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Career Development
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Given my experience in the recruitment and oil and gas industries, people often ask me about career progression. Often, the assumption is that jumping from company to company is the most rewarding and lucrative path. My response has been that this is not usually the case: There are certainly times where a change will progress you further and faster, but too much movement can become a liability on your résumé that will take years to correct.

According to the Global Salary Guide 2015 by Hays Oil and Gas, 25.6% of the 45,000 survey respondents indicated they had worked for their current company for 3–5 years, and 16.3% for 6 years or more. As a rule of thumb, employers like to see signs of commitment and deep skill development, which typically means staying in a job for 5 years or more.

There is no clear-cut path that will guarantee a more successful career or one that pays more. Your worth is really determined by what value you bring to the role.

Contract Worker: Enjoy the Flexibility

Traditionally, contractors command a higher rate per unit hour or project as the employer does not have to pay the same overhead as a full-time worker, and benefits from having greater workforce flexibility. Choosing specific contracts can help you develop your expertise, creating demand for your skill set based on your specialty area. For example, niche expertise can help you demand competitive pay rates, particularly in areas where there are skills shortages. However, before committing to this path, there are a few things to consider to ensure your career progresses in a manner and at a rate that is going to help you achieve your career goals.

If your objective is to become a subject matter expert, then taking many contracts may be the right path for you. Contracts can provide you with the flexibility to choose exactly what you want to work on, including the location and duration. The trick is to ensure you are choosing contracts based not solely on salary, but that you are creating an asset which you can monetize in the future.

“For a younger person, I think contracting is going to expose you to a much broader range of experiences and potentially make you more valuable to future employers,” says Robert Frow, asset project manager, currently on assignment at a global exploration and production company. Frow has more than 40 years’ experience working in the industry and has spent most of his career on contract project assignments. Frow started with a full-time role as a piping designer and has steadily grown a successful career in project management. Whether it is working on a particular project with a new technology or for a target organization, Frow recommends having a plan of knowing what skills and experiences you need to add value to your résumé and to continue to keep your expertise in demand. Depending on your goals, and if the opportunities are available, aim to select contracts that can help you develop your skills alongside changing market needs, employers’ demands, and industry trends and developments.

Of course, this is often easier said than done due to changes in the industry’s skill requirements as well as economic cycles. The one rule that always applies is to leave each assignment with a positive recommendation, as this industry is small and your reputation for delivering on your promises is your key asset. 

Tenure: Be Rewarded for Loyalty

Another option is working full time for a company over a long period. Tenure can carry a certain amount of prestige and potentially open up opportunities for career advancement and financial gain.

Julian (Jay) B. Haskell, president and chief executive officer of Absolute Completion Technologies, has more than 30 years of domestic and international experience. Haskell has built his industry career with more than 25 years’ experience at Schlumberger, where he held numerous management and technical positions. This provided him with a solid base of business management skills that he still uses while contributing to the successful and continued growth of Absolute.

Haskell believes that “working for the large companies frst is the best training environment, and is key to obtaining a solid foundation in the industry.” Although the career path is usually well established, a variety of career options can be found that will assist you in developing a wide range of experiences.

Large companies often provide the opportunity to work on international assignments. This provides exposure to a variety of cultures and logistical challenges. The experience can be valuable in personal development and provide insight in becoming a leader. Haskell recommends evaluating your standing and advancement after 5 years, and if you find yourself not progressing at the pace you had intended to, then contemplate making a change.

Working for a small to mid-size company, Haskell believes, will provide better exposure to more areas of the organization, which diversifies your skills and expertise. He strongly feels that it is very important to work in cross disciplines in order to understand the big picture. However, should you choose to focus on a specific discipline, this could lead you to becoming a subject matter expert.

Increasing tenure can also lead to increasing benefits. Vacation days, share options, and retirement benefits can be tied to how long you have worked with the business, as can bonuses and perks. Training and professional development are often available only to full-time workers.

It is important to note that the grass is not always greener on the other side. A 2012 survey by Future Workplace (PDF) found that it has been more common for Generation Y workers (also known as millennials) to leave a company after a shorter period of time. However, it is important to make sure that you are leaving for the right reasons. Ask yourself whether you have exhausted all the avenues with your current employer. Have a candid conversation with your boss about what your options are based on your career goals and what you have to do to get to where you want to be. Switching jobs can be risky as you could weaken your résumé if you switch too often. The next role might not be the right ft or could make you vulnerable during industry downturns.

