Group assists UK companies in West Africa markets

The UK West Africa Action Group is providing member companies with a low-cost entry mechanism to allow them access to the lucrative West Africa oil and gas market.

The UK West Africa Action Group is providing member companies with a low-cost entry mechanism to allow them access to the lucrative West Africa oil and gas market.

WAAG is an industry-led marketing initiative formed in partnership with the UK government to increase UK market share in West Africa's oil and gas industry. The group was formed in 1997 in partnership with Trade Partners UK (TPUK), BP, and Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) and is managed by Reith Still, international trade manager at AGCC.

UK WAAG has 50 UK oil and gas companies as members and is actively encouraging more UK companies to join the group to take advantage of the combined resources, market infor-mation, and export initiatives available.

UK WAAG supports its members entering West African markets with:

  • Angolan and Nigerian initiatives, including unique in-market business support services in Luanda, Lagos, and Port Harcourt
  • Production of a bi-monthly newsletter
  • Information packs on target countries
  • Access to contacts in West Africa
  • Market research
  • Close contact with British embassies and high commissions in West Africa
  • Member company profiles on the UK WAAG on-line directory at www.agcc.co.uk
  • Organization of trade missions and networking events
  • Information seminars

Apart from being involved in meeting the day-to-day needs of its members and responding to inquiries, the UK WAAG team administers support facilities it has established in Luanda, Angola, and Lagos and Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

Offshore Angola is recognized as a world-class area for oil exploration and production, but it is acknowledged that small- to medium-sized companies wishing to capitalize on the market opportunities in Angola face significant challenges.

Through a joint venture with TPUK and BP, UK WAAG offers the members of its Angolan initiative a range of business support services in Luanda. These range from visa application assistance and letters of invitation through meet-and-depart immigration support at Luanda airport.

UK WAAG members can take advantage of relationships with BP and the British Embassy commercial division in Luanda. UK WAAG organizes all bookings, and assistance can also be given with identifying key customers and contacts in each sector of the market.

"Many companies within UK WAAG had expressed a strong interest in a low-cost entry mechanism to allow them access to this lucrative oil and gas market," Still said. "Our support facilities allow members to make short visits to meet key decision makers and to assess the full potential of this region without having the risk and exposure to high operating and capital expenditure."

One such company is Aberdeen-based Balmoral Group. In 2002, Balmoral Group secured the insulation contract for the Girassol field off Angola.

"UK WAAG support has proved invaluable in developing a resource in this region," said Jim Milne, chairman and managing director of Balmoral Group. "We were one of 16 companies to use their incubator unit in Angola last year as a base while we built up our contacts in West Africa."

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