What is the significance of opening the new training centre in the Middle East?
Fugro’s new training centre enhances our training capabilities and enables us to provide a global service for our marine survey and ROV operations. Delivery of cost-effective training is particularly significant in these current difficult market conditions.
When the Fugro Academy was established in 2006, it was initially operated as a virtual training school with no permanent or dedicated training facilities such as we now have here in the Middle East. Although there were training staff and resources, the Academy relied upon Fugro’s existing office infrastructure and facilities to deliver the training. This was a successful approach, particularly in terms of cost-efficiency, but it was clear that there were some aspects that could be improved. The opening of this new centre, which follows the Fugro training centre that was opened in Plymouth, UK in 2015, has already brought numerous improvements.
Establishing dedicated facilities with staff and equipment means that Fugro is able to deliver high quality training and development without relying on other parts of the organisation to supply the necessary specialised equipment and other resources. We can now develop courses and curricula in our training centres in the knowledge that we can successfully achieve the objectives.
How can the Academy Training Centre help clients in the region?
This additional facility demonstrates the importance Fugro places on the training of new and current staff. It enables us to offer our regional clients a dedicated resource for advice and training on current technologies whilst new and potential clients can preview the training and services that we provide.
What lessons have you learnt from establishing the Fugro Academy in Plymouth that you have brought over to the Middle East academy?
At the Academy in Plymouth we successfully adapted our training model from short, one-week courses to extended programmes over several weeks that incorporated much more practical training. Fugro’s investment in vessels, equipment and facilities allows both centres to provide an environment where delegates can learn for the entire period of training with us.
There is a significant difference between qualification and competence and in Plymouth we proved that we could increase the competence of course attendees by directly following the theoretical aspects of their training with opportunities to put into practice their new knowledge in a controlled environment, using live equipment. Having completed our courses students now return to the workplace with demonstrable experience, whereas previously we would rely on our operating companies to manage the application of their new skills and knowledge.
Our new Middle East centre continues that process, and enables Fugro to provide better services to our clients in the region, especially in specialised fields such as ROV and subsea operations.
What are the benefits of establishing the new centre alongside your existing Abu Dhabi facility?
At our existing operational facilities in Abu Dhabi, attendees (and clients) can observe in a live environment the practical aspects of the topics they are learning. This is a significant benefit when putting theory into practice and is especially important when it comes to safety.
Having the Fugro Academy alongside our current base also enables Fugro to showcase our technologies to potential clients, giving them a greater understanding of our services.
How important is the Abu Dhabi market for Fugro?
Fugro has had a strong presence in Abu Dhabi since 1975 and we are proud of our excellent reputation with the oil and gas companies here.
What are the main subsea challenges in the Middle East and how can the Academy Training Centre overcome these challenges?
The Gulf is shallow and temperatures here are very high. This presents unique challenges with the equipment and methodologies used, both on the sea surface and beneath it. We overcome these challenges by drawing on Fugro’s extensive experience and developing field practices in the safe environment of the training centre. Here all operations are closely supervised and there is no risk to live operational projects.
A key asset is our advanced ROV simulator which we can use to train ROV pilots to operate in shallow water. We develop scenarios and lesson plans which replicate the real project activities they will be expected to undertake; using the simulator enables trainees to practice without risk to people, plant or the environment and they can learn from any mistakes without suffering the consequences of such actions in a live environment.
Do you see a demand for subsea training in the region?
Increased demand for subsea training from our current clients influenced Fugro’s decision to establish this new training centre in Abu Dhabi. We are also receiving interest from companies outside the oil and gas industry that use the services and technologies that Fugro provides.
As a result of the current downturn in the oil and gas industry, companies are looking for ways to reduce operating costs and risks. One option is to invest in existing staff, ensuring they have the appropriate levels of competence and skills for the work they will be involved in. This option is served effectively by the Fugro Academy.
We are also noticing that clients are interested in learning more about the services and technologies provided by Fugro. At the Fugro Academy they can meet our experienced trainers, all of whom are ex-field personnel, and see our technology at first hand.