Congo General Manager

Attracted to work as an expatriate, Louis very quickly chose the oil industry. He decided to put his numerous skills at the service of ambitious projects, such as exploiting mature fields in deep water, thus demonstrating the sustainability of the company model.

Can you tell us about your career pathway ? Why did you chose Perenco ?

After studying engineering and specialising in civil engineering, I started my career in metal construction, before moving to oil services and then finally oil production.
I am a graduate of Ecole Polytechnique and of the French National School of Ponts et Chaussées (Civil Engineering). I returned to Bouygues offshore (now Saipem), within a department specialising in the construction of deep-water oil installations. As a child, I had known life in expatriation and this type of life had always attracted me. Unfortunately, the oil services sector only offered very few family opportunities for engineers at the beginning of their careers. This is the reason why I think I decided to look somewhere else and I left Saipem after three years. I knew Perenco through connections and I applied spontaneously.

Can you tell us about your professional journey with Perenco?

Having no special oil or subsoil technical background, Human Resources at the time agreed to recruit me on the condition that I would start as a Production Engineer (PE). So I received my first six-month production assignment as PE, then I was transferred to Congo B as a site manager.
After a year of rotational shifts, I applied for a subsidiary-based position with my family. An opportunity was offered to me as Deputy Manager of Operations in the DRC. I stayed for one year in Muanda before returning to Paris, in 2006, to the Projects Department, as Project Manager for the design and construction of a platform for the Emeraude field. With a team of five people, we managed the entire project, the studies (in the UK and in Paris), the design (marine engineering office in Hamburg), the follow-up of the completion in Morocco, its transfer to the Congo and its installation. We had a lot of autonomy. I have excellent memories of this project and this position.
The project was completed so I was transferred to Tunisia as General Manager of the subsidiary. It was at the time a small subsidiary, quite simple in terms of management.
After two years in Tunisia, I was assigned to Gabon, as Operations Manager. My job was to manage a large operational team and to interact with headquarters, especially on large projects. I was second in charge after the General Manager of the subsidiary. I was responsible for setting up our new commercial agreements. My role was focused on oil and technical activities. We had a very united team.
Then, in 2014, I was appointed General Manager of Peru. The subsidiary had been in production for about six months after a very complex project of almost three years. The residing memory is of an experience centred on financial management, on the relations with the government and on handling a large amount of human resources (most of the subsidiary) who had to be demobilised following the crisis in 2014. I remained there until the summer of 2016 before being appointed to my current position as General Manager of the Congo subsidiary.

Can you describe your subsidiary? What makes it special?

The Congo branch has four offshore sites. Production started in 2001 on Emeraude with 4,000 barrels a day. Today Congo B exceeds 60,000 and we aim to exceed 70,000 in the next few months thanks to a drilling campaign that has recently started.

From a technical point of view, the subsidiary characteristics lie in the depth of water, since three out of our four fields are located at a depth of 100 meters. This has an impact on the maintenance of the installations and on new projects because, from 50 meters onwards, divers can no longer intervene. We must therefore use adapted methods, which are different from the ones used in other subsidiaries with less depth.

What are your objectives and which challenges do you face in your job?

As General Manager, I have three major tasks.
The first one is about human resources and management. Social issues are important and affect both national and expatriate employees and their families. I must be present at all times and available for all the people under my lead.
The second is operational. I manage an operating budget. With a dedicated team I have to report on costs, analyse performance indicators and plan investments. I am also in charge of safety with a legal responsibility for the scope of our industrial activities.
My role includes relationship issues as well. The General Manager of the subsidiary represents the company in most negotiations and exchanges with the relevant Ministry and administrations. 

What is your vision for tomorrow?

The Congolese subsidiary is currently in a growth cycle. In July we launched a new drilling campaign, in development and exploration and we will soon be welcoming a new terminal at Yombo, La Noumbi FPSO.