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Career Development
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Hard work and skills are crucial to a career from the first interview through to senior management. But a passion for people at work and in our society puts magic into one’s life.


By Anas Alam Faizli


I still remember getting the shock of my life when I arrived at Asia’s southernmost tip, or as some will argue, second southernmost tip. The place looked barren and when I saw a bauxite site, it struck me that this was exactly what I learnt back in geography class – there’s plenty of bauxite in Teluk Ramunia but it is still nothing compared to what we are seeing now in Kuantan!

I had no idea what I was going into. A quick Altavista (there was no Google back then) search had given me just the information that the company is in the business of jacket fabrication. Jacket fabrication? I was pretty sure the company wasn’t doing a clothing line.

At the time, I was in my final semester at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia for my Bachelor’s degree. At the beginning of that semester, I had started looking for a job. I started early because I was worried I would be unemployed after graduation. During semester breaks and sometimes even when uni was in session, I worked part time with various employers hoping to lessen the burden on my parents. Being the eldest of 10 children, that would be the least I could do.

The interview went well and I got the job as a management trainee with Sime Sembcorp Engineering, a leading fabricator of offshore platforms.

Taking the job shocked many of my friends considering I did my internship with IBM and everybody thought I was going to be a computer whiz. At 19, I participated in an open source exhibition and hung out with IT savvy professionals. No one expected me to be in Oil and Gas. I guess I didn’t want to end up servicing computers and wanted to be in a more niche industry.

So after my final exam, I started my first job in the Oil and Gas industry. I spent two long years on an extremely steep learning curve in various disciplines from engineering, planning, safety, heavy lifting, construction and most importantly, project management.

I would say that one of the most challenging tasks of the job was supervising colleagues who had more than 15 years of experience in the field. I was fresh out of college and it was probably the first time I saw the worth of a degree. Suffice to say, I was not the most popular bloke in Teluk Rumania.

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There were monthly expeditions to Batam, Indonesia to expedite delivery of plates and tubular; and a trip to Germany, Amsterdam and France to expedite structural steel and electrical cables for a project we were tasked with.

I was also fortunate to be entrusted by my colleagues as a tuition teacher to their little ones – teaching Maths, Science and English in the small village of Teluk Ramunia after office hours.

Time flies. On 10 August 2004, I saw the biggest pair of dark brown eyes looking back at me. I smiled as I recited the Azan in my daughter’s ears. An hour later, Petronas Carigali called me for an interview.

I was met with a killer question during the interview: “You don’t have six years of experience and you’re not an engineer. You don’t qualify. Did you falsify your resume?”

I was about to walk out. Apparently the manpower agency included all my experience even after SPM when I was writing a weekly column for the Malay Mail and doing the website for Hijau Inovasi. They even listed out all my part-time jobs in university.

Nonetheless, I wanted to prove my worth and assail all doubts. I got the job as a Senior Project Controller through contractual employment. Immediately after singing Leaving On A Jet Plane on my HSE day, I was hitting the road again. Thank you, Sime Sembcorp. PETRONAS here I come!

The rest is history. I now belong in oil and gas.

I spent two years with Carigali doing Conceptual and Front End Engineering Design including Fabrication for the Abu Cluster project before joining Talisman Malaysia. Talisman made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. An overseas assignment – a whole new world of experience.

I picked up Vietnamese, learnt real people management skills and did my best for two years in Vung Tau, Vietnam. The Vietnamese are different – they have strong character and don’t easily admit their weaknesses.

After completing my stint in Vietnam, I spent another two years working offshore for Installation, Hook-Up and Commissioning in Malaysia-Vietnam borders.

The years offshore were tough – I worked hard in the day and studied at night for my Master’s degree in project management.

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Back to shore, I was sent to Kemaman as Talisman’s sole company representative to oversee three fabrication yards, one in KSB, one in Teluk Kemang and the third, a yard belonging to EPIC. Here, I strengthened my management and supervision skills. I believe in building a strong relationship with the team. Team building is crucial in executing any plan.

By New Year’s Eve in 2011, I was finally called back to the KL office for project development coordination work.

