It’s an honour to be here and to be invited to speak at the Iraq British Business Council among such distinguished guests. Special thanks to Baronness Nicholson for both chairing this conference and indeed for being an inspiration for many of us who work in Southern Iraq.
I’d like to make just a few remarks in the allotted time that I’ve been given to discuss what a company such as BP can do and indeed does do to build human capital in Iraq. I base my comments on my ~3 years of experience in Iraq, the first year or so up in Kirkuk in Northern Iraq and the past ~2 years in Basra in Southern Iraq.
My first insight is that for a company like BP, developing human capital, both in Iraq and around the world, isn’t optional, it’s essential. It is part of our license to operate. It is what governments, national oil companies and the public rightly expect from a large multinational oil company that is given the opportunity to work in their country. I think we take our responsibility very seriously. The first thing we did when we re-entered Kirkuk in 2013 was to send Kirkuk Oil Company employees on training - from international subsurface Petex training, to bringing in English language instructors to work directly in the Kirkuk Oil Company facilities. The point of this training was to open up to the skilled and talented workforce of Kirkuk Oil Company modern techniques and opportunities.
Our scale of operations in Southern Iraq is much larger and correspondingly so has been our impact on developing human capability and technical expertise of the workforce. In Southern Iraq, BP is lead partner in Rumaila, one of the world’s largest oil fields which has over 7,000 people working on it full time and an additional 22,000 largely Iraqi contractors supporting it. From the outset, a Rumaila Operating Organisation partnership was set up made up of senior managers from BP, the Southern Oil Company of Iraq and PetroChina. Together we developed a strategy built around three pillars - “Production, People and Iraq”. We called it Building Futures.
I’d just like to a mention a few of the things that we have accomplished over the past few years in the area of human capability development:
My second main insight from my experience working in Iraq is that for a company like BP, we need (and frankly, want) to make a positive impact on the communities where we operate by improving wider human capital. Rumaila would not operate if it was not for the support it receives from the Basra government and the local community. Indeed, for many in our workforce, seeing our work make a visible positive impact on local communities is core to them - “good citizens make good neighbours”. Over the past six years, we, often in partnership with the AMAR Charitable Foundation, have run numerous programs for the people from communities around us. Let me mention just a few of the things that we have done:
The final thought I want to leave you with is that the best way to improve human capital is when the private sector and the public sector in Iraq work together. A company like BP is large and has significant resources at its disposal, but can only deploy those resources where there is alignment, close coordination and support by both the federal and local governments as well as our national oil company partner. A lot has been accomplished over the past few years - much, unfortunately untold - but we should be under no illusions about the challenges of what is yet to be done in this area. We hope to be part of that journey with you in the years to come.