Poland has one of the most unique training centers in
Europe – Vulcan Training & Consultancy. Employees in the oil &
gas and offshore wind industry can gain new skills and improve
competencies at the center in Szczecin. Training allows employees
operating in the offshore industry to return home safely. As Artur
Ambrożewicz, CEO of Vulcan Training, emphasizes, safety is the key.
„The goal of training is never to send a delegate to work, but to
approach the issue of health and safety completely from the other
side. The center was established first and foremost with a mission to
build a safety culture among employees,” the CEO stresses. In the
next article in the "Who is Who in the Polish Offshore"
series, we ask about the Center's achievements to date and
Vulcan Training & Consultancy provides unique training for the offshore industry. Thanks to them, offshore workers can take care of their safety. Offshore work is demanding and very dangerous, which requires solid operational knowledge. The center in Szczecin holds key accreditations: OPITO, Global Wind Organization (GWO), Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), PRS, DNV, Lloyd's Register. In addition, Vulcan has implemented ISO 45001:2018 and ISO 9001:2015 occupational health and safety management systems.
„Vulcan Training & Consultancy was born out of the passion and commitment of the founders, who put all their several years of experience in the offshore - oil & gas industry into the center. This resulted in the creation of the first - and so far the only - training center in Poland with OPITO accreditation," says Artur Ambrożewicz.
He adds that the Center prepares delegates to be able to take care of their own and their colleagues' health and safety in emergency situations.
„We teach evacuation from a sinking helicopter, survival techniques at sea, safe work at height, evacuation from a wind turbine, advanced first aid, behavior underwater, in smoke-filled spaces and in the presence of fire, or safe crane operations. All in all, health and safety with a very broad spectrum," he enumerates. „During training, we improve knowledge and skills, not to send a delegate to work, but so that from that work he or she can return home safely to his or her family. This is how our mission was established: for your safe return," he adds.
Vulcan trains offshore wind workers
The training center is also committed to training offshore wind workers. The demand for such services will grow every year due to the ambitious plans of Poland, but also of the rest of the Baltic countries for offshore wind.
„In 2018 we started with three trainings and four employees, today it's more than 60 OPITO, Global Wind Organization (GWO), IRATA, IOSH and NEBOSH accredited health and safety trainings and more than 40 employees. In 2021, Vulcan was ranked among the Top 10 largest training centers in Europe according to the GWO organization. This is a very big success, but also a huge commitment," our interviewee stresses.
Vulcan experts as health and safety consultants have already supported one of the offshore elevator investors in Poland with their knowledge. The consultation included audits of five vessels, work on HSE design documentation and ongoing support of the project.
„It was an excellent experience and a real encounter with the Polish offshore, which unfortunately is still far from world standards,” Ambrożewicz says. „The Polish offshore is just sprouting, but we have already had the pleasure of hosting the first delegates representing developers who will develop offshore wind farms in the Polish economic zone during the training,” he adds.
The offshore wind sector is
accelerating. Vulcan does not forget about quality
Offshore wind energy is one of the most rapidly growing energy industries. It brings opportunities, but also challenges, for some - problems.
„The very rapid growth we have seen over the past few years brings with it many risks. Chasing continuous growth, it is very easy to forget what you already have. Today, our main focus is on maintaining quality at a larger scale, and we approach new projects with more detachment, although it can't be said that we have stopped," he says.
Vulcan currently has the largest training infrastructure in Poland. It is therefore important to constantly assess the risk of all its elements in order to ensure that training is conducted in a controlled environment and comfortable conditions.
„Our training facilities include an air-conditioned hall, wind turbine simulator, HUET simulator, Avanti elevator or heated training pool. In addition, we provide our delegates with comprehensive PPE - personal protective equipment, which must always have the necessary inspections," he explains.
In July 2022, Vulcan expanded its services to include an Occupational Medicine Clinic - Vulcan Medical - with seafarers and wind turbine technicians in mind.
„Adding transport services and Vulcan's own three-star hotel, we are heading for a classic one-stop shop, where a technician or seafarer can be comprehensively prepared for a trip to work in one place,” he explains.
That's not all. Ambrożewicz reports that in early September 2022, further training from the OPITO palette required for Emergency Response Rescue Vessels (ERROVs) - so-called ITSO training - will enter the Vulcan portfolio.
„Admittedly, this is a development in the direction of oil&gas, but it is from oil&gas that all the safety standards that today have been implemented by the offshore wind industry originate,” he says.
If Polish companies seize the opportunity, Vulcan will also help
Ambrożewicz stresses that Vulcan Training is growing along with the offshore wind industry.
„If Polish companies take advantage of this huge opportunity that faces RES globally, Vulcan Training will also make a tiny contribution,” he says modestly. „When someone asks whether Polish companies will be able to take advantage of this, I'm not worried. Citing the Global Wind Organization's 2020 report, 165,667 certificates were issued in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, of which as many as 14,011, or 8.5 percent, were issued in Poland. This means that in 2020 there were about 4,000 qualified, active wind turbine technicians in our country. How is this possible, when virtually no turbines have been erected in Poland since 2016? Poles are implementing projects abroad.”
„While attending the recent PWEA conference in Serock, I had the pleasure of participating in a roundtable meeting with the Minister of Climate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Rob Jetten and Polish and Dutch companies. All Dutch companies at the table declared that they employ Poles. There is a lack of Polish installation vessels, a lack of service fleets - qualified personnel with vast experience have no one to work for in Poland today, so they carry out global projects,” he explains.
Ambrożewicz points out that today Vulcan Training primarily trains employees involved in international projects located outside Poland. "We are looking forward to seeing these parities reversed," he says.
After the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the related energy blackmail by the Russian Federation, carbon-free energy from RES was called "freedom energy."
„Today, everyone wants twice as much RES as they wanted just a year or two ago. What does this entail? Every country will face a shortage of skilled labor. High demand and low supply will result in an exodus of workers to more developed and better-paid markets. Even if we manage to train a reasonable number of people, the question is where and for whom they will work - will Orlen, PGE and other Polish companies be an attractive enough employer?” - asks Ambrożewicz.
Poland's offshore wind sector needs
The energy and marine industries are eagerly awaiting the first offshore turbines on the horizon. Not everything is going perfectly as originally expected.
„To develop the offshore sector in Poland, one needs companies that are not afraid to take risks today in order to be ready for tomorrow, and huge capital. Banks and financial institutions need to be persuaded that, despite the considerable risk, this is a necessary direction of development, and without bailing out companies there will be no supply chain,” Ambrożewicz comments.
Another key issue is the involvement of publicly funded companies and institutions in commercial projects.
„Why are they engaging public funds
and bidding for offshore? How is a Polish entrepreneur supposed to
invest or develop in areas where institutions that fund themselves
with our taxes are competing - this is absurd and a key thing to
change. It is, to put it bluntly, unfair competition,"
Ambrożewicz points out.
Vulcan's plans for 2023
Vulcan has acquired 16 OPITO accreditations over the past 3 years. The CEO announces that this is not the end.
„We are currently implementing the construction of a commercial fire training ground, which, when completed in the second quarter of 2023, will become the largest of its kind in Poland. Thanks to it, our portfolio will include another dozen training courses in OPITO accreditation for advanced firefighting groups on offshore oil & gas installations such as OERTM/L, HERTM/L including Helicopter Landing Officer (HLO), for which today Poles still go abroad," he informs.
„I would also like to continue my cooperation with Gdansk University of Technology and the Maritime University as a lecturer at postgraduate courses - these classes give me a lot of pleasure and energy for further work,” he adds.
The plan is also to introduce additional training for wind farm employees: SEP electrical training, operation of an overhead crane or a UDT suspended mobile platform. „We still have a lot of work ahead of us in an ever-growing market," emphasizes Artur Ambrożewicz.