Mohd Anas Asalem

Regional Strategic Partnerships Manager @ NrgEdge
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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Average U.S. construction costs for solar and wind generation continue to fall

According to 2018 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for newly constructed utility-scale electric generators in the United States, annual capacity-weighted average construction costs for solar photovoltaic systems and onshore wind turbines have continued to decrease. Natural gas generator costs also decreased slightly in 2018.

From 2013 to 2018, costs for solar fell 50%, costs for wind fell 27%, and costs for natural gas fell 13%. Together, these three generation technologies accounted for more than 98% of total capacity added to the electricity grid in the United States in 2018. Investment in U.S. electric-generating capacity in 2018 increased by 9.3% from 2017, driven by natural gas capacity additions.

Solar
The average construction cost for solar photovoltaic generators is higher than wind and natural gas generators on a dollar-per-kilowatt basis, although the gap is narrowing as the cost of solar falls rapidly. From 2017 to 2018, the average construction cost of solar in the United States fell 21% to $1,848 per kilowatt (kW). The decrease was driven by falling costs for crystalline silicon fixed-tilt panels, which were at their lowest average construction cost of $1,767 per kW in 2018.

Crystalline silicon fixed-tilt panels—which accounted for more than one-third of the solar capacity added in the United States in 2018, at 1.7 gigawatts (GW)—had the second-highest share of solar capacity additions by technology. Crystalline silicon axis-based tracking panels had the highest share, with 2.0 GW (41% of total solar capacity additions) of added generating capacity at an average cost of $1,834 per kW.

average construction costs for solar photovoltaic electricity generators

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Generator Construction Costs and Annual Electric Generator Inventory

Wind
Total U.S. wind capacity additions increased 18% from 2017 to 2018 as the average construction cost for wind turbines dropped 16% to $1,382 per kW. All wind farm size classes had lower average construction costs in 2018. The largest decreases were at wind farms with 1 megawatt (MW) to 25 MW of capacity; construction costs at these farms decreased by 22.6% to $1,790 per kW.

average construction costs for wind farms

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Generator Construction Costs and Annual Electric Generator Inventory

Natural gas
Compared with other generation technologies, natural gas technologies received the highest U.S. investment in 2018, accounting for 46% of total capacity additions for all energy sources. Growth in natural gas electric-generating capacity was led by significant additions in new capacity from combined-cycle facilities, which almost doubled the previous year’s additions for that technology. Combined-cycle technology construction costs dropped by 4% in 2018 to $858 per kW.

average construction costs for natural gas-fired electricity generators

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Generator Construction Costs and Annual Electric Generator Inventory

September, 17 2020
Fossil fuels account for the largest share of U.S. energy production and consumption

Fossil fuels, or energy sources formed in the Earth’s crust from decayed organic material, including petroleum, natural gas, and coal, continue to account for the largest share of energy production and consumption in the United States. In 2019, 80% of domestic energy production was from fossil fuels, and 80% of domestic energy consumption originated from fossil fuels.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes the U.S. total energy flow diagram to visualize U.S. energy from primary energy supply (production and imports) to disposition (consumption, exports, and net stock additions). In this diagram, losses that take place when primary energy sources are converted into electricity are allocated proportionally to the end-use sectors. The result is a visualization that associates the primary energy consumed to generate electricity with the end-use sectors of the retail electricity sales customers, even though the amount of electric energy end users directly consumed was significantly less.

U.S. primary energy production by source

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

The share of U.S. total energy production from fossil fuels peaked in 1966 at 93%. Total fossil fuel production has continued to rise, but production has also risen for non-fossil fuel sources such as nuclear power and renewables. As a result, fossil fuels have accounted for about 80% of U.S. energy production in the past decade.

Since 2008, U.S. production of crude oil, dry natural gas, and natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) has increased by 15 quadrillion British thermal units (quads), 14 quads, and 4 quads, respectively. These increases have more than offset decreasing coal production, which has fallen 10 quads since its peak in 2008.

U.S. primary energy overview and net imports share of consumption

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

In 2019, U.S. energy production exceeded energy consumption for the first time since 1957, and U.S. energy exports exceeded energy imports for the first time since 1952. U.S. energy net imports as a share of consumption peaked in 2005 at 30%. Although energy net imports fell below zero in 2019, many regions of the United States still import significant amounts of energy.

Most U.S. energy trade is from petroleum (crude oil and petroleum products), which accounted for 69% of energy exports and 86% of energy imports in 2019. Much of the imported crude oil is processed by U.S. refineries and is then exported as petroleum products. Petroleum products accounted for 42% of total U.S. energy exports in 2019.

U.S. primary energy consumption by source

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

The share of U.S. total energy consumption that originated from fossil fuels has fallen from its peak of 94% in 1966 to 80% in 2019. The total amount of fossil fuels consumed in the United States has also fallen from its peak of 86 quads in 2007. Since then, coal consumption has decreased by 11 quads. In 2019, renewable energy consumption in the United States surpassed coal consumption for the first time. The decrease in coal consumption, along with a 3-quad decrease in petroleum consumption, more than offset an 8-quad increase in natural gas consumption.

