UDSM aims to produce more experts in oil, gas subsector

10Dec 2017
Aisia Rweyemamu
Guardian On Sunday
UDSM aims to produce more experts in oil, gas subsector

THE University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) has committed itself to supporting and participating in generating local content for the oil and gas sector in the country.

A group photo for Tanzanian students who have completed a masters programme in petroleum geosciences and petroleum engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. PHOTO: The Guardian Correspondent

The move aims at producing more experts in the petroleum subsector to serve in the emerging gas economy.

The university will also continue to play its role in furthering the aspirations of the nation to be self-reliant in various aspects of high level manpower requirements.

UDSM Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research - Prof Cuthbert Kimambo made the commitment at the 4th Angola-Tanzania Higher Education Initiative (ANTHEI) graduation ceremony involving nine students who have been undertaking a masters programme in petroleum geosciences and petroleum engineering at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Norway.

The graduates bring the number of graduates from the programme to 37 as two other batches of students are at various stages of completing their studies.

Prof Kimambo explained that the move was a major achievement, not only for the two universities but also for the nation as a whole.

“As the sector prepares itself for the onset of more sustainable and productive operations, the need for high calibre experts cannot be overemphasized,” he said.

The DVC challenged the graduates to recognize the expectations and trust that the nation has bestowed upon them.  

He said they owed the people of Tanzania and had to to repay the sacrifices the people made for them through hard work, trustworthiness and diligence.

According to Prof Kimambo, as a collaborating partner in this useful programme, UDSM was proud of the achievements that the programme had realised so far.

The university is highly conscious of the desire of the government to get experts in the petroleum subsector to serve the emerging gas economy, he said.

According to him, the country attached great significance to university-industry collaboration in the areas of research and training, where it believes it can stand a better position to train graduates who have the requisite knowledge and skills for the industry.

He warned however that this could only be achieved if local universities had the involvement of the industry in the design and development of the curriculum and its eventual implementation.

The programme of the students’ education was made possible by Statoil in collaboration with UDSM.

“You have done a good service to this nation and we shall be there to work together with you for many more years to come,” he said.

The DVC explained that plans were underway to transfer such oil and gas degree programmes to UDSM.

 He said UDSM was counting on the support from NTNU in terms of delivery of some of the courses on a distant mode, the provision of supervision and support visiting professors from Norway and elsewhere in the world, asking Statoil and other companies like ExxonMobil to provide adjunct professors who could help run the programmes in the country.

He said the university also expected curriculum support from the industry so that they can guarantee relevance of the programme and suitability of the graduates.

According to the new masters graduates, confidence in them was crucial as they had received international training and were capable of executing all relevant projects in the country.

“We are fit to work in both local and international companies,” said Zuhura Mkindi, one of the nine graduates.

She said the country needed to be proud of their expertise in geosciences and petroleum to be able to teach others to produce more experts in the sector.

Statoil Country Manager Qysten Michelsen said his firm was proud to work in partnership with universities to achieve the capacity building goal which is the focus in developing the oil and gas sector in the country.

“It is our aim to see Tanzanians are trained and qualified to take part in contributing to the growth of this sector both directly and indirectly,” said Qysten.

Richard Rwechungura, a leader in capacity building and technology transfer at Statoil, said the programme was structured in such a way that allowed students to spend one year in Norway and do their final MSc at UDSM.According to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between UDSM, Statoil and NTNU, the scholarship programme started in 2012 and will beextended to 2019.

However, the project idea was conceived in 2011 ,building on the then existing programme between the University of Agostinho Netto (UAN) in Angola and NTNU.

UDSM was incorporated in the tripartite agreement sometime in 2012 among three universities focusing on offering training of petroleum engineers and petroleum geoscientists at a masters level.

The first batch of 10 Tanzanian students were admitted at NTNU in 2012 to pursue masters in petroleum studies where eight of them were further selected to pursue a masters in petroleum engineering and two undertook a masters in petroleum geoscience and completed their studies in 2014.

Last year at least 13 students left the country for NTNU to undertake course work, they being the fifth batch, while the final one left the country this August comprising 14 students.

So far students from Tanzania have been going to Norway for a masters programme and staff members from Norway have also been coming to hold seminars and conduct short training in petroleum issues.

The overall programme coordinator is stationed at NTNU. Each country however has a coordinator at the local institution. At UDSM, the programme is currently coordinated by head of the Department of Chemical and Mining Engineering Dr. Ambrose Itika.