Now, it is interaction between the sub-surface, drilling and the operations and intensive meets with the senior management and also the Calgary office. I have now completed my upstream oil and gas cycle, covering all its phases.

Four years in opportunity evaluation, project planning and development activities while completing my doctorate part-time. A doctorate in business administration would be crucial to enter the corporate world. I needed a formal education to force myself to learn business and economy.

The years as a tuition teacher providing free education in Teluk Ramunia led me to lead an education volunteer organisation called Teach For The Needs (TFTN) in 2013. At its peak, there were 1,500 volunteers serving 20 orphanages. My corporate experience was fully utilised to help structure the organisation and its day to day operations. The leadership baton has been handed to younger leaders and it is now a well-known name in the civil society organisations.

Together with other concerned citizens, I had also co-founded an economic think tank called BLINDSPOT. One can say the term signifies the many things we missed in the quest for economic success. We raised issues of Inequality and how we can improve to reduce the gap for a better Malaysia.

Despite my punishing work schedule, I had wanted to write my thoughts on Malaysia and this I did through my book Rich Malaysia, Poor Malaysians published by Gerakbudaya in 2014.

I spent 10 good years – mostly under the blazing sun, and then some, with Talisman.

Now, I’m with Eversendai in a senior management role in charge of Business Development and Special Projects including an Oil and Gas setup. Eversendai is a true Malaysian success story. The founder is a living inspiration.

Here, a new world awaits, where the organisation is a world leading heavy steel specialist and is in the construction of high-rise buildings, infrastructure and power plants. The PETRONAS Twin Towers and the Burj Khalifa are among its list of accomplishments.

It feels like a long, tumultuous and fruitful journey. I am fortunate to have made it this far and I hope to carve out more illustrious years ahead. Yet, despite all the “achievements”, I strongly believe that you have to give back to society and that one can contribute in many ways.

Recently, the Malaysian Government through the Ministry of Human Resource appointed me as an Oil and Gas Industry Expert. I hope to contribute so much more to, and through, the industry.



*This article was first published on April 2016 on Resource Magazine and is reprinted here with full permission from the writer.

**About the Writer:
Anas Alam Faizli, is Director, Business Development and Special Projects at Eversendai Corporation Berhad. When he’s not working, he spends his time with his adorable and beautiful daughter.

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The State of the Industry: Q2 2020 Financial Performance

It is, obviously, unsurprising that the recently released Q2 financials for the oil & gas supermajors contained distressed numbers as the first full quarter of Covid-19 impact washed over the entire industry. It is, however, surprising how the various behemoths of the energy world are choosing to respond to the new normal, and how past strategies have exposed either inherent strengths or weakness in their operational strategy.

Let’s begin with BP. With roots that stretch back to 1908 with the discovery of commercial oil in Persia, now Iran – BP arguably coined the phrase supermajor in the late 1990s, when acquisition of Amoco, Arco and Burmah Castrol married BP’s own substantial holdings in Europe and the Middle East to create a transatlantic oil and gas giant. It was a trend mirrored across the industry, with the Seven Sisters of the 1970s becoming ExxonMobil (Esso and Mobil), Chevron (Gulf Oil, Socal and Texaco) and modern day Royal Dutch Shell. Joining them were ConocoPhillips (Conoco and Phillips) and Total (Petrofina and Elf Aquitaine). As the world’s appetite for oil and gas increased at an accelerating pace, the supermajors became among the world’s largest and highest valued companies across the next two decades.

That is now poised for a major change. With fossil fuels waning in demand and renewables becoming more investable, BP is now declaring that it will no longer be a supermajor. CEO Bernard Looney made the announcement ahead of the release of the company’s Q2 financials, seeking to reinvent the firm as ‘integrated energy company’ rather than an ‘integrated oil company’. To make this change, Looney is looking to shrink BP’s oil and gas output by 40% through 2030 and invest heavily to become the world’s largest renewable energy businesses, putting climate change firmly on the agenda and getting ahead of the curve in meeting European directives for a low-carbon future. This was, perhaps, already on the cards. But the Covid-19 effect has hastened it. With a second quarter loss of US$6.7 billion, BP is choosing this time to rebrand itself for long-term transformation rather than maximise current shareholder value; indeed, it will slash dividends in half in order to invest cash for the future.

