Alahdal A. Hussein

Petroleum Engineer / Founder at Oil Industry Insight
Last Updated: February 1, 2017
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Career Development
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As the rally in oil prices continues to drive oil prices toward $60/bbl due to the support from OPEC and non-OPEC oil deal, many people may start to think that the good old days of high oil prices will be back soon. And that means, more spending, higher salaries, more jobs and less suffering. To those people I say, don't be excited, it may get worse before it gets better.

The last two years have been pivotal to the oil and gas industry. Many things were redefined; $50/bbl is the new $100/bbl, USA is the new swing producer in the making and it will play a critical role in keep oil prices low, competition for market share is no longer among conventional oil producers only, unconventional resource producers are now in the game and their presence will continue to grow with time. All these changes tell us something that is, the oil industry is evolving and what is after 2014 will never be the same as what was before 2014.

If the oil industry is changing in such a fast pace, how about you? Are you changing as well, or are you just staying the same and expecting old strategies to bring you better result in such a changing industry. Because if you are doing that, I promise you, you will be out of the oil industry before you even know it.

In this article, I will share with you three skills that you need in order to mitigate the current changes in the oil industry. These skills will help you overcome the challenges arising from the current low oil price reality and whatever bad events that might happen in the future.

1- Adaptability


One of the main reasons that resulted in many companies going out of business and filing for bankruptcy in the last two years is the fact that they could not adapt to the new reality of low oil prices.Whether youare a business owner,an employee, or someone who is planning to join the oil industry, you should understand that adaptability is an important factor for your survival and success in the oil industry. Why adaptability is important in the oil and gas industry? Here are two reasons;

1- The oil and gas industry is a fast-changing industry

The change in the oil industry is not only driven by rapid changes in technology, new types of resources and the new challenges associated with it, but it is also driven by unexpected events and changes in geopolitics which could turn the oil industry up-side-down just like what happened back in 2014. To survive in such an ever-changing industry, you need to be flexible and agile. You need to be able to accept changes, stay clam and confident, adapt, plan and respond fast to these changes.

2- Adaptability is key to survival and success in your career

Adaptability is an important quality that employers in fast-changing industries such as the oil industry seek to have in their employees. Take a look at the jobs' requirements of many oil and gas companies, you will find that adaptability is one of their top requirements. Schlumberger is one example. For other companies, even if it is not written there in their website, they expect you to have it.

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One of the job requirement as shown in Schlumberger's website

The nature of work in the oil industry requires you to be adaptable. You will work in different projects, with different teams and different challenges every time. Adding to these challenges, projects that you will be working on will have tight deadlines which makes it even more important to be able to adapt fast. To become successful in your career and to meet exceptions, you need to be open to new ideas, flexible to work in challenging issues, and you need to be able to cope when things don't go as planned.

2- Managing Change


Change management is the second most important skill after adaptability. Why? Because, for you to adapt, you need to change. In other words, you can't adapt to the changes around you if you don't change. But it seems that change is not easy. This is why we see many people are left behind when they are faced with difficulties and hardships. Most of the time, we all face the same problems and same challenges, so why do some people seem to be unable to change a simple thing in their life, while others seem to sail smoothly through the changes they face in their life?

The answer is very simple. Change itself is not hard, in fact, it is easy. What is hard is accepting the uncertainty associated with change. What makes the change hard is how we view it, how we manage it, and how we cope with its uncertainty. As human, what is most stressful and challenging for us is the uncertainty associated with the change not the change itself. And there is where we waste most of our time.

When a bad event takes place in our life, the cycle of our reactions goes as follows. We first go through the denial stage in which we deny what is happening. Then we enter the second stage which is the anger stage. In this stage our confidence is down and we feel angry because we keep thinking about the negative consequences of the change. After sometime, we enter the exploration stage where we try to explore new direction. Then comes the acceptance stage where we finally accept what happened and seek encouragement to move on and change.