The expectation should not be that the perfect role will fall into your lap, as sometimes you have to prove yourself before attaining the job you want. If regular change and variety is important to you, look for opportunities that offer workplace flexibility, project-based work, or organizations that have sites nationally or globally. If you have itchy feet, these types of companies may have more opportunities for you to explore.

Job Hopping: Find Your Niche

There is a growing belief, especially among younger generations, that having experience working for multiple employers is beneficial. Generation Y, in particular, has a reputation of job hopping—joining a company on a permanent basis, only to leave within 1-2 years (according to the Future Workplace survey). The idea is that this can help expedite your salary increments and increase your knowledge base. While this may be true, this may also generate a negative stigma of not being loyal or committed to any one company.

Landing a new job at a different company can mean an instant salary boost, but it is not guaranteed, particularly when you take the additional risk into account. For example, a job with added responsibility or more demanding work usually comes with a higher salary, but lateral moves rarely provide a significant increase except in times of great demand. If looking to make a move, make sure to target positions in a company with the right cultural ft, which will develop your skills, provide a new challenge, and offer an opportunity for learning, as this is more likely to advance your career in the long term.

The benefits of working for multiple organizations are the different perspectives and holistic view you can develop of the industry. This is also a great way to explore different discipline areas before narrowing in on what you want to do long term. Spending time with a variety of teams can also give you an insight into different company cultures and which is best suited to your working style and preferences.

Whichever path you choose, great salary increases are not often automatically handed out. You will have to prove your worth by bringing the right skills, and attitude, to the table. The most important thing you can do to advance your career is to deliver on your promises and make sure that each employer regrets to see you leave. 

John Faraguna is president of Hays Americas, and global managing director of Hays Oil and Gas. Previously, he has served as president of Xansa North America at Steria UK Corporate. Faraguna joined Xansa in November 2002 from Halliburton, where he served as the president of Grand Basin. He has also held several US-based executive positions with Top Tier Software, Baker Hughes, Arthur Andersen Consulting, and Western Atlas. Faraguna holds a BS in geology and geophysics from Yale University, an MS in geology from the University of Houston, and an MBA from Stanford University.

The Way Ahead is generated by SPE young professional members. TWA editors for this article are Harshad Dixit, Alex Hali, Rodrigo Terrazas, and Avi Aggarwal. For more, visit TWA.

The original article can be found here

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[Media Partner Content] Recognising innovation in transforming the world’s oil and gas industry

The 9th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) Awards, hosted by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), is now open for submissions.

In this fourth industrial age it is technology, innovation, environmental leadership and talented workforces that are shaping the companies of the future.

Oil and gas is set to play a pivotal role in driving technology forward, and at this year’s ADIPEC Awards emphasis is placed on digitalisation, research, transformation, diversity, youth and social contribution, paving the way towards a brighter tomorrow for our industry.

Hosting the ADIPEC Awards is one of the world’s leading energy producers, ADNOC, a company exploring new, agile and flexible ways to build its people, technology, environmental leadership and partnerships, while enhancing the role of the United Arab Emirates as a global energy provider.

Factors which will have a prominent influence on the eventual decisions of the distinguished panel of jury members include industry impact, sustainability, innovation and value creation. Jury members have been carefully selected according to their expertise and knowledge, and include senior representatives from Baker Hughes, a GE Company, BP UAE, CEPSA Middle East, ENI Spa, Mubadala Petroleum, Shell, Total and Weatherford.

Chairperson of the awards is Fatema Al Nuaimi, Acting CEO of ADNOC LNG, who says: “At a time when the industry is looking towards an extremely exciting future and preparing for Oil &Gas 4.0, the awards will recognise excellence across all its sectors and reward those who are paving the way towards a successful and sustainable future.”

Ms Al Nuaimi, continues: “we call upon our partners across the globe to submit their achievements in projects and partnerships which are at the helm of technical and digital breakthroughs, as well as to nominate the next generation of oil and gas technical professionals, who will spearhead the ongoing transformation of the industry.

