Home » Cape Town cements its reputation for offshore safety training excellence.

Cape Town cements its reputation for offshore safety training excellence.

by Tia

As South Africa moves along its journey towards energy security, the need for the safe and responsible exploration of natural gas options has become even more critical. An offshore training centre based in Cape Town this week marked a major milestone in its efforts to support this drive for safety.

“The need for skills and expertise in the energy sector has never been more pressing in South Africa,” said Gary Concar of OATC (Offshore Africa Training Centre). The centre celebrated its tenth anniversary this week (February 22, 2024) and welcomed a new survival training course that will even better equip its students.

“We were honoured to have Joe Meanen, one of the legendary 61 heroic survivors of the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster, as a speaker at our event,” said Concar.

Meanen shared his inspiring account – a harrowing reminder of the importance of safety offshore, and a deeply moving story of human resilience in the face of one of history’s most catastrophic gas rig disasters.

As exploration ramps up and new fields are discovered, South Africa’s Southern seas will play host to increasing numbers of drill ships and floating production storage and offloading units.

This growth will see demand for internationally approved energy sector workforce members increase; especially for professionals who are trained according to the most rigorous safety standards. It is this demand that the OATC facility will meet with its new training course.

Meanen spoke to guests about his experience during the fire at Piper Alpha, an event that claimed 165 lives back in 1988. His message, he explains, was about the need to realize that this can happen to anybody at any time.

It is important to be prepared as best you can especially if you are working offshore or in oil and gas and chemical plants. You need to make sure you have the right equipment and machinery so you can cope with any situation.”

Government has emphasised the importance of accelerating the energy transition as an element in economic stability and energy self-sufficiency. In a shifting energy paradigm, with hydrocarbons forecast to account half of the global energy mix by 2030, natural gas and renewables in particular have emerged as a crucial resource facilitating the energy transition.

The OATC facility – the first in SA to offer OPITO-accredited training – runs courses covering key topics like rigging, lifting, slinging, banksman duties, and LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) and now OPITO Survival Courses (BOSIET CA-EBS etc).

OPITO is the global, not-for-profit, skills body for the energy industry.

“Liverpool-based SAFER Training have been a key partner in OATC’s ten-year journey, and have been instrumental in our competitive edge, and the growth we’ve enjoyed in SA. SAFER Training provide a range of internationally recognised courses, to the various energy sectors globally,” said Ian McMillin of SAFER Training.

The event showcased OATC’s commitment to highest standards of health and safety at a crucial time for the Energy Sector in and around SA.

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