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The Change Curve

Anyone who faces change as a result of bad events, he/she will go through the full curve of change above. The only difference between those who manage to change fast and adapt and those who are left behind is how long it takes them to go through each stage of the change curve. Many of us get stuck in the first or second stage of the change curve for a long time and there is where troubles happen and we become unable to adapt and therefore get left behind and fail.

For example, when the layoff wave took place in the past two years due to the downturn in the oil and gas industry, many of those who were laid off failed to react fast to the change they were facing. They didn't believe it at first, and many of them spent one and a half year waiting for things to get better, but it didn't. It only got worse. Many of those who were laid off didn't take the decision to move on, to learn new skills, to change their career path or even to work in other industries because they didn't believe what was happening. They kept waiting with a hope that things will change fast instead of changing themselves. And many ended up wasting their time and some still do.

How to manage change?

Being able to manage change effectively will prevent you from wasting your time on things you will regret later in life. It will help you to overcome difficult situtaions that you might face in the future. It will also help you to stay ahead of the competition and here is how you can do it:

1- Embrace change


How to embrace the change? Don't waste your time worrying about things that you can't change. Instead, spend that time thinking about the the things you can change and how you want to change them. It is hard to let go of worries, but ask yourself one question. What is the point of getting stressed over thing you can't change? Does your worry change anything? If it does not, then stop it.


2- Plan to change the things you can and do it fast

Once you let go of your worries and stress over things you can't change, then start planning to change the things you can change. Be realistic, and stop worrying about uncertainty. It is only fear in our minds, it does not exist. Plan your change and do it fast.

3- Marketing and branding yourself


The recent changes in the oil industry has resulted in many oil and gas companies cutting their spending to weather the effects of low oil prices. One way to achieve that is by reducing the number of their workforce through layoffs and slowing down recruitment activities. That means, there is a high demand for jobs, but the supply is too low and this in turn created a downturn in recruitment activities and the consequence is a high competition for less jobs. In such an environment, the question is always about how to stand out of the crowd and secure the job you want or keep the one you have and avoid being laid off.

There are many things you can do to stand out of the crowd such as writing irresistible CV and cover-letter, educating yourself and staying up-to-date with the industry events, developments and new technologies, connecting with people in the industry, building relationships, having professional memberships and volunteering in activities and events to gain experience. All these things will add value to you and help you stand out, but what is the point of doing all these things if you can't show them to your potential employers. It is like having a great product and the worst marketing strategy, you end up selling nothing.

What is the point of doing all these things if you don't use them to sell yourself, market your skills and competencies and create a brand for yourself. By marketing and branding here, I don't mean doing that on CV, because no matter how good is your CV, you only send it to few companies and due to the high number of applications as a result of the high rate of unemployment, the chances of your CV getting noticed is too low. What I am talking about here is the online marketing and branding.

For me, online marketing and branding is the best type of branding, because you only have to work hard on it for one time and it will continue to promote you even when you are sleeping. It will even promote you to companies you never knew and others whom you never thought of sending your application over to them. That is the power of online marketing and branding.

How to market and brand yourself?

1- The first steps

The first steps are the initial steps that you should go through in order to develop a strong personal brand. These steps involve defining youroverall aspirations, conducting research, defining your brand attributes, assessing your current state and creating your branding plan.These are the initial steps that you should go through to get you started. Here is agreat article by Lisa Quast on Forbes which will walk you through these steps in more details.

2- Select a platform

Once you are done with the first steps, it is time to find the platform where you will be doing all the branding. To brand yourself, you need a platform, and since you are in the oil industry, you need a platform that is fully dedicated for oil and gas professionals. One of the choices you have is NrgEdge. It is a new oil and gas professional platform, dedicated to oil and gas professionals, and it has many features to help you brand yourself. Other platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms are also a good place to start. In the coming days, I will share an article explaining how to brand yourself in social media based on my personal experience, stay tuned.

