How did you come to be in the oil and gas industry?
By virtue of my former position as Secretary to Cabinet which was a promotion from my previous position as Permanent Secretary Office of the President, I served as a Board member for the Gambia National Petroleum Company and also worked with the Executive on different matters including Oil and Gas. Following this, I was appointed to assist the former Managing Director at Gambia National Petroleum Corporation as the institution started its reform and restructuring agenda in preparation for greater upstream focus. Since the Managing Director was appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, I have been Acting Managing Director with GNPC.
What do you believe is the greatest challenge to our industry’s future growth?
I believe this is a tie between skilled human capital and energy reforms aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Statistics show us that an ageing professional workforce in oil and gas coupled with the growing demands of the industry and the volatility of the market also add to the uncertainty of the availability of the requisite skilled workforce for exploration and production activities. However even as that is a growing concern for the industry, the threats of various national and regional policies – an example is the United States’ “Twenty in Ten” initiative which aimed to reduce gasoline consumption in the United States by 20% before last year – especially from major consumers to minimize emissions by minimizing or eliminating the use of AGO and other fossil fuels in the near future is also a visible threat that cannot be taken lightly. Even though International and National players continue to see a rise in demand for Oil and Gas products, these uncertainties reveal a serious challenge in the future.
What makes the MSGBC Basin an attractive region to do business?
- The Basin’s States have witnessed the return of sub-regional political and social stability in the last decade. As compared to other regions, the presence of ECOWAS provides the potential for greater sub-regional integration which therefore also creates a better environment for collaboration within the Basin. These include inter-state protocols for trade and the free movement of goods, services, and personnel.
- The Basin’s shared geological features and characteristics also provide the right technical environment to share data, resources and processes for exploration, development and production activities. Geology connects all Basin States and this provides the perfect opportunity for collaborative investments.
- Recent Oil Discoveries in the Basin which have been huge – Mauritania and Senegal as the clearest examples – provides the perfect financial environment for investment. The Basin which has undergone great de-risking in the last decade now provides a secure line of confidence for higher investments and great returns. As the new frontier, the MSGBC Basin is the region to do business in Oil and Gas.
How do you see the Gambian oil and gas industry evolving over the next 5 years?
GNPC and the Gambia Government are extremely confident of the country’s potential for Oil and Gas discovery. The next five years is expected to see an evolution in the industry as has been witnessed by Ghana, Senegal and Mauritania. The highly anticipated discovery of Oil and Gas will translate into growths in associated industries (construction, communications infrastructure, support services etc) whilst also seeing the development of human capital in the National Oil Company and its greater participation on all licenses. The industry and in extension, the country should see an increased interest from Majors and Super-Majors and other multinationals in other industries for inclusive development across the board. With a better defined PEPLA being finalized and the licensing process for open blocks currently ongoing, the dynamics of the industry will improve greatly in the next five years in The Gambia.
What have been the most exciting developments for GNPC over the past year?
- Due to the growing demands of the industry and in preparation for a greater focus on Upstream activities, the National Oil Company kick-started a restructuring and reform process which will definitely trigger reforms in the entire industry and how it does business
- GNPC is also currently developing a four-year strategic plan in line with Government’s National Development Plan. Different from previous initiatives, the new Strategic Plan which attracted contributions from various stakeholders will have a unique upstream focus as the National Oil Company seeks to increase capacity and participation on all upstream activities.
- GNPC also worked on the acquisition of innovative downstream solutions for service stations in a fast-changing urban environment. This includes the acquisition and eventual deployment of mobile service stations for increased access to communities and businesses
What are you most looking forward to at the MSGBC Basin Summit & Exhibition? What would you like to take away from the gathering?
- Taking cue from my predecessor, I believe finalizing on the establishment of a fully fledged MSGBC Secretariat to be hosted in The Gambia will be a huge accomplishment for GNPC and for the Basin. I believe this will create potential for greater collaboration and cooperation for all the Basin’s States
- I also expect to experience great networking with other heads of National Oil Companies and International Oil Companies for future collaboration and sharing of best practices. As our industry in The Gambia still goes through the preliminary stages of potential discovery, I believe The Gambia has a unique opportunity of learning from its neighbours and adopting best practices to ensure that the benefits of our resources are not only fully felt by our people but that the presence of Oil & Gas creates a model industry and country in the region.
About Isatou Auber Faal
Mrs. Isatou Auber Faal is a highly driven professional with over 15 years experience in Top Management. Her steady rise through the ranks of Government of The Gambia saw her handle the position of Secretary to Cabinet before her most recent deployment to the National Oil Company, first as Deputy Managing Director and currently as Acting Managing Director. Her administrative experience at the pinnacle of the civil service has given her vast experience and expertise to support and coordinate the National Oil Company’s development agenda through the ongoing restructuring and reform process in preparation for increased upstream activities. Read more about Isatou Auber Faal here.
Isatou Auber Faal will be speaking on the NOC panel discussion titled ‘Uniting as a Region to Move the MSGBC Basin into the Next Stage of Development’ the upcoming MSGBC Basin Summit & Exhibition taking place in Dakar, 24 – 26 October 2018.