These awards are recognising the successes of those companies and individuals who are responding in the most innovative and creative manner to the global economic and technological trends. Their contribution is pivotal to the development of our industry and to addressing the continuous growth of the global energy demand. “

Christopher Hudson, President of the Energy Division, dmg events, organisers of ADIPEC, says: “With ADNOC as the host and ADIPEC as the platform for the programme, the awards are at the heart of the worldwide oil and gas community. With its audience of government ministers, international and national oil companies, CEOs and other top global industry influencers, the ADIPEC Awards provide the global oil and gas community the perfect opportunity to engage, inspire and influence the workforce of the future.”

Entries can be submitted until Monday 29th July for the following categories:

Breakthrough Technological Project of the Year

Breakthrough Research of the Year

Digital Transformation Project of the Year

Social Contribution and Local Content Project of the Year

Oil and Gas Inclusion and Diversity Company of the Year

Young ADIPEC Technical Professional of the Year

A shortlist of entries will be announced in October and winners will be revealed on the first day of ADIPEC 2019, Monday 11th November, St. Regis Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi.


ABOUT ADIPEC

Held under the patronage of the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and organised by the Global Energy Division of dmg events, the Abu Dhabi Petroleum International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) is the global meeting point for oil and gas professionals. Standing as one of the world’s leading oil and gas events.  ADIPEC is a knowledge-sharing platform that enables industry experts to exchange ideas and information that shape the future of the energy sector. The 22nd edition of ADIPEC will take place from 11th-14th November 2019, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). ADIPEC 2019 will be hosted by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and supported by the UAE Ministry of Energy & Industry, Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK). dmg events is committed to helping the growing international energy community.

June, 24 2019
TODAY IN ENERGY: Energy products are key inputs to global chemicals industry

chemicals industry inputs

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on World Input-Output Database
Note: Dollar values are expressed in 2010 U.S. dollars, converted based on purchasing power parity.

The industrial sector of the worldwide economy consumed more than half (55%) of all delivered energy in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency. Within the industrial sector, the chemicals industry is one of the largest energy users, accounting for 12% of global industrial energy use. Energy—whether purchased or produced onsite at plants—is very important to the chemicals industry, and it links the chemical industry to many parts of the energy supply chain including utilities, mines, and other energy product manufacturers.

The chemicals industry is often divided into two major categories: basic chemicals and other chemicals. Basic chemicals are chemicals that are the essential building blocks for other products. These include raw material gases, pigments, fertilizers, plastics, and rubber. Basic chemicals are sometimes called bulk chemicals or commodity chemicals because they are produced in large amounts and have relatively low prices. Other chemicals—sometimes called fine or specialty chemicals—require less energy to produce and sell for much higher prices. The category of other chemicals includes medicines, soaps, and paints.

The chemicals industry uses energy products such as natural gas for both heat and feedstock. Basic chemicals are often made in large factories that use a variety of energy sources to produce heat, much of which is for steam, and for equipment, such as pumps. The largest feedstock use is for producing petrochemicals, which can use oil-based or natural-gas-based feedstocks.

In terms of value, households are the largest users of chemicals because they use higher value chemicals, which are often chemicals that help to improve standards of living, such as medicines or sanitation products. Chemicals are also often intermediate goods—materials used in the production of other products, such as rubber and plastic products manufacturing, agricultural production, construction, and textiles and apparel making.

basic chemicals industry energy intensity in select regions

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, WEPS+, August 2018
Note: Dollar values are expressed in 2010 U.S. dollars, converted based on purchasing power parity.

The energy intensity of the basic chemicals industry, or energy consumed per unit of output, is relatively high compared with other industries. However, the energy intensity of the basic chemicals industry varies widely by region, largely based on the chemicals a region produces. According to EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2018, Russia had the most energy-intensive basic chemicals industry in 2015, with an average energy intensity of approximately 98,000 British thermal units (Btu) per dollar, followed by Canada with an average intensity of 68,000 Btu/dollar.

The Russian and Canadian basic chemicals industries are led by fertilizers and petrochemicals. Petrochemicals and fertilizers are the most energy intensive basic chemicals, all of which rely on energy for breaking chemical bonds and affecting the recombination of molecules to create the intended chemical output. These countries produce these specific basic chemicals in part because they also produce the natural resources needed as inputs, such as potash, oil, and natural gas.