3- Continue to Improve

Marketing and branding is not a one time job. Things change and improve, and you too. You will cultivate new skills and gain new experiences. When that happens, you need to update your online profiles. Allocate a time every month to check your online profiles for improvement and updates. As you grow and improve, you will find things to improve.

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Latest NrgBuzz

Your Weekly Update: 9 - 13 September 2019

Market Watch  

Headline crude prices for the week beginning 9 September 2019 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$56/b

  • Hope reigns as the market banks on signs that the US and China could reach a trade deal would eliminate one of the largest risks to current oil prices: a full-blown global recession
  • However, this is merely the latest in a series of dashed hopes that has seen the trade war between the US and China – using tariffs as weapons – escalate dramatically over the year; new tariffs entered play September 1 and more could come, with both sides already feeling the pinch
  • But crude prices did get a lift from EIA data showing that US crude stockpiles fell far more than expected, down by 4.8 million barrels to its lowest level since October 2018 – an indication of strong demand, with US refinery utilisation at 94.8%
  • However, there are fissures appearing on the supply side that could trigger some risk premiums; in Venezuela, the upstream crisis continues with the latest blow being a Chinese contractor halting work over claims over non payment
  • More importantly, Saudi Oil Minister – or rather former Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih – was dismissed from the government; after initial reports suggested that al-Falih would focus on energy policy after the oil ministry was split, a royal decree issued days later confirmed his sacking
  • Saudi Arabia and its allies have been at pains to re-assure the market that the dismissal of al-Falih – who is respected around the world – will not impact Saudi production or the current OPEC+ supply pact
  • This will be confirmed at the upcoming OPEC+ meeting this week, which will be the first under Saudi Arabia’s new Energy Minister, one of the King’s sons Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman
  • Against this backdrop of turmoil, the active US rig count fell yet again; after two weeks of double-digit losses, US drillers lost four oil and two gas rigs, with losses seen once again in the Permian
  • Power moves within Saudi Arabia may have sent some tremors to the market, but it is likely that OPEC+ will stick to its commitments; with no signs that the US and China were doing anymore more than talking about talking, crude prices will remain rangebound – US$59-61/b for Brent and US$54-56/b for WTI

Headlines of the week

Upstream

  • Total has suspended plans for the US$3.5 billion crude export pipeline that would connect Ugandan oilfield to port facilities in Tanzania after a failure to buy a stake in Tullow Oil’s upstream assets in Uganda linked to tax negotiations; this will require a complete restart for the Uganda project
  • With other supermajors pulling out, Total remains committed to the North Sea, with CEO Patrick Pouyanne looking to invest up to US$10 billion over the next five years but cautions that Total maintain strict cost discipline
  • The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has consented to the startup of the giant Johan Sverdrup field, a potential 660,000 b/d resource that has been called the North Sea’s ‘last hurrah’
  • Permian-focused player Concho Resource has agreed to sell its assets in the New Mexico Shelf to Spur Energy Partners for US$925 million, continuing a wave of consolidation in the US shale arena
  • Shell has announced plans to start drilling in the offshore Saturno field in Brazil, becoming one of the first private players tapping the pre-salt Santos Basin

Midstream/Downstream

  • Sinopec’s new 160 kb/d Yangzi refinery has begun production of Europe-standard gasoline, providing an outlet for Chinese fuel products amid a domestic glut that has seen refiners look overseas for sales
  • Petrobras is extending the deadline for interested parties for its four refineries on sale from September 16 to September 27, citing high investor interest for the refining assets that represent 37% of Brazilian capacity
  • Saudi Aramco continues its downstream push in China, signing an MoU with the Zhejiang Free Trade Zone that could pave the way for further investments beyond current plans to acquire 9% of the Zhejiang Petrochemical refinery
  • Russia’s Sibur will be cutting back LPG exports to Europe to some 2 million tons from a typical 3.5-4 million tons per year, redirecting the LPG to be used as feedstock for its ZapSibNefteKhim petrochemicals plant in Western Siberia