EIA previously published articles explaining the energy flows of petroleum, natural gas, coal, and electricity. More information about total energy consumption, production, trade, and emissions is available in EIA’s Monthly Energy Review.

Principal contributor: Bill Sanchez

September, 15 2020
Nord Stream 2: Democratic Ideals or Business Reality

It was an innocuous set of words published in a newspaper in Germany on Sunday. “I hope the Russian do not force us to change our position on Nord Stream 2”, the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was quoted as saying. A day after that, Angela Merkel also issued a single sentence: “The German Chancellor agrees with the Foreign Minister’s comments from the weekend.” Simple words with a bold message. And potentially devastating consequences.

The incident that hardened the hearts of Germany , which had become increasingly isolated over the issue of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that connects Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, was the hospitalisation of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Airlifted to Berlin following a medically-induced coma, German doctors concluded that Navalny, who is no stranger to intimidation tactics by the Putin government, was the victim of the Novichok nerve agent. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because it made headlines in 2018 over the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, UK. A lethal nerve agent developed in the 1970s in Soviet Russia, Novichok is among the deadliest poisons ever developed and is banned under the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Kremlin, predictably, denies involvement in the alleged poisoning, dismissing the German allegations as untrue.

That this could be the straw that broke the Nord Stream 2 back is perhaps surprising. The Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has survived many obstacles. Many, many obstacles. The sequel to the original 1,222km Nord Stream that was inaugurated in November 2011, Nord Stream 2 will add 1,230km more pipeline between Vyborg in Russia and Lubin in Germany, with nearly all of the entire 2,452km length already being laid. Championed by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and inherited by Merkel, the Nord Stream pipelines were developed to meet Germany’s growing energy demand, as it moved away from burning coal and nuclear fission. However, it has attracted criticism from many quarters. From Germany’s neighbours including Poland, Denmark and Estonia concerned over the pipeline that passes through their waters. From the EU, concerned about making Germany too energy dependent from a ‘politically unreliable’ country. From the US, which has threatened and, indeed, imposed sanctions on companies involved in the project. Some would argue that the vociferous US involvement, championed by President Donald Trump is self-serving, meant to allow US energy exports to muscle in, but it still fits neatly into Germany’s Russian dependence issue.

Throughout all this drama, Angela Merkel has stood firm. She, and her centre-right party CDU, have supported Nord Stream somewhat unenthusiastically with the primary concerns being the business element. It will unravel Germany’s plans to become a natural gas hub, as it tries to drive an EU movement towards cleaner energy. Many of Germany’s largest companies,  include petrochemicals giant BASF and its energy arm Wintershall are also heavily invested in Nord Stream and the raw gas it will bring. It would also be a reputational risk to pull the plug on a project that is almost complete and set to be launched by the year’s end, and still leaves the critical question on how Germany will be able to address its energy deficit.

The business argument has overridden political concerns so far. But now a moral imperative has arisen through the attempted murder of Alexei Navalny, with his subsequent medical treatment in Berlin. This resonates in Germany particularly, since the country understands the historical consequences of authoritarian governments and the dangers it bring. The shifting of the political landscape, especially the rise of the Green Party has triggered a ferocious debate with high-ranking politicians from both the left and right calling for the project to be scrapped. Some are even arguing that Nord Stream 2 gas supply is no longer necessary, as the country’s energy requirements are now fundamentally shifting in a post-Covid 19 world.

If, and that is a very big if, the Nord Stream 2 is scrapped, that is at least US$9.4 billion down the drain and plenty more in collateral damage from peripheral activities. It will rock the boat when the usual Merkel instinct is to steady it. But the furore over an attempted assassination by one of the world’s deadliest methods no less, might be a stand that Germany is willing to take. After all, it knows first-hand the effects of an iron fist. Berlin has so far stood alone in advancing Nord Stream 2, even after the chorus of critics surrounding it grow louder and louder. If it were to kill the project, Germany could find plenty of supporters for that move and would be more than happy to offer themselves up as a role to scupper this ship. The options are varied, but one question remains that will influence the whole issue: how is Angela Merkel willing to go to take a stand over democratic ideals or business reality?

Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$39-41/b, WTI – US$36-38/b
  • A second global acceleration in Covid-19 cases is hampering hopes that the worldwide economy will be able to return to normality by the year’s end, delaying the time it will take for crude demand to return to its pre-crisis level
  • With the summer driving season in the northern hemisphere coming to a close, US crude stockpiles are rising, driving down prices even though the US EIA raised its forecasts for 2020 to US$38.99 for WTI and US$41.90 for Brent
  • The downturn in prices was also driven by Saudi Arabia cutting its crude pricing for October sales by a larger-than-expected amount, especially for Asian shipments

END OF ARTICLE

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September, 15 2020