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Economy

KPC welders to replace Chinese, Nigerians after graduation

Kenya has only had three qualified pipelines
Kenya has only had three qualified pipelines welders, all employees of KPC. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Ten Kenyan oil pipeline welders have completed an international accredited training that will ease the skills shortage that forced the country to ship in Chinese, Nigerian and Lebanese welders.

The Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) welders completed the six-months training that saw them sit examinations in Spain ahead of Kenya building an 820-kilometre crude oil pipeline between Lokichar and Lamu for export.

The upgrade comes amid skills shortage in the sector that recently pushed Kenya to ship in about 50 foreign welders while building new Sh43 billion Nairobi-Mombasa pipeline.

KPC acting Managing Director Hudson Andambi said the firm will train more internationally certified pipeline welders with forecast demand for this category of technicians.

“Unlike conventional welding which is widely practised, this is a highly specialised form of welding that is done on petroleum pipelines. For a long time, Kenya has only had three qualified pipelines welders, all employees of KPC,” he said.

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The World Bank through the Kenya Petroleum Training Assistance Programme approved a Sh5 billion funding to help Kenya build capacity in the oil and gas sector. Global consultancy — Australia Africa Energy and Minerals Institute — was tapped to train the welders.

Managing Director Stephen Kuria said Kenya had given foreign contractors a loophole to hire from abroad due to the gap in pipeline welding personnel.

“Because these contracts are mostly done by foreigners, they find it very easy to just recruit from their countries once they realise we have none but if we planned well, you just need six months and enable thousands to get jobs instead of relying on Chinese and Lebanese welders,” Mr Kuria said.

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