On the European side of the Atlantic, that trend is accelerating. Shell and Total are also aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050, alongside other European majors such as Eni and Equinor. That isn’t to say that oil or gas will no longer play a huge role in their operations – indeed Total and Eni in particular have made many recent and potentially lucrative finds in Egypt, South Africa and Suriname – just that oil and gas will become a smaller percentage of a diversified business. Both Shell and Total have also displayed how past strategic decisions have paid dividends in uncertain times. Both supermajors declared profits for the quarter, escaping the trend of underlying losses with net profits of US$638 million and US$126 million respectively when a deep red colour to the numbers was expected. The saving grace in a dramatic quarter was their trading activities, where the trading divisions of Shell and Total (as well as BP) took advantage of chaos in the market to deliver strong results. But even with this silver lining, Shell and Total are scaling back on dividends, as they join BP in a drive to diversify in the age of climate change, which has strong political backing in Europe where they are based.

On the other side of the pond, the mood surrounding climate change is decidedly different. ExxonMobil and Chevron aren’t exactly ignoring a low-carbon future but they aren’t exactly embracing it wholeheartedly either. Instead, both supermajors look to be focusing on maximising shareholder value by focusing on producing oil as profitably as possible. It explains why Chevron moved to acquire Noble Energy recently after failing to buy Anadarko last year, and why ExxonMobil is still gung-ho over American shale and its new found black gold assets in Guyana. The Permian remains on their focus; with economic pressure on, there are rich pickings in the shale patch that could turn American shale from a patchwork of ragtag independent drillers to big boy-dominated. In the short-term, that promises quick returns after the panic – especially with ExxonMobil and Chevron declaring net losses of US$1.08 billion and US$8.3 billion for Q2, respectively – but the underlying assumption to that is that the energy industry will recover and continue as it is for the foreseeable future, rather than the major upheaval predicted by their European counterparts.

For shareholders, and the companies themselves, the expectation is what the future will hold once the worse is over. That Q2 2020 financials dismal performance was never in doubt. What is more revealing is where the supermajors will go from here. Will BP’s attempt to end the supermajor era pay off? Or will American optimism return us back to business as usual? It’s two different visions of the future that will either way spell a sea change for the industry.

Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$43-45/b, WTI – US$40-42/b
  • Global crude oil price benchmarks moved higher after a devastating blast in Lebanon that levelled a significant amount of Beirut’s port facilities
  • However, the market is also cautious as OPEC+ begins to wind its supply cuts down to a new level of 7.7 mmb/d with concerns that demand recovery is slower-than expected
  • OPEC’s Gulf nations – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE – also ended voluntary cuts made in June, but are looking to force Iraq to 100% compliance in August and September as the latest data continues to show it lagging behind commitments

End of Article 

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In this time of COVID-19, we have had to relook at the way we approach workplace learning. We understand that businesses can’t afford to push the pause button on capability building, as employee safety comes in first and mistakes can be very costly. That’s why we have put together a series of Virtual Instructor Led Training or VILT to ensure that there is no disruption to your workplace learning and progression.

Find courses available for Virtual Instructor Led Training through latest video conferencing technology.

August, 07 2020
Suriname’s Mega Discovery

It was just over five years ago that ExxonMobil discovered first oil in Guyana, transforming the sleepy South American country into the world’s upstream hotspot in just half a decade. The strike rate there has been amazing – 18 discoveries out of 20 well campaigns, and more seem to coming as new discovery efforts get underway. This made Guyana the envy of its neighbours. And why not? The Guyanese economy is projected to grow at 86% y-o-y in 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, as first commercial oil from the Liza field hit the market.

Just over the Guyana border, Suriname, a former Dutch colony had all the more reason to be envious. Unlike Guyana, Suriname has an established upstream industry. Managed by the state oil firm Staastsolie, the volumes are paltry: the onshore Calcutta and Tamabredjo field collectively produce at a current rate of 17,000 b/d. Guyana’s Liza field alone is 15 times larger than Suriname’s total crude output. But the Guyanese miracle always did herald some hope that some of that golden dust could blow Suriname’s way, not least because the giant offshore discoveries in the Staebroek block were just across the maritime border.