Natural Gas/LNG

  • Months of uncertainty have been put to rest as the government of Papua New Guinea endorsed the US$13 billion Papua LNG project, following some new commitments by project leader Total – primarily on local content
  • Also in PNG, the government has approved Australian independent Twinza Oil’s Pasca gas/condensate project - the country’s first offshore gas project
  • ExxonMobil and its partners have sanctioned plans for the 6.2 mtpa Sakhalin 1 LNG plant on Sakhalin Island in Russia’s far east, with easy access to Japan
  • Argentina’s YPF is pushing ahead with plans to build a US$5 billion LNG export terminal – tapping into the Vaca Muerta shale basin – despite continued domestic political and financial chaos hanging over the project
  • Petronas has agreed to purchase natural gas that is set to produced from the Gorek, Larak and Bakong fields in the SK408 area in Sarawak, jointly operated by SapuraOMV Upstream, Petronas Carigali and Shell
  • Qatar Petroleum has booked 100% of regasification capacity at the Fluxys Zeebrugge LNG terminal until 2044, consolidating Qatar’s hold on one of Northwest Europe’s important gas entry nodes
  • Equinor has brought the Snefrid Nord gas field online, which is the first of several planned projects related to the Aasta Hansteen field to begin production, with an initial output of 4 mcm/d
September, 13 2019
Global gas and LNG outlook to 2035
Expansion in the gas and LNG markets continues, with LNG demand expected to increase 3.6 percent per year to 2035.

Detailed market research and continuous tracking of market developments—as well as deep, on-the-ground expertise across the globe—informs our outlook on global gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG). We forecast gas demand and then use our infrastructure and contract models to forecast supply-and-demand balances, corresponding gas flows, and pricing implications to 2035.

Executive summary

The past year saw the natural-gas market grow at its fastest rate in almost a decade, supported by booming domestic markets in China and the United States and an expanding global gas trade to serve Asian markets. While the pace of growth is set to slow, gas remains the fastest-growing fossil fuel and the only fossil fuel expected to grow beyond 2035.

Global gas: Demand expected to grow 0.9 percent per annum to 2035

While we expect coal demand to peak before 2025 and oil demand to peak around 2033, gas demand will continue to grow until 2035, albeit at a slower rate than seen previously. The power-generation and industrial sectors in Asia and North America and the residential and commercial sectors in Southeast Asia, including China, will drive the expected gas-demand growth. Strong growth from these regions will more than offset the demand declines from the mature gas markets of Europe and Northeast Asia.

Gas supply to meet this demand will come mainly from Africa, China, Russia, and the shale-gas-rich United States. China will double its conventional gas production from 2018 to 2035. Gas production in Europe will decline rapidly.

LNG: Demand expected to grow 3.6 percent per annum to 2035, with market rebalancing expected in 2027–28

We expect LNG demand to outpace overall gas demand as Asian markets rely on more distant supplies, Europe increases its gas-import dependence, and US producers seek overseas markets for their gas (both pipe and LNG). China will be a major driver of LNG-demand growth, as its domestic supply and pipeline flows will be insufficient to meet rising demand. Similarly, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and South Asia will rely on LNG to meet the growing demand to replace declining domestic supplies. We also expect Europe to increase LNG imports to help offset declining domestic supply.

Demand growth by the middle of next decade should balance the excess LNG capacity in the current market and planned capacity additions. We expect that further capacity growth of around 250 billion cubic meters will be necessary to meet demand to 2035.

With growing shale-gas production in the United States, the country is in a position to join Australia and Qatar as a top global LNG exporter. A number of competing US projects represent the long-run marginal LNG-supply capacity.

Key themes uncovered

Over the course of our analysis, we uncovered five key themes to watch for in the global gas market:

  1. Global LNG-price indicators have partially converged with the differentials among Asia, Europe, and the United States, falling to the smallest they have been in longer than a decade.
  2. Asia is leading a third wave of market liberalization after those in the United States and Europe, likely bringing fundamental changes to Asian markets.
  3. Long-term contract-pricing mechanisms are evolving in indexation and slope as gas and oil markets diverge, placing pressure on buyers to reshape their contract portfolios, with up to $15 billion per year at stake.
  4. Substantial new investment is necessary to deliver the infrastructure required to meet demand growth.
  5. Traditional, bilateral business models for LNG are being challenged today, and new business models with an increased focus on commercial and trading capabilities are emerging.
September, 13 2019
LNG – surfing the wave

Challenges in a growing market

Gas looks the best bet of fossil fuels through the energy transition. Coal demand has already peaked while oil has a decade or so of slowing growth before electric vehicles start to make real inroads in transportation. Gas, blessed with lower carbon intensity and ample resource, is set for steady growth through 2040 on our base case projections.

LNG is surfing that wave. The LNG market will more than double in size to over 1000 bcm by 2040, a growth rate eclipsed only by renewables. A niche market not long ago, shipped LNG volumes will exceed global pipeline exports within six years.

The bullish prospects will buoy spirits as industry leaders meet at Gastech, LNG’s annual gathering – held, appropriately and for the first time, in Houston – September 17-19.

Investors are scrambling to grab a piece of the action. We are witnessing a supply boom the scale of which the industry has never experienced before. Around US$240 billion will be spent between 2019 and 2025 on greenfield and brownfield LNG supply projects, backfill and finishing construction for those already underway.

50% to be added to global supply 

In total, these projects will bring another 182 mmtpa to market, adding 50% to global supply. Over 100 mmtpa is from the US alone, most of the rest from Qatar, Russia, Canada, and Mozambique. Still, more capital will be needed to meet demand growth beyond the mid-2020s. But the rapid growth also presents major challenges for sellers and buyers to adapt to changes in the market.

There is a risk of bottlenecks as this new supply arrives on the market. The industry will have to balance sizeable waves of fresh sales volumes with demand growing in fits and starts and across an array of disparate marketplaces – some mature, many fledglings, a good few in between.

Key LNG growth markets face teething problems

India has built three new re-gas terminals, but imports are actually down in 2019. The pipeline network to get the gas to regional consumers has yet to be completed. Pakistan has a gas distribution network serving its northern industrial centres. But the main LNG import terminals are in the south of the country, and the commitment to invest in additional transmission lines taking gas north is fraught with political uncertainty.

China is still wrestling with third-party access and regulation of the pipeline business that is PetroChina’s core asset. Any delay could dull the growth rate in Asia’s LNG hotspot. Europe is at the early stages of replacing its rapidly depleting sources of indigenous piped gas with huge volumes of LNG imports delivered to the coast. Will Europe’s gas market adapt seamlessly to a growing reliance on LNG – especially when tested at extreme winter peaks? Time will tell.

Established business models are changing

The point-to-point business model that has served sellers (and buyers) so well over the last 60 years will be tested by market access and other factors. Buyers facing mounting competition in their domestic market will increasingly demand flexibility on volume and price, and contracts that are diverse in duration and indexation. These traditional suppliers risk leaving value, perhaps a lot of value, on the table.

In the future, sellers need to be more sophisticated. The full toolkit will have a portfolio of LNG, a mixture of equity and third-party contracted gas; a trading capability to optimise on volume and price; and the requisite logistics – access to physical capacity of ships and re-gas terminals to shift LNG to where it’s wanted. Enlightened producers have begun to move to an integrated model, better equipped to meet these demands and capture value through the chain. Pure traders will muscle in too.

Some integrated players will think big picture, LNG becoming central to an energy transition strategy. As Big Oil morphs into Big Energy, LNG will sit alongside a renewables and gas-fired power generation portfolio feeding all the way through to gas and electricity customers.

LNG trumps pipe exports...


  

...as the big suppliers crank up volumes

September, 13 2019