LNG project absorbs skilled workers in PNG

Calls for more job training

Operators of Papua New Guinea’s new liquefied natural gas export company have trained nearly 10,000 locals for production and delivery roles as the region’s biggest commercial project rolls off the ground next month. But the mega-rich LNG venture may still face a shortage of relevant skilled workers and the country of 7.7 million would have to turn to neighbouring countries if not Asia for low-wage workers to fill demand in the US$19 billion (K$52 billion) operation.

“We have provided a wide range of training opportunities to enhance the skills and knowledge of our PNG workforce,” Australian Managing Director of Exxon/Mobil Peter Graham told journalists in May. “We recognise that making the most of energy resources in this country is about more than LNG production – it’s about developing people and capacity and creating and delivering long-term benefits to local communities.”

Graham noted the project management has invested more than 2.13 million hours in training 1600 locals in PNG – including about 30 per cent on women – for specialist roles at the training facilities in Port Moresby and the Highlands. Highly special skilled training have also prepared 140 operations and maintenance technicians to operate the Hides gas conditioning plant and LNG plant during production.

The lucrative LNG sector will also create numerous side industries, for which the project owners have directly trained, sub-trained or mentored for the months and years ahead.

Shortage during construction: But project manager of Daewoo E & C – the Korean firm contracted to build the plant – told a PNG-Korea Trade and Investment Fair in Port Moresby last month that the construction process was difficult with huge shortage of technical and expert locals, in fields like electrical and mechanical. Before recruiting expatriates, firms operating in PNG need to submit plans to local department of industrial relations outlining the extent of training the business will give to locals for future positions.

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