Developing skilled professionals in the energy domain is crucial
Energy has been and will remain an intriguing sector. Management of energy resources is vital for the economic growth of any country. The Indian economy is looking to get back on a higher growth trajectory with the new government working on several initiatives and reforms to boost industrial activity. India is focusing on getting more investment in the core sectors—power, oil & gas, steel, roads and other infrastructure—since it results in multiplier effect on income generation. However, the requirements of organisations operating in the power and oil & gas sectors are not limited to capital investment and infrastructure; they need specialised manpower.
Since June 2013, the Project Monitoring Group (PMG) has facilitated clearance to 180 projects that entail an investment of R6.5 lakh crore. There are around 220 projects, worth R11 lakh crore, which are expected to be cleared soon. Most of these are from the energy sector or critically related to the energy sector. The 12th Five Year Plan envisages power generation capacity of 1 lakh MW. Considering this, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) is looking towards a manpower requirement of 7.4 lakh personnel to man the targeted power generation capacity.
These numbers depict only the jobs created from the projects which have been commissioned and generating electricity. These stimuli need to be matched with the availability of trained manpower for this sector. The companies in the energy sector need to understand the aspects of marketing, finance and other functional areas in the realm of the energy sector. Without getting the requisite skill, i.e. the ability to apply functional management knowledge to the energy domain, these companies run the risk of being ‘sub-prime category’ for getting bank loans.
Oil & gas
India imports around 80% of its crude oil requirements. Natural gas demand in the country is 242 mmscmd but the supply is just 134 mmscmd, including imports. The government has initiated reforms in the exploration and production of oil & gas. Natural gas price has been hiked to $5.61 from $4.2. There is a promise of providing a premium to gas from difficult fields, i.e. very deep water basins. Such steps are expected to bring renewed interest among the oil & gas companies to participate in the next NELP round. As many as 10 new LNG regasification terminals are being planned, which implies an investment of R50,000 crore. The deregulation of diesel prices is bringing back private refiners in the retail segment. Retail outlets by RIL, Essar and Shell will be rolled out and this offers huge employment opportunities.
Coal shortage in the country and the falling international price of coal led to 20% surge in coal imports in September. Falling crude oil prices will encourage more crude oil to be imported and refined in Indian refineries. As US legislations allow more of natural gas exports, the LNG vessels will move towards this side of the world and compete with supplies from the Middle-East. In order to gear for increased imports of coal, crude oil and gas, port management and infrastructure needs to improve. Jobs will be created in the areas of port management, shipping research and oil & gas trading.
Human capital: the missing link
Developing skilled professionals in the energy domain would go a long way in making India energy secure. Some institutes offering specialised programmes catering to energy sector institutions are the Indian School of Mines, National Power Training Institute, Deen Dayal Upadhyay University and Great Lakes Institute of Management. However, given the enormity of the task, they will have to create capacities for providing adequate manpower for the sector.
The government has to take a serious view about skill building in the energy sector. The companies in the energy sector should be encouraged to send their employees for requisite training and certification. American universities such as the University of Houston and Rice University have been at the forefront of imparting education in the energy sector. We can learn from them.
Vikas Prakash Singh
The author is director, PGPM Energy, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon