Last Updated: March 13, 2017
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Human Resources
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Human Resource (HR) professionals play an important role for the company as an organization is not able to build a good team of working professionals without its own powerful human resources. Their key functions include recruiting people, training them, performance appraisals, motivating employees as well as ensuring workplace safety and etc. As the oil and gas industry is suffering, their decisions will eventually put an ink to one’s future in the company.

It’s a challenging time for all HR in Oil & Gas. The price per barrel is fluctuating, companies are going through re-structuring and people keep going out and rarely coming in. This is the current scenario in the world of oil. Realizing on this matter, the Malaysian Oil & Gas Services Council or known as MOGSC has organized a special and meaningful session of Oil & Gas HR Forum to discuss on how HR Professionals to step up and prepare their organizations for the turbulent journey ahead.

The session was beautifully engaged as they managed to have the honorable Ybhg. Dato’ Raiha Azni Abd Rahman, the Senior Vice President of Human Resource Management of PETRONAS on the 23rd of February 2017 in Impiana Hotel, Kuala Lumpur along with more than 150 attendees. Dato’ Raiha in her keynote speech highlighted that as the industry is now at its low, companies should focus on the training & development for the talent which should be a continuous investment as PETRONAS starts as soon as secondary school. She also mentioned that Malaysia has Top Talents around the world, and the industry should not lose it as they might be the right leaders in future. PRODIGY is one of the programs that PETRONAS did with the collaborations of service providers in Malaysia to train good graduates to cater expectation and demands from the industry, she added.

The session was then continued by the Vice President of MOGSC & also Mentor of Competency & Training Working Group (CTWG), Ir. Megat Zariman Abdul Rahim by giving an overview on how MOGSC’s progress on its 14 years serving the industry. MOGSC is the leading non-profit association and the most-proactive in the mission to promote the development of the Malaysian Oil & Gas Service Sector and also as a regional hub. This year, MOGSC introduced the Oil & Gas Competency Development ROADMAP with the objective to establish MOGSC as oil & gas center of reference for competency and training, and with the hope to fill up the skills gap of talents in Malaysia.

The highlight of this session was the Panel Session: Skills Shortage in Malaysia – A Myth or Reality, chaired by Ir. Megat Zariman Abdul Rahim. The line of impressive panels that we had the other day was Mdm. Shareen Shariza Dato’ Abdul Ghani, CEO, TalentCorp, Mdm. Kartina Abdul Latif, Senior Executive Director, PwC, Mdm. Nelly Francis, General Manager of Education & Learning, PETRONAS, Mr. Syed Azlan Syed Ibrahim, Senior Vice President, MPRC and Mdm. Sharifah Zaida Nurlisha, MOGSC President. It’s the most highlight topic as we encountered a lot of retrenched people and fresh graduates who struggle to find jobs, and surprisingly based on PwC, 350 000 jobs cut happened globally in the Oil & Gas industry as of end 2016.

Are they incompetent to the industry? Previously, Dato’ Raiha also highlighted that Asia has the younger workforce in Oil & Gas as compared to Europe & United States. Unfortunately, because of the skill gap and the downturn, many of the groups as mentioned above left the industry and only very low percentage of them returning. This is an alarming issue to the industry.

During the forum, the chair questioned each of the panels on the main question itself, is it a myth or reality? Mdm. Kartina was the first one to answer and she said it depends on the adaptability of the business. She highlighted that based on PwC research battle for talent –talents & skills shortage, they find out there is need to develop and attract STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and vocational talent to support business demand. Businesses need to understand talent expectations of the talent segments which include both parties in order to build the talent pipeline. Her response was also supported by Mdm. Nelly Francis of PETRONAS and she advised that the industry first need to understand the supply and demand. Employers need to see on the specific details to do the assessment and reliability of their workforce skills. That is where organizations like PETRONAS Leadership Center & MOGSC could play an important role.

