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Last Updated: April 21, 2016
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Career Development

I remember three years ago, same time as now. It was April, and I was looking for an internship placement. I applied with many companies, and kept receiving rejections until finally I received a call from Schlumberger that I would be doing my internship with them in drilling and measurement segment. 

Although companies were doing well at that time as there was no market downturn like the one we are in right now, getting an internship was still a difficult task to do. But when I see how extremely hard it is for students to secure their internship right now, I feel that we were somehow privileged. 

With oil and gas companies cutting their costs down, reducing their workforce and scaling back their recruitment activities, students are met with a tough time securing an internship placement. To succeed in obtaining an internship placement in such a market downturn requires much effort, and different strategies. To help students with this task, here are three advices that I believe could help them secure their internship this year. 


1. Act outside the box


It is often said "think outside the box", well, it is April now, and definitely there is no time to think, it is time to act. Acting inside the box would be to follow the traditional way of applying for an internship. That starts with preparing your resume and cover-letter. Getting companies' contacts details ready and then start to apply online or send your resume and cover-letter to the HR. Then you wait for the magic to happen. 


While acting inside the box often works well in a better state of the oil market, it is highly unlikely that it works well in the current downturn. Oil companies are trying to reduce costs by laying off some of their employees and scaling back their hiring activities. That means your online application will often be rejected or you end up getting no response from companies. And this is the reason why I want you to act outside the box and here is how you do it. 


Follow the above steps of applying for an internship and once you are done, you don't really have to wait for the magic to happen. Instead, I want you to prepare yourself to visit those companies. This may sound bizarre at first, but it is exactly what I want you to do. There is no need to start thinking if companies will agree to see you or not, or if they ask you to submit online rather than going to the company's office, because there is a strong reason why you should go. 


With many applications sent over to oil and gas companies everyday not only for internship, but also for job, and the fact that companies have reduced their recruitment activities, it is highly likely that your applications will not be looked at. But think about it, what if you pay them a visit, show up in their office, and hopefully you manage to meet their HR, things could go differently. Isn't it? 


While it is true that the majority of oil companies have online application and you are requested to apply there, don't forget that many companies allow drop-in resume during conferences and exhibitions which is the same as what you are going to do. You are going to visit the company and drop your resume. The only difference here is that sometimes you need to have an appointment to visit the company. 


For companies that are hard to visit unless you have an appointment, there are two ways to get it. First of all, find someone you know working in that company. Ask them if they can help you to visit the company. Most of the time this person will be your senior or someone you met during a conference or any oil industry related activities. Just let them know why you want to visit the company and why they have to help you. Convincing them depends on your ability and skills to convince people. So give it a try. 


The second way to secure an appointment is to call the company and ask for an appointment with the HR and tell them that you are a student looking for an internship and that you have an offer for the company which you will discuss with their HR or anyone who will meet you... I've just told you to say that you have an offer for the company, so what a student has to offer a company?


2. Offer the company to do a non-paid internship 


If you are serious about getting your internship with oil and gas companies in such a market downturn, you should start thinking about a non-paid internship. Many oil and gas companies used to offer paid internship to students where they get a monthly payment while doing their training, however, since oil companies now are more focused on cutting costs down, they reduced or totally closed paid internships positions. 


That being said, as a student you are left with no option but to adapt to the current circumstances. Adapting here means to change your strategy from looking for a paid internship to offering companies to do a non-paid internship. This is the offer that I have mentioned earlier which can get you an appointment with the company. Therefore, when you call the company to make an appointment, let them know that you are a student and that you have an offer regarding internship which you want to discuss with their HR. 


So why you have to offer the companies to do a non-paid internship. First of all, it addresses the difficult time companies are going through and that you are aware about it. Besides that, it makes you stand out among other normal applicants and consequently increases your chances of securing a placement. It also shows your eagerness to give up money for knowledge and experience. These all are qualities that companies value, and by doing so you may not only get an internship placement but you may also secure your future job. 


3. Search for internship outside the oil industry


The last advice that I want to share with you on how to secure your internship for this year is to look for internship opportunities outside the oil industry. Oil companies have reduced their openings for internships, and therefore many students will be left with no chance of securing their internship placement within the oil industry. In this case, my advice for you is to look for internship opportunities outside the oil industry. 


In my perspective, internship is more about gaining your first experience on how the actual workplace looks like, how employees interact with each. It is about building your interpersonal skills more than building your technical skills as the time is limited. Therefore, in a time where getting an internship placement is hard in your own industry, it is advised that you look for an internship in a different industries, preferably ones that are close to yours. 


Don't waste your time waiting for a response from oil and gas companies where you have applied for internship. Look around you, find opportunities in other industries, ask your friends or family to help get a placement for your internship in positions that can give you the same workplace experience, and help you build your interpersonal skills. 


Those were the three advices that I wanted to share with you which could help you secure your internship placement in the oil industry or in other industries especially as the time left to start your internship is very short. One last reminder though is; don't forget to prepare an excellent resume and cover-letter as the above tips are only meant to make your resume and cover-letter reach to the HR's hand. And lastly, I wish you all the best in your internship hunting journey. 


By Alahdal A. Hussein

university students internship oil market downturn experience soft skills technical skills self-development
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Venezuelan crude oil production falls to lowest level since January 2003

monthly venezueal crude oil production

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook

In April 2019, Venezuela's crude oil production averaged 830,000 barrels per day (b/d), down from 1.2 million b/d at the beginning of the year, according to EIA’s May 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook. This average is the lowest level since January 2003, when a nationwide strike and civil unrest largely brought the operations of Venezuela's state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), to a halt. Widespread power outages, mismanagement of the country's oil industry, and U.S. sanctions directed at Venezuela's energy sector and PdVSA have all contributed to the recent declines.

monthly venezuela crude oil rig count

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Baker Hughes

Venezuela’s oil production has decreased significantly over the last three years. Production declines accelerated in 2018, decreasing by an average of 33,000 b/d each month in 2018, and the rate of decline increased to an average of over 135,000 b/d per month in the first quarter of 2019. The number of active oil rigs—an indicator of future oil production—also fell from nearly 70 rigs in the first quarter of 2016 to 24 rigs in the first quarter of 2019. The declines in Venezuelan crude oil production will have limited effects on the United States, as U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude oil have decreased over the last several years. EIA estimates that U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in 2018 averaged 505,000 b/d and were the lowest since 1989.

EIA expects Venezuela's crude oil production to continue decreasing in 2019, and declines may accelerate as sanctions-related deadlines pass. These deadlines include provisions that third-party entities using the U.S. financial system stop transactions with PdVSA by April 28 and that U.S. companies, including oil service companies, involved in the oil sector must cease operations in Venezuela by July 27. Venezuela's chronic shortage of workers across the industry and the departure of U.S. oilfield service companies, among other factors, will contribute to a further decrease in production.

Additionally, U.S. sanctions, as outlined in the January 25, 2019 Executive Order 13857, immediately banned U.S. exports of petroleum products—including unfinished oils that are blended with Venezuela's heavy crude oil for processing—to Venezuela. The Executive Order also required payments for PdVSA-owned petroleum and petroleum products to be placed into an escrow account inaccessible by the company. Preliminary weekly estimates indicate a significant decline in U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in February and March, as without direct access to cash payments, PdVSA had little reason to export crude oil to the United States.

India, China, and some European countries continued to receive Venezuela's crude oil, according to data published by ClipperData Inc. Venezuela is likely keeping some crude oil cargoes intended for exports in floating storageuntil it finds buyers for the cargoes.

monthly venezuela crude oil exports by destinatoin

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, and Clipper Data Inc.

A series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, likely damaging the reservoirs and associated infrastructure. In the Orinoco Oil Belt area, Venezuela produces extra-heavy crude oil that requires dilution with condensate or other light oils before the oil is sent by pipeline to domestic refineries or export terminals. Venezuela’s upgraders, complex processing units that upgrade the extra-heavy crude oil to help facilitate transport, were shut down in March during the power outages.

If Venezuelan crude or upgraded oil cannot flow as a result of a lack of power to the pumping infrastructure, heavier molecules sink and form a tar-like layer in the pipelines that can hinder the flow from resuming even after the power outages are resolved. However, according to tanker tracking data, Venezuela's main export terminal at Puerto José was apparently able to load crude oil onto vessels between power outages, possibly indicating that the loaded crude oil was taken from onshore storage. For this reason, EIA estimates that Venezuela's production fell at a faster rate than its exports.

EIA forecasts that Venezuela's crude oil production will continue to fall through at least the end of 2020, reflecting further declines in crude oil production capacity. Although EIA does not publish forecasts for individual OPEC countries, it does publish total OPEC crude oil and other liquids production. Further disruptions to Venezuela's production beyond what EIA currently assumes would change this forecast.

May, 21 2019
Your Weekly Update: 13 - 17 May 2019

Market Watch

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 13 May 2019 – Brent: US$70/b; WTI: US$61/b

  • Crude oil prices are holding their ground, despite the markets showing nervousness over the escalating trade dispute between the USA and China, as well as brewing tensions in the Middle East over the Iranian situation
  • China retaliated against President Trump’s decision to raise tariffs from 10% to 25% on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports by raising its own tariffs; crucially, China has also slapped taxes on US LNG imports at a time when American export LNG projects banking on Chinese demand are coming online
  • In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia reported that two of its oil tankers were attacked in the Persian Gulf, with the ‘sabotage attack’ near the UAE speculated to be related to Iran; with the US increasing its military presence in the area, the risk of military action has escalated
  • The non-extension of US waiver on Iranian crude is biting hard on Iran, with its leaders calling it ‘unprecedented pressure’, setting the stage for a contentious OPEC meeting in Vienna
  • In a move that is sure to be opposed by Iran, Saudi Arabia has said it is willing to meet ‘all orders’ from former Iranian buyers through June at least; Saudi Aramco is also responding to requests by Asian buyers to provide extra oil
  • The see-saw trend in US drilling activity continues; after a huge gain two weeks ago, the active US rig count declined for a second consecutive rig, with the loss of two oil rigs bringing the total site count to 988, below the equivalent number of 1,045 last year
  • There is considerably more upside to crude prices at the moment, with jitters over the health of the global economy and a delicate situation in the Middle East likely to keep Brent higher at US$71-73/b and WTI at US$62-64/b

Headlines of the week


  • Occidental Petroleum and Warren Buffet have triumphed, as Chevron bowed out of a bidding war for Anadarko Petroleum; Occidental will now acquire Anadarko for US$57 billion, up significantly from Chevron’s US$33 billion bid
  • The deal means that Occidental’s agreement to sell Anadarko’s African assets to Total for US$8.8 billion will also go through, covering the Hassi Berkine, Ourhoud and El Merk fields in Algeria, the Jubilee and TEN fields in Ghana, the Area 1 LNG project in Mozambiuqe and E&P licences in South Africa
  • BP has sanctioned the Thunder Horse South Expansion Phase 2 deepwater project in the US Gulf of Mexico, which is expected to add 50,000 boe/d of production at the Thunder Horse platform beginning 2021
  • Africa is proving to be very fruitful for Eni, as it announced a new gas and condensate discovery offshore Ghana; the CTP-Block 4 in the Akoma prospect is estimated to hold some 550-650 bcf of gas and 18-20 mmbl of condensate
  • In an atypical development, South Africa has signed a deal for the B2 oil block in South Sudan, as part of efforts to boost output there to 350,000 b/d
  • Shell expects to drill its first deepwater well in Mexico by December 2019 after walking away with nine Mexican deepwater blocks last year

Midstream & Downstream

  • China’s domestic crude imports surged to a record 10.64 mmb/d in April, as refiners stocked up on an Iranian crude bonanza due to uncertainty over US policy, which has been confirmed as crude waivers were not renewed
  • Having had to close the Druzhba pipeline and Ust-Luga port for contaminated crude, Russia says it will fully restore compliant crude by end May shipments, including cargoes to Poland and the Czech Republic
  • Mexico’s attempt to open up its refining sector has seemingly failed, with Pemex taking over the new 340 kb/d refinery as private players balked at the US$8 billion price tag and 3-year construction deadline
  • Ahead of India’s move to Euro VI fuels in April 2020, CPCL is partially shutting down its 210 kb/d Manali refinery for a desulfurisation revamp
  • China’s Hengli Petrochemical is reportedly now stocking up on Saudi Arabian crude imports as it prepares to ramp up production at its new 400 kb/d Dalian refinery alongside its 175 kb/d site in Brunei
  • South Korea’s Lotte Chemical Corp expects its ethane cracker in Louisiana to start up by end May, adding 1 mtpa of ethylene capacity to its portfolio
  • Due to water shortage, India’s MRPL will be operating its 300 kb/d refinery in Katipalla at 50% as drought causes a severe water shortage in the area

