Afren Founder Imomoh Says Oil Industry Needs Engineering Mentors

Retiring oil engineers should mentor younger colleagues on how to develop ever-more difficult sources of oil, a founder of explorer Afren Plc. said during a visit to Angola, Africa’s second-largest crude producer.

As little as two hours a month in volunteer training should be written into job descriptions for older technical experts, said Egbert Imomoh, 68, who is also the president of the 100,000-member Society of Petroleum Engineers.

“We can take engineers with solid and proven practical experience, people their colleagues can look up to as role models, and allow youth to know there’s a huge pool of knowledge,” Imomoh said yesterday at a meeting of the society in Luanda, the capital.

Angola is at the leading edge of undersea exploration as ConocoPhillips and BP Plc prepare to drill under a layer of salt 5 kilometers (3 miles) beneath the seabed off the nation’s coast. They are hoping to prove the industry’s Atlantic mirror theory that there may be huge deposits of oil deep beneath the sea off west Africa similar to those across the ocean in Brazil.

Jobs growth for petroleum engineers may not keep pace with the rise in new graduates, Imomoh said, noting the increase in U.S. university freshmen from 1,388 in 2011 to 2,153 last year, according to the June edition of the Journal of Petroleum Technology. Students must be aware that crude prices may fall, though the U.S. shale boom is “grabbing everybody,” he said.

Imomoh benefited from training programs at Royal Dutch Shell Plc in Nigeria, where he rose to be a deputy managing director. He left after 36 years and in 2004 helped found Afren, a U.K. explorer focused on Africa and Iraqi Kurdistan with a market value of 1.47 billion pounds ($2.2 billion).

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