WITH the scarcity of employment in the oil and gas industry, graduates with both soft skills and knowledge will have an edge in the competitive job market.
Tertiary students in this field are taking their own initiative to ready themselves for job recruitment upon graduation.
Felicity Valerie Karim, a 23-year-old final-year petroleum engineering student at Curtin University, said: “Fresh graduates are having difficulties in getting jobs. Be proactive and get involved in programmes in order to network and put yourself in the market,” she said.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia final-year petroleum engineering student Boshkiran Segar, 22, has always strived to gain extra skills in addition to academic knowledge.
“Students learn theories at university. In terms of practical experience, we can only earn it outside the university, through programmes and internships. Exposure and on-the-job learning enhance theories,” he said.
Concerned about employability, Felicity and Boshkiran have joined the NrgEdge Ambassador Programme crafted for students and fresh graduates interested in the energy, oil and gas industry.
The initiative encourages participants to get a head start in the sector and their career journey by getting involved in industry events and learning networking skills.
As ambassadors, students will be the bridge connecting their university and peers with the industry and its latest developments to ensure that the future generations of energy professionals are well-equipped for the transition to professional life.
The programme has received more 150 applicants from various countries to date. However, at present, only Malaysian and Bruneian applicants are accepted.
NrgEdge co-founder Malina Raman said: “This programme was put together to spread the knowledge about what the industry has to offer. Participants network at our professional events and boost their confidence by learning to speak in public. NrgEdge ambassadors also get access to career mentors for guidance on the job market, resume writing as well as skills at an interview.”
Malina added that those employed in the fast growing renewable energy sector will have to update their skills constantly.
“In the long term, the fossil fuels industry will go into a transitionary phase. Undergraduates and young professionals must understand their new prospects in the jobs market of the future. Job opportunities will be different from a decade ago, as there will be more emphasis on the downstream and petrochemicals sector, and the development and production of cleaner fossil fuels such as natural gas.
“As the economies in Malaysia and across the world continue to grow, there will be a sustained need for more energy. The skills acquired by students and young professionals today through varied engineering and scientific disciplines can be applied in the fast growing renewable energy sector.”
At the NrgEdge Ambassador Boot Camp, the first training session of the programme, trainer Siti Rasidah Mohd Shihab coached 16 students in mind-challenging activities.
Siti Rasidah, who had worked with Petronas for 25 years, sees this programme as training participants to survive in a world with fewer job openings.
“Graduates are flooding the market. They have to work at getting employment these days. Given the tough job market, they have to buck up. Things are not how they used to be.
“Previously, graduates were easily employed as soon as they graduated. This is not the case today. They have to compete and be versatile.”
The first instalment of the programme will see 31 participants taking part in a series of events to be conducted across Malaysia.
One of the ambassadors, final-year petroleum engineering student Fatin Aina Zawani Jais, 21, said that this programme gives her the chance to network with people face-to-face, a practice which is getting rare in the digitalised world.
“It is important to meet people to share opportunities and knowledge to gain exposure to the industry. We talk about issues which we don’t get to express at university. We learn about the differences in the learning environment at different tertiary institutions and the syllabi,” she said.
NrgEdge regional strategic partnerships manager Mohd Anas Asalem, who is also a graduate of the oil and gas field, said that the programme creates multi-talented employees to fill the talent gap in the sector.
“When people in the industry retire, fresh graduates cannot fill the posts because of the downturn. This has been taking place for 20 years,” he added.
NrgEdge is trying to expand its programme to Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand. This year the programme received applicants from Malaysia (40 per cent), Indonesia (18), Singapore (12), India (nine) and other countries (21).
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This winter, natural gas prices have been at their lowest levels in decades. On Monday, February 10, the near-month natural gas futures price at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) closed at $1.77 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). This price was the lowest February closing price for the near-month contract since at least 2001, in real terms, and the lowest near-month futures price in any month since March 8, 2016, according to Bloomberg, L.P. and FRED data.
In addition, according to Natural Gas Intelligence data, the daily spot price at the Henry Hub national benchmark was $1.81/MMBtu on February 10, 2020, the lowest price in real terms since March 9, 2016. Henry Hub spot prices have ranged between $1.81/MMBtu and $2.84/MMBtu this winter heating season (since November 1, 2019), generally because relatively warm winter weather has reduced demand for natural gas for heating. Natural gas production growth has outpaced demand growth, reducing the need to withdraw natural gas from underground storage.
Dry natural gas production in January 2020 averaged about 95.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), according to IHS Markit data. IHS Markit also estimates that in January 2020 the United States saw the third-highest monthly U.S. natural gas production on record, down slightly from the previous two months.
IHS Markit estimates that U.S. natural gas consumption by residential, commercial, industrial, and electric power sectors averaged 96 Bcf/d for January, which was about 4.4 Bcf/d less than the average for January 2019, largely because of decreases in residential and commercial consumption as a result of warmer temperatures.
However, IHS Markit estimates that overall consumption of natural gas (including feed gas to liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities, pipeline fuel losses, and net exports by pipeline to Mexico) averaged about 117.5 Bcf/d in January 2020, an increase of about 0.2 Bcf/d from last year. This overall increase is largely a result of an almost doubling of LNG feed gas to about 8.5 Bcf/d.
Because supply growth has outpaced demand growth, less natural gas has been withdrawn from storage withdrawals this winter. Despite starting the 2019–20 heating season with the third-lowest level of natural gas inventory since 2009, by January 17, 2020, working natural gas inventories reached relatively high levels for mid-winter. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) data on natural gas inventories for the Lower 48 states as of February 7, 2020, reflect a 215 Bcf surplus to the five-year average. In EIA’s latest short-term forecast, more natural gas remains in storage levels than the previous five-year average through the remainder of the winter.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), January 2020 was the fifth-warmest in its 126-year climate record. Heating degree days (HDDs), a temperature-based metric for heating demand, have been relatively low this winter, which is consistent with a warmer winter. During some weeks in late December and early January, the United States saw 25% to 30% fewer HDDs than the 30-year average. This winter, through February 8, residential natural gas customers in the United States have seen 11% fewer HDDs than the 30-year average.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center data
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 10 February 2020 – Brent: US$53/b; WTI: US$49/b
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