeveloping the South African Oil & Gas directory to ensure it is a user-friendly marketing tool. The new site will be launched in the coming months and will become a key source of information about our sector for potential buyers in and for the region. We will put significant energy into marketing it and encouraging companies to list on it.
- In recent discussions with our partners at NOF Energy and the Africa Business Centre at the Grampian Chamber in Aberdeen we have agreed that our members can participate in their trade missions. This opens up additional opportunities for member companies that would like to explore foreign markets in the context of a well-organised mission. Further details of upcoming opportunities are available on our website and in regular email updates.
- The fruitful activity of networking companies together also continues. In the last week of May Siemens hosted a very successful SAOGA event in Gauteng for a number of members and industry participants up there. I gave a short presentation and we all had a good opportunity to meet each other and network over drinks and snacks in our host's fine executive dining room - many thanks to Siemens and our Gauteng members for pushing ahead with this! Given the number of significant companies based in Gauteng that participate in the upstream market we have committed to have a regular event (3-4 times a year) to increase the contact and connections with and between these members. I am excited about the possibilities.
In the midst of all these varied activities one thought keeps recurring to me - that much of what we are currently doing at SAOGA is about defining and creating the identity for a new South African sector. There are many South African companies participating in the upstream services industry but most are doing this largely alone (at least in terms of their linkages to other South African-based activity)and our government has very little concept of the sector. Moreover SAOGA is pretty much the only South African member organisation focused on the upstream services sector. As a consequence we have a real role to play in establishing an identity for the sector, getting it into the minds of policymakers as a distinct sector and helping to link the various companies in the sector so they grow bigger and offer more and better things. When it comes to membership of SAOGA I would like to encourage companies, in addition to the benefits that can be derived from membership, to think of it as making a contribution to the definition and realisation of a sector vision and the benefits it will have for all of us as companies and as a nation.
To end then a few of the customary plugs:
- Take a look further down this newsletter at upcoming industry events that may be useful or interesting to you. You can also look at the industry events/conferences page (/IndustryEventRecordTable ) on our website where we have been trying to filter through the many training courses and events on offer to select the most relevant for our members.
- If you would like to present a talk to industry on any topic that may be of interest to others please let us know and we will see what we can do to arrange an appropriate session or workshop.
- As always we are always interested in suggestions about speakers for events, companies interested in hosting events or any other aspect of what we are doing - please do contact us with your thoughts.