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Partners in the US$30 billion Rovuma LNG project in Mozambique now expect to sanction FID by July, even after a recent devastating cyclone
  • Also in Mozambioque, Anadarko is set to announce FID on its Mozambique LNG project on June 18, calling it a ‘historic day’
  • After talks of a joint LNG export complex to develop gas resources in Tanzania, Shell and Equinor now appear to be planning separate projects
  • Gazprom has abandoned plans to build an LNG plant in West Siberia to compete with Novatek, focusing instead on an LNG complex is Ust-Luga
  • First LNG has begun to flow at Sempra Energy’s 13.5 mtpa Cameron LNG project in Louisiana, with exports expected to begin by Q319
May, 17 2019
Shell Eclipses ExxonMobil Once Again

The world’s largest oil & gas companies have generally reported a mixed set of results in Q1 2019. Industry turmoil over new US sanctions on Venezuela, production woes in Canada and the ebb-and-flow between OPEC+’s supply deal and rising American production have created a shaky environment at the start of the year, with more ongoing as the oil world grapples with the removal of waivers on Iranian crude and Iran’s retaliation.

The results were particularly disappointing for ExxonMobil and Chevron, the two US supermajors. Both firms cited weak downstream performance as a drag on their financial performance, with ExxonMobil posting its first loss in its refining business since 2009. Chevron, too, reported a 65% drop in the refining and chemicals profit. Weak refining margins, particularly on gasoline, were blamed for the underperformance, exacerbating a set of weaker upstream numbers impaired by lower crude pricing even though production climbed. ExxonMobil was hit particularly hard, as its net profit fell below Chevron’s for the first time in nine years. Both supermajors did highlight growing output in the American Permian Basin as a future highlight, with ExxonMobil saying it was on track to produce 1 million barrels per day in the Permian by 2024. The Permian is also the focus of Chevron, which agreed to a US$33 billion takeover of Anadarko Petroleum (and its Permian Basin assets), only for the deal to be derailed by a rival bid from Occidental Petroleum with the backing of billionaire investor guru Warren Buffet. Chevron has now decided to opt out of the deal – a development that would put paid to Chevron’s ambitions to match or exceed ExxonMobil in shale.

Performance was better across the pond. Much better, in fact, for Royal Dutch Shell, which provided a positive end to a variable earnings season. Net profit for the Anglo-Dutch firm may have been down 2% y-o-y to US$5.3 billion, but that was still well ahead of even the highest analyst estimates of US$4.52 billion. Weaker refining margins and lower crude prices were cited as a slight drag on performance, but Shell’s acquisition of BG Group is paying dividends as strong natural gas performance contributed to the strong profits. Unlike ExxonMobil and Chevron, Shell has only dipped its toes in the Permian, preferring to maintain a strong global portfolio mixed between oil, gas and shale assets.

For the other European supermajors, BP and Total largely matched earning estimates. BP’s net profits of US$2.36 billion hit the target of analyst estimates. The addition of BHP Group’s US shale oil assets contributed to increased performance, while BP’s downstream performance was surprisingly resilient as its in-house supply and trading arm showed a strong performance – a business division that ExxonMobil lacks. France’s Total also hit the mark of expectations, with US$2.8 billion in net profit as lower crude prices offset the group’s record oil and gas output. Total’s upstream performance has been particularly notable – with start-ups in Angola, Brazil, the UK and Norway – with growth expected at 9% for the year.

All in all, the volatile environment over the first quarter of 2019 has seen some shift among the supermajors. Shell has eclipsed ExxonMobil once again – in both revenue and earnings – while Chevron’s failed bid for Anadarko won’t vault it up the rankings. Almost ten years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP is now reclaiming its place after being overtaken by Total over the past few years. With Q219 looking to be quite volatile as well, brace yourselves for an interesting earnings season.

Supermajor Financials: Q1 2019

  • ExxonMobil – Revenue (US$63.6 million, down 6.7% y-o-y), Net profit (US$2.35 billion, down 49.5% y-o-y)
  • Shell - Revenue (US$85.66 billion, down 5.9% y-o-y), Net profit (US$5.3 billion, down 2% y-o-y)
  • Chevron – Revenue (US$35.19 billion, down 5% y-o-y), Net profit (US$2.65 billion, down 27.2% y-o-y)
  • BP - Revenue (US$67.4 billion, down 2.51% y-o-y), Net profit (US$2.36 billion, down 9.2% y-o-y)
  • Total - Revenue (US$51.2billion, up 3.2% y-o-y), Net profit (US$2.8 billion, down 4.0% y-o-y)
May, 15 2019