Mdm. Sharifah of MOGSC, however had different perspectives; she didn’t see the shortage of skills among Malaysian talents. We have many talents with impressive skills in the industry and there are many training providers and technical training centers which can cater to the industry needs, for example Institut Teknologi PETRONAS (INSTEP). Earlier, the CEO, Mr. Chandramohan also shared the capabilities of INSTEP on simulating the real plant scenarios in a safe environment and not to forget their strong partnerships, alliance with the industry and clients. Mdm. Sharifah also mentioned that, maybe because of the financial restriction of the company limits the skills learning these days. Mr. Syed Azlan from MPRC also claimed that there is no skills shortage in industry. Perhaps, in discussing this matter, he did clarify to put in-depth on what shortage you mean? Surprisingly, there is no one in Malaysia who has specific data on the skills shortage.

On the other hand, the CEO of TalentCorp Malaysia, Mdm. Shareen Shariza coming strong as yes, there is skills shortage in Malaysia especially the high skilled ones. Most of the high-skilled individuals or baby boomers are leaving the industry because they are offered an early retirement package and unfortunately, the middle layers are left hanging as there are no transferring and retention of knowledge and skills. HR will need to understand the availability of talents and significant differences when planning for replacement hires and training requirements. This decisive group will need to understand the succession of business in five, ten, and fifteen years ahead. PwC also highlighted earlier that the most difficult skill to find in Oil & Gas Industry is leadership according to 71% of the CEO’s interviewed. Probably the industry’s top priorities now are the pipeline of leaders of tomorrow and workplace culture to nurture talents.

This alarming issue should be encountered by the HR Group as we go along the hardship journey of Oil & Gas Industry. HR plays a bigger role now more than ever. Organizations need to change their business strategies and modify their human capital strategy accordingly. The talents we have should not be wasted. These newer technologies and the new landscape are causing shifts in skills needed by companies. Perhaps an organization like MOGSC should address to this issues and be a pipeline through a round table and drives the plans with the Government, Industry and Academic Institution. Each of those bodies should understand the framework and demands of this exciting unstable industry of Oil & Gas. Plan ahead for crises and be ready to adapt when you need to.

Oil Gas HR Skills MOGSC Malaysia MPRC PwC TalentCorp
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The New Wave of Renewable Fuels

In 2021, the makeup of renewables has also changed drastically. Technologies such as solar and wind are no longer novel, as is the idea of blending vegetable oils into road fuels or switching to electric-based vehicles. Such ideas are now entrenched and are not considered enough to shift the world into a carbon neutral future. The new wave of renewables focus on converting by-products from other carbon-intensive industries into usable fuels. Research into such technologies has been pioneered in universities and start-ups over the past two decades, but the impetus of global climate goals is now seeing an incredible amount of money being poured into them as oil & gas giants seek to rebalance their portfolios away from pure hydrocarbons with a goal of balancing their total carbon emissions in aggregate to zero.

Traditionally, the European players have led this drive. Which is unsurprising, since the EU has been the most driven in this acceleration. But even the US giants are following suit. In the past year, Chevron has poured an incredible amount of cash and effort in pioneering renewables. Its motives might be less than altruistic, shareholders across America have been particularly vocal about driving this transformation but the net results will be positive for all.

Chevron’s recent efforts have focused on biomethane, through a partnership with global waste solutions company Brightmark. The joint venture Brightmark RNG Holdings operations focused on convert cow manure to renewable natural gas, which are then converted into fuel for long-haul trucks, the very kind that criss-cross the vast highways of the US delivering goods from coast to coast. Launched in October 2020, the joint venture was extended and expanded in August, now encompassing 38 biomethane plants in seven US states, with first production set to begin later in 2021. The targeting of livestock waste is particularly crucial: methane emissions from farms is the second-largest contributor to climate change emissions globally. The technology to capture methane from manure (as well as landfills and other waste sites) has existed for years, but has only recently been commercialised to convert methane emissions from decomposition to useful products.

