Azerbaijan International

Summer 2002 (10.2)
Pages 84-87

BP Current Developments
Creating Job Opportunities for the Local Workforce

by Tamam Bayatly

Above: The Shah Deniz signing ceremony in Tbilisi. From left to right: Natig Aliyev, President of SOCAR, Giorgi Chanturia, President of CIOC (Caspian International Oil Company), David Woodward, President of BP in Azerbaijan, and Mehmet Ali Kaya of TPAO.

The Phase 1 project, which targets development of the central part of the Azeri field in the BP-operated Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli contract, is expanding construction activities in Azerbaijan. The project involves a growing number of Azerbaijan's skilled workforce, including more than 3,000 local construction jobs at the peak of activity. Three-quarters of the in-country construction manpower will be Azerbaijani citizens. In terms of man-hours, more than 80 percent of the entire project will be local labor.

Sangachal Terminal

Left: Upgrade and construction works in full swing at the ShelfProjectStroy (SPS) yard.

At the peak of construction, the Sangachal Terminal expansion project is expected to involve more than 1,000 Azerbaijani citizens working with the construction contractors. Many of the Terminal construction workers will come directly from the area around the Terminal, including Sahil, Sangachal village, other Garadagh villages and possibly the refugee camp Umid (Hope) in the Garadagh district. The current construction contractor for the Terminal expansion is the Tekfen/Azfen Consortium, a company with a major local partner. The contractor has committed itself to the use of these local resources.

To make the local community aware of these employment opportunities, the contractors with AIOC have set up small information/employment offices at Sahil, the Sangachal village and the Umid camp. These centers, which are managed by Tekfen/Azfen, have already registered more than 5,000 candidate workers. Interviews started in April. In addition to the 75 workers who were employed through the database of these information offices, more than 75 were interviewed and 35 were selected.

SPS Construction Site
The project's major construction contractors, McDermott, Saipem and Bouygues, are implementing a substantial part of their activities under Phase 1 at SOCAR's ShelfProjectStroy (SPS) construction site. These contractors are working closely with SPS and have involved a large number of local workers.

Right: BP has initiated a plan to protect the Spur-Thighed Tortoise, a species impacted by construction activities in the Sangachal expansion area.

To date, Saipem has involved more than 180 local workers in transport and installation activities, accounting for more than 70 percent of the total workforce. Bouygues has recruited more than 300 local workers for jacket, piles and drilling template fabrication activities. In addition, SPS has provided McDermott with a list of 600 names from the SPS labor pool.

More than 500 local workers have already been involved in the removal of old equipment, equipment repair/maintenance, marine crewing of the pipe lay barge Israfil Huseynov and SPS quayside repair works. The ultimate target is to use 700-800 people in the works related to the fabrication of the Phase 1 Drilling and Quarters platform topsides and offshore pipelines.

Training Programs
To make sure that there are enough local workers to execute these world-scale projects, the Phase 1 contractors, along with AIOC, have developed extensive training programs for the workforce. These programs are structured to cover all of the relevant skills required to complete the job to the highest international standards. A key part of company policy is that extensive training in HSE (Health, Safety and the Environment) and ethics be provided for all workers.
Much of the training is provided locally, though, as a key part of the ACG Phase 1 topsides contract, around 200 Azerbaijani nationals are receiving extensive practical training in fabrication techniques in Dubai.

Phase 1 Pre-Drilling
The Phase 1 drilling program will be conducted in three stages: pre-drilling, platform wells and sidetracks. The first stage of drilling has already begun, with the Dada Gorgud rig currently being used to drill the first of the nine pre-drill wells.

The first well, with a programmed total depth of 2,569m in 127m of water, will approximately three months to drill. Then, the drilling rig will be moved off location to allow a subsea template to be installed over the wellhead. The eight remaining pre-drill wells will be drilled through this template. Of the nine wells, eight will be production wells and one will be a cuttings re-injection well. The Phase 1 Pre-drill program will be completed in 2003.

Western Qualifications
Two of BP's local employees, Rafael Suleymanov and Elnur Amikishiyev, have recently qualified for the UK's Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). They are the first Azerbaijani citizens to ever receive these Western-standard commercial business manager certificates. The skills they have acquired through CIMA will enable them to have multidisciplinary careers not only in the finance department but also in commerce, consultancy, government, the public sector, or marketing, commercial and planning departments.

Both Amikishiyev and Suleymanov are graduates of the Azerbaijan State University of Economics. It took them three years of hard work to complete this program in parallel with their day-to-day work at BP. The company has been supportive of their efforts, as it wants to see its employees trained to international standards through Western qualifications. The skills they gain and the application of their international qualifications will not only benefit themselves and the company but also Azerbaijan and its people.

Tortoise Conservation
An AIOC survey of the plants and animals around the terminal expansion area established that a number of species of local and global importance are found in the area and may be affected by construction activities. One of these is the Spur-Thighed Tortoise. This species is particularly vulnerable due to the fact that it hibernates in winter and thus can be easily injured during earth works.

To lessen any harmful impact on this species, AIOC has initiated a Spur-Thighed Tortoise Conservation Plan. The company plans to breed tortoises in a special enclosure simulating conditions that are close to natural conditions, in order to avoid a loss in net population. Any tortoises found during construction will be carefully transferred to tortoise boxes and allowed to hibernate there.

The conservation plan is intended to help spread awareness and increase knowledge of this species and will include educational programs at local schools. To date, eight tortoises have been found and taken care of as part of the conservation plan activity. In the future, the company plans to actively involve local NGOs, well-known experts and scientists as well as students in this program.

Agreement with Georgia
The Shah Deniz project partners signed the Host Government Agreement (HGA) with Georgia in March. The signing ceremony took place at the Sheraton Hotel, where Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and other senior officials witnessed the signing.

The HGA signing represents a significant milestone for the Shah Deniz project, marking the transition into the final stage of engineering, tendering and commercial development work, which will lead up to the planned sanction of the project in July 2002. This agreement was the final step toward Shah Deniz sanctioning, paving the way for the development of the world-class Shah Deniz gas field.


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