"Azerbaijan`s possession of large reserves of oil and gas is our nation`s good fortune and is the most important factor for the welfare of its people and the country`s development, now and in the future".
Heydar Aliyev

The 22nd International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference

On June 3-5, 22nd International Caspian Oil and Gas conference were held in Baku. The organizer of forum “ITE Group Plc” Senior Advisor of the..

Modern industrial management depends upon the professional administration of human resources and this is at the heart of all SOCAR’s achievements. Mr Khalik Mammadov, company Vice-President for Personnel, Regime and Information Technologies, answers our questions about staff selection, career opportunities, education, professional development and other matters.

Khalik Mammadov

Modern industrial management depends upon the professional administration of human resources and this is at the heart of all SOCAR’s achievements. Mr Khalik Mammadov, company Vice-President for Personnel, Regime and Information Technologies, answers our questions about staff selection, career opportunities, education, professional development and other matters.

Khalik muellim, SOCAR is a trans-national company establishing branches and enterprises in many countries. Of course, highly qualified personnel are required to organise and run these large-scale operations, and to prepare them there must be a training structure. How is this organized within SOCAR?

SOCAR was established from facilities experienced in the exploration, production, transportation and processing of oil. Although SOCAR was founded quite recently, it is heir to an oil and gas industry with a 150 year history. Internationally-renowned oilmen were trained in this school and Azerbaijan was long considered the world’s ‘Oil Academy’. We continue a tradition in which our specialists have contributed uniquely to the oil industries of the former USSR and other countries.

But development is accelerating and innovation continues not even month by month, but every day, every hour. The oil industry is now developing at twice or triple the previous rate. So improved personnel preparation and new methods are ever more urgent. And SOCAR has changed. As a player in the global energy business we go to foreign markets with finished products as well as with raw materials, high-volume investment projects, intellectual capital and our production and administrative experience. We do not depend on foreign investment, but expand abroad using our own resources. SOCAR, signatory to many major projects, must now compete with the world’s leading oil companies. Competition means playing to the same international rules governing the management of technology, ecology and human resources.

With these priorities, SOCAR has, since 2005, looked to prepare flexible and creative personnel, initiating well-received projects with secondary and higher education institutions.  

Could you tell us more about these programmes?

My pleasure! Firstly, we organise meetings with pupils, sponsor participation in international Olympiads and organise competitions based on the oil industry in schools. The INEPO-Eurasia International Project Olympiad on Environmental Protection is now a tradition for Baku pupils. However, more than 65% of SOCAR’s employees are manual workers and so the world class Centre for the Organisation of Personnel Training was established to train personnel to modern requirements. Ten specialisms are taught there and graduates go on to work in sections of the company. Another training school will open in Sumqayit this year to supply skilled workers for the Azerkimya PU. We are also developing our partnership with Ministry of Education trade-technical schools.

What projects are conducted in higher educational institutions?

This is the foundation of our personnel preparation. Higher education students have competed for SOCAR scholarships twice a year since 2005. Those who finally graduate are offered jobs; more than 120 joining SOCAR in the past three years. Meanwhile more than twenty SOCAR grant-aided students are abroad on master’s degree courses.

The Scholarship Programme adopted in 2006 by decree of President Ilham Aliyev, has sent 171 youth to prestigious international universities to pursue their specialisms. 93 grant-aided students are still studying while 78 are back, working productively for SOCAR. Our young personnel include a number of graduates of prestigious universities in the UK, USA, Turkey, Norway and other countries. We also employ students who have been educated abroad either with a state scholarship or at their own expense.

Khalik muellim, social incentives are important now in preparing young specialists. What is SOCAR’s approach here?

A schedule of social incentives is in place: recipients of both foreign and domestic scholarship programmes and graduates of foreign universities are offered apartments on preferential terms upon employment. Other opportunities, paid work experience and summer schools are also popular.

There have been competitive admissions to the paid SOCAR Summer School in a picturesque resort since 2010 where students have interactive lectures and visits to production sites, gaining direct experience and skills in Azerbaijan’s oil industry as well as meeting and discussion with company management.

Improvement is a permanent process which is why the company’s training centres were centralised within the Institute of Training, Education and Certification. All centres are equipped with the latest training technologies and facilities and staffed by experienced, internationally qualified specialists. Special skills improvement, refresher and additional qualification courses are organized for over 100 professional and specialist workers. About 10,000 personnel will take courses this year. We also use local and foreign training companies.

President Ilham Aliyev decreed the creation of the Baku Higher Oil Institute within SOCAR. How is the organization going and when will the first applicants be admitted?