This is an arena that another supermajor – BP – has also made a recent significant investment in. BP signed a 15-year agreement with CleanBay Renewables to purchase the latter’s renewable natural gas (RNG) to be mixed and sold into select US state markets. Beginning with California, which has one of the strictest fuel standards in the US and provides incentives under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard to reduce carbon intensity – CleanBay’s RNG is derived not from cows, but from poultry. Chicken manure, feathers and bedding are all converted into RNG using anaerobic digesters, providing a carbon intensity that is said to be 95% less than the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of pure fossil fuels and non-conversion of poultry waste matter. BP also has an agreement with Gevo Inc in Iowa to purchase RNG produced from cow manure, also for sale in California.

But road fuels aren’t the only avenue for large-scale embracing of renewables. It could take to the air, literally. After all, the global commercial airline fleet currently stands at over 25,000 aircraft and is expected to grow to over 35,000 by 2030. All those planes will burn a lot of fuel. With the airline industry embracing the idea of AAF (or Alternative Aviation Fuels), developments into renewable jet fuels have been striking, from traditional bio-sources such as palm or soybean oil to advanced organic matter conversion from agricultural waste and manure. Chevron, again, has signed a landmark deal to advance the commercialisation. Together with Delta Airlines and Google, Chevron will be producing a batch of sustainable aviation fuel at its El Segundo refinery in California. Delta will then use the fuel, with Google providing a cloud-based framework to analyse the data. That data will then allow for a transparent analysis into carbon emissions from the use of sustainable aviation fuel, as benchmark for others to follow. The analysis should be able to confirm whether or not the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s estimates that renewable jet fuel can reduce lifecycle carbon intensity by up to 80%. And to strengthen the measure, Delta has pledged to replace 10% of its jet fuel with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

In a parallel, but no less pioneering lane, France’s TotalEnergies has announced that it is developing a 100% renewable fuel for use in motorsports, using bioethanol sourced from residues produced by the French wine industry (among others) at its Feyzin refinery in Lyon. This, it believes, will reduce the racing sports’ carbon emissions by an immediate 65%. The fuel, named Excellium Racing 100, is set to debut at the next season of the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans 2022 race.

But Chevron isn’t done yet. It is also falling back on the long-standing use of vegetable oils blended into US transport fuels by signing a wide-ranging agreement with commodity giant Bunge. Called a ‘farmer-to-fuelling station’ solution, Bunge’s soybean processing facilities in Louisiana and Illinois will be the source of meal and oil that will be converted by Chevron into diesel and jet fuel. With an investment of US$600 million, Chevron will assist Bunge in doubling the combined capacity of both plants by 2024, in line with anticipated increases in the US biofuels blending mandates.

Even ExxonMobil, one of the most reticent of the supermajors to embrace renewables wholesale, is getting in on the action. Its Imperial Oil subsidiary in Canada has announced plans to commercialise renewable diesel at a new facility near Edmonton using plant-based feedstock and hydrogen. The venture does only target the Canadian market – where political will to drive renewable adoption is far higher than in the US – but similar moves have already been adopted by other refiners for the US market, including major investments by Phillips 66 and Valero.

Ultimately, these recent moves are driven out of necessity. This is the way the industry is moving and anyone stubborn enough to ignore it will be left behind. Combined with other major investments driven by European supermajors over the past five years, this wider and wider adoption of renewable can only be better for the planet and, eventually, individual bottom lines. The renewables ball is rolling fast and is only gaining momentum.

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Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$71-73/b, WTI – US$68-70/b
  • Global crude benchmarks have stayed steady, even as OPEC+ sticks to its plans to ease supply quotas against the uncertainty of rising Covid-19 cases worldwide
  • However, the success of vaccination drives has kindled hope that the effect of lockdowns – if any – will be mild, with pockets of demand resurgence in Europe; in China, where there has been a zero-tolerance drive to stamp out Covid outbreaks, fuel consumption is strengthening again, possibly tightening fuel balances in Q4
  • Meanwhile, much of the US Gulf of Mexico crude production remains hampered by the effects of Hurricane Ida, providing a counter-balance on the supply side

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