By comparison, the energy intensity of the U.S. basic chemical industry in 2015 was much lower, at 22,000 Btu/dollar, because the industry in the United States has a more diverse production mix of other basic chemicals, such as gases and synthetic fibers. However, EIA expects that increasing petrochemical development in the United States will increase the energy intensity of the U.S. basic chemicals industry.

The United States exports chemicals worldwide, with the largest flows to Mexico, Canada, and China. According to the World Input-Output Database, U.S. exports of all chemicals in 2014 were valued at $118 billion—about 6% of total U.S. exports—the highest level in decades.

June, 24 2019
The Winds of War and Oil Markets

The threat of military action in the Middle East has gotten more intense this week. After several attacks on tankers that could be plausibly denied, Iran has made its first direct attack on a US asset, shooting down an unmanned US drone. The Americans say the drone was in international waters, while Iran claims that it had entered Iranian air space. Reports emerging out of the White House state the US President Donald Trump had authorised a military strike in response, but pulled back at the last minute. The simmering tensions between the two countries are now reaching boiling point, with Iran declaring that it is ‘ready for war’.

Predictably, crude oil prices spiked on the news. Brent and WTI prices rose by almost US$4/b over worries that a full-blown war will threaten global supplies. That this is happening just ahead of the OPEC meeting in Vienna – which was delayed by a week over internal squabbling over dates – places a lot of volatile cards on the table. Far more than more than surging US production, this stand-off will colour the direction of the crude market for the rest of 2019.

It started with an economic war, as the Trump administration placed increasingly tight sanctions on Iran. Financial sanctions came first, then sanctions on crude oil exports from Iran. But the situation was diffused when the US introduced waivers for 8 major importers of Iranian crude in November 2018, calming the markets. Even when the waivers were not renewed in April, the oil markets were still relatively calm, banking on the fact that Iran’s fellow OPEC countries would step in to the fill the gap. Most of Iran’s main clients – like South Korea, Japan and China – had already begun winding down their purchases in March, reportedly causing Iran’s crude exports to fall from 2 mmb/d to 400 kb/d. And just recently, the US also begun targeting Iranian petrochemical exports. Between a rock and a hard place, Iran looks seems forced to make good on its threats to go to war in the strategic Straits of Hormuz.

As the waivers ended, four tankers were attacked off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE in May. The immediate assumption was that these attacks were backed by Iran. Then, just a week ago, another two tankers were attacked, with the Americans showing video evidence reportedly show Iranian agents removing mines. But still, there was no direct connection to Iran for the attacks, even as the US and Iran traded diplomatic barbs. But the downing of the drone is unequivocally the work of the Iranian military. With President Donald Trump reportedly ‘bored’ of attempting regime change in Venezuela and his ultra-hawkish staff Mike Pompeo and John Bolton in the driver’s seat, military confrontation now seems inevitable.

This, predictably, has the oil world very nervous. Not just because the extension of the current OPEC+ deal could be scuppered, but because war will impact more than just Iranian oil. The safety of the Straits of Hormuz is in jeopardy, a key node in global oil supply through which almost 20 mmb/d of oil from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE flows along with LNG exports from the current world’s largest producer, Qatar. At its narrowest, the chokepoint in the Straits is just 50km from Iranian land. Crude exports could be routed south to Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but there is risk there too; the mouth of the Red Sea is where Iranian-backed Yemeni rebels are active, who have already started attacking Saudi land facilities.

This will add a considerable war risk premium to global crude prices, just as it did during the 1990 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But more than just prices, the destabilising effects of a war could consume more than just the price of a barrel. If things are heading the way the current war-like signs are heading, then the oil world is in for a very major change very soon.

Historical crude price responses to wars in the Middle East

  • 1973: Yim Kippur War – oil prices quadrupled from US$3/b to US$12/b
  • 1990: Iraq invasion of Kuwait/Gulf War – oil prices doubled from US$17/b to US$36/b
  • 2003: US invasion of Iraq – oil prices rose from US$30/b to US$40/b
June, 21 2019