I noted that we have financed the Scholarship Programme for several years. However, observation, and analysis led us to conclude that we cannot meet the demand for young professionals trained in modern techniques, technologies and administration this way. The requirement levels for quality and quantity rise constantly and current training throughput cannot keep pace with SOCAR’s development. It is vital to ensure world class education here if we are to cope with the challenges ahead. President Aliyev’s decree to establish the Baku Higher Oil Institute in SOCAR is a progressive response. Organisational work is already well advanced, including meetings with the USA’s Rice and Texas A&M Universities; the UK’s Robert Gordon and Herriot-Watt universities and Turkey’s Koc University on the application of international educational standards at the Institute. A memorandum on the joint establishment and delivery in English of programmes at the Institute has been signed with the University of Herriot-Watt, renowned for producing oil and gas engineering specialists. If we reach their standards, Institute graduates will receive double diplomas.

100 students will study Oil and Gas Engineering and Chemical Engineering in this academic year. This is already included in the State Commission for Student Admission’s programme for 2012.

Will SOCAR continue to send students abroad once the Institute is established?

Of course, but the internal scholarship programme must advance and broaden its scope. There are about 23,000 SOCAR employees in more than 150 specialisms and the Institute cannot meet all future demand, it will focus on the key areas. The demand for staffing in other specialisms will be met by funding education abroad. We have raised the number of internal scholarships to 200 and a further increase is being considered.

How is the application of information technologies progressing in SOCAR?

The world is now a global information society and SOCAR has established itself as a leader in the field by prioritising information technologies.

Fibre-optic cables have been laid between SOCAR and associated enterprises and a telephone network created which serves 13,500 internal subscribers via a computer network and electronic Automatic Telephone Systems covering more than 180 company establishments; all this complies with European Telecommunications Standards Institute advice. More than 5,000 subscribers benefit from electronic post and internet services. Administrative, regulatory and development work on a Business Resource Planning system is underway and modules for the maintenance of the International Accounting System were initiated in 2007. Each module covers one aspect of administration (financial accounting, resource management, sales operations, forecasting, budget reports, human resources etc).Other modules are being introduced.

A measure-control system was created for the state’s gas industry and applied to relevant institutions, joint enterprises and operating companies. All these measures assist productive administration of our oil and gas industry.

We continue to centralise and standardise the Cooperative Unit Information Bank of geological, geophysical and well data on Azerbaijan’s hydrocarbon deposits. Industrial methods of oil exploration and extraction have been used here for more than 160 years and more than 42,000 wells have been sunk. Information on exploitation, repair and geological work is recorded in different formats. Assembling and saving this information in digital form will accelerate the modelling of deposits and calculation of reserves, a key service to future generations.

At what stage is the Oil Museum?

Responsibility for this project was assigned to SOCAR in President Ilham Aliyev’s decree of 4 February 2008, ‘Creating an Oil Museum in the City of Baku’. A department for the organisation of work on the museum was established at Head Office and it created a publicly based ‘Oil Museum Project Group’, including scientists and experts from the Azerbaijan Academy of Art, ANAS Institute of History and Ministry of Culture and Tourism alongside our own specialists. Planning was speedily concluded and presented to the public.

Creating an Oil Museum in Baku is valuable and responsible work. The history of our people and the industrial extraction of the world’s oil are bound up with Azerbaijan’s oil history. A city which is the cradle of the world's oil industry must have a technologically sophisticated Oil Museum to convey the rich history of the Azerbaijani people and their oil industry. It must be a paradigm of the strength and originality of both Baku and Azerbaijan. Although more than ten design projects were submitted by foreign companies in an international competition, none were fully satisfactory. Discussions continue with leading companies.

Does Khalik Mammadov have free time? If so, what does he do then?

I have very little free time and I am happy that way. The most glorious history of Azerbaijan is being written today; living in complex historical conditions, our generation bears the greatest responsibility. I am grateful not to be a spectator but able to work to a destiny entrusted by God, to justify the trust and confidence in me. Time cannot be a concern.

But when I get a chance I like to be with my family, my children and grandchildren. I relax in the village, my father's hearth; his grave is there and I visit him every time I arrive and leave. I report to him as I did when he was alive: what I have done, earned and lost since my last visit... I can never have enough of my mother’s company and her easing my mind.

I never neglect daily exercise. I like playing volleyball and watching volleyball and football; walking at the seaside, fishing and gazing at the sea help to dispel fatigue.

But I happily devote most of my life to work. Managing human resources, preparing personnel and developing information technology is a bridge to SOCAR’s tomorrow. Its strength and stability depend on us.