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.
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The vast Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan’s portion of the South Caspian Sea marked several milestones in 2018. It has now produced a cumulative total of 100 billion cubic metres of natural gas since the field started up in 2006, with daily output reaching a new peak, growing by 12.5% y-o-y. At a cost of US$28 billion, Shah Deniz – with its estimated 1.2 trillion cubic metres of gas resources – has proven to be an unparalleled success, being a founding link of Europe’s Southern Gas Corridor and coming in relatively on budget and on time. And now BP, along with its partners, is hoping to replicate that success with an ambitious exploration schedule over the next two years.
Four new exploration wells in three blocks, along with a seismic survey of a fourth, are planned for 2019 and an additional three wells in 2020. The aggressive programme is aimed at confirming a long-held belief by BP and SOCAR there are more significant pockets of gas swirling around the area. The first exploratory well is targeting the Shafag-Asiman block, where initial seismic surveys suggest natural gas reserves of some 500 billion cubic metres; if confirmed, that would make it the second-largest gas field ever discovered in the Caspian, behind only Shah Deniz. BP also suspects that Shah Deniz itself could be bigger than expected – the company has long predicted the existence of a second, deeper reservoir below the existing field, and a ‘further assessment’ is planned for 2020 to get to the bottom of the case, so to speak.
Two wells are planned to be drilled in the Shallow Water Absheron Peninsula (SWAP) block, some 30km southeast of Baku, where BP operates in equal partnership with SOCAR, with an additional well planned for 2020. The goal at SWAP is light crude oil, as is a seismic survey in the deepwater Caspian Sea Block D230 where a ‘significant amount’ of oil is expected. Exploration in the onshore Gobustan block, an inland field 50km north of Baku, rounds up BP’s upstream programme and the company expects that at least one seven wells of these will yield a bonanza that will take Azerbaijan’s reserves well into the middle of the century.
Developments in the Caspian are key, as it is the starting node of the Southern Gas Corridor – meant to deliver gas to Europe. Shah Deniz gas currently makes its way to Turkey via the South Caucasus Gas pipeline and exports onwards to Europe should begin when the US$8.5 billion, 32 bcm/y Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) starts service in 2020. Planned output from Azerbaijan currently only fills half of the TANAP capacity, meaning there is room for plenty more gas, if BP can find it. From Turkey, Azeri gas will link up to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline in Greece and connect into Turkey, potentially joined by other pipelines projects that are planned to link up with gas production in Israel. This alternate source of natural gas for Europe is crucial, particularly since political will to push through the Nordstream-2 pipeline connecting Russian gas to Germany is slackening. The demand is there and so is the infrastructure. And now BP will be spending the next two years trying to prove that the supply exists underneath Azerbaijan.
BP’s upcoming planned exploration in the Caspian:
When it was first announced in 2012, there was scepticism about whether or not Petronas’ RAPID refinery in Johor was destined for reality or cancellation. It came at a time when the refining industry saw multiple ambitious, sometimes unpractical, projects announced. At that point, Petronas – though one of the most respected state oil firms – was still seen as more of an upstream player internationally. Its downstream forays were largely confined to its home base Malaysia and specialty chemicals, as well as a surprising venture into South African through Engen. Its refineries, too, were relatively small. So the announcement that Petronas was planning essentially, its own Jamnagar, promoted some pessimism. Could it succeed?
It has. The RAPID refinery – part of a larger plan to turn the Pengerang district in southern Johor into an oil refining and storage hub capitalising on linkages with Singapore – received its first cargo of crude oil for testing in September 2018. Mechanical completion was achieved on November 29 and all critical units have begun commissioning ahead of the expected firing up of RAPID’s 300 kb/d CDU later this month. A second cargo of 2 million barrels of Saudi crude arrived at RAPID last week. It seems like it’s all systems go for RAPID. But it wasn’t always so clear cut. Financing difficulties – and the 2015 crude oil price crash – put the US$27 billion project on shaky ground for a while, and it was only when Saudi Aramco swooped in to purchase a US$7 billion stake in the project that it started coalescing. Petronas had been courting Aramco since the start of the project, mainly as a crude provider, but having the Saudi giant on board was the final step towards FID. It guaranteed a stable supply of crude for Petronas; and for Aramco, RAPID gave it a foothold in a major global refining hub area as part of its strategy to expand downstream.
But RAPID will be entering into a market quite different than when it was first announced. In 2012, demand for fuel products was concentrated on light distillates; in 2019, that focus has changed. Impending new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations are requiring shippers to switch from burning cheap (and dirty) fuel oil to using cleaner middle distillate gasoils. This plays well into complex refineries like RAPID, specialising in cracking heavy and medium Arabian crude into valuable products. But the issue is that Asia and the rest of the world is currently swamped with gasoline. A whole host of new Asian refineries – the latest being the 200 kb/d Nghi Son in Vietnam – have contributed to growing volumes of gasoline with no home in Asia. Gasoline refining margins in Singapore have taken a hit, falling into negative territory for the first time in seven years. Adding RAPID to the equation places more pressure on gasoline margins, even though margins for middle distillates are still very healthy. And with three other large Asian refinery projects scheduled to come online in 2019 – one in Brunei and two in China – that glut will only grow.
The safety valve for RAPID (and indeed the other refineries due this year) is that they have been planned with deep petrochemicals integration, using naphtha produced from the refinery portion. RAPID itself is planned to have capacity of 3 million tpa of ethylene, propylene and other olefins – still a lucrative market that justifies the mega-investment. But it will be at least two years before RAPID’s petrochemicals portion will be ready to start up, and when it does, it’ll face the same set of challenging circumstances as refineries like Hengli’s 400 kb/d Dalian Changxing plant also bring online their petchem operations. But that is a problem for the future and for now, RAPID is first out of the gate into reality. It won’t be entering in a bonanza fuels market as predicted in 2012, but there is still space in the market for RAPID – and a few other like in – at least for now.
RAPID Refinery Factsheet:
Tyre market in Bangladesh is forecasted to grow at over 9% until 2020 on the back of growth in automobile sales, advancements in public infrastructure, and development-seeking government policies.
The government has emphasized on the road infrastructure of the country, which has been instrumental in driving vehicle sales in the country.
The tyre market reached Tk 4,750 crore last year, up from about Tk 4,000 crore in 2017, according to market insiders.
The commercial vehicle tyre segment dominates this industry with around 80% of the market share. At least 1.5 lakh pieces of tyres in the segment were sold in 2018.
In the commercial vehicle tyre segment, the MRF's market share is 30%. Apollo controls 5% of the segment, Birla 10%, CEAT 3%, and Hankook 1%. The rest 51% is controlled by non-branded Chinese tyres.
However, Bangladesh mostly lacks in tyre manufacturing setups, which leads to tyre imports from other countries as the only feasible option to meet the demand. The company largely imports tyre from China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan.
Automobile and tyre sales in Bangladesh are expected to grow with the rising in purchasing power of people as well as growing investments and joint ventures of foreign market players. The country might become the exporting destination for global tyre manufacturers.
Several global tyre giants have also expressed interest in making significant investments by setting up their manufacturing units in the country.
This reflects an opportunity for local companies to set up an indigenous manufacturing base in Bangladesh and also enables foreign players to set up their localized production facilities to capture a significant market.
It can be said that, the rise in automobile sales, improvement in public infrastructure, and growth in purchasing power to drive the tyre market over the next five years.