In January 2020, this bet proved right. US independent Apache announced it had made a ‘significant oil discovery’ at the Maka-Central 1 well, the first suggestion that the Cretaceous oil formation in Guyana extended southeast to Suriname. Two more discoveries were announced by Apache in quick succession, Sapakara West and, just this week, Kwaskwasi. All three are located in the 1.4 million acre offshore Block 58, which was originally held entirely by Apache before French supermajor Total bought into a 50% stake just before the Maka Central discovery was announced. Three discoveries in six month is quite a payoff, especially with the Kwaskwasi-1 well delivering the highest net pay and confirming a ‘world-class hydrocarbon resource’. More importantly, initial findings suggest that Kwaskwasi holds oil with API gravities in the 34-43 degree range, the sort of light oil that is perfect for petrochemicals and higher-grade fuels.

With Total scheduled to take over operatorship of the block after a fourth drilling campaign, the partners are eager to extend their streak. The Sam Croft drillship is scheduled to head to Keskesi, the fourth scheduled prospect in Block 58, after operations at Kwaskwasi-1 have concluded, and an additional exploration campaign is already in the plans for 2021.

Total and Apache aren’t the only ones playing in Surinamese waters, though they are the first to hit the payday. Most of the country’s offshore blocks have been apportioned, snapped up by ExxonMobil, Kosmos, Petronas, Tullow and Equinor, and all are hoping to be the next to announce a find. ExxonMobil, with Equinor and Hess Energy, have a good position in Block 59, just next to the Caieteur block in Guyana, while Kosmos is hunting in Block 42, right next to the Canje block in Guyana. However, it is Malaysia’s Petronas that is the next likely candidate. Present in Suriname since 2016, when it drilled the exploratory Roselle-1 well in Block 52, Petronas also has interests in Block 48 and Block 53, and recently completed a farm-out sale with ExxonMobil for 50% of Block 52. Its drilling campaign for the Sloanea-1 well is scheduled to begin in Q4 2020, and will be keenly watched by all in Suriname.

Unlike Guyana that had no state oil company, Suriname has existing national oil infrastructure. Staatsolie currently controls onshore and shallow water areas in the country. However, all wells drill in offshore Block A, B, C and D have turned out dry so far. That leaves Staatsolie in a situation: its own areas are not prolific as discoveries by Total, Apache, Petronas et al. For now, Staatsolie is looking to gain rights to 10-20% of any oil discovery within Suriname, but the framework for this is weak and it must navigate carefully to not antagonise the oil majors that are powering the discoveries in its waters. It will do well to avoid the confrontational attitude that is jeopardising LNG development in Papua New Guinea with ExxonMobil and Total, but Staatsolie does have a claim to Suriname’s oil riches for itself.

For now, it is exhilarating to observe the progress in this previously quiet corner of South America. It is the closest thing to frontier oil exploration in the 21st century, with each new discovery generating more and more excitement. Who would have thought there was so much oil left undiscovered? Guyana has shot into the spotlight, Suriname is starting its own ascent and… who knows… could French Guiana be next?

End of Article 

Get timely updates about latest developments in oil & gas delivered to your inbox. Join our email list and get your targeted content regularly for free. Click here to join.

In this time of COVID-19, we have had to relook at the way we approach workplace learning. We understand that businesses can’t afford to push the pause button on capability building, as employee safety comes in first and mistakes can be very costly. That’s why we have put together a series of Virtual Instructor Led Training or VILT to ensure that there is no disruption to your workplace learning and progression.

Find courses available for Virtual Instructor Led Training through latest video conferencing technology.

August, 01 2020
2019 U.S. coal production falls to its lowest level since 1978

U.S. total annual coal production

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Coal Report

In 2019, U.S. coal production totaled 706 million short tons (MMst), a 7% decrease from the 756 MMst mined in 2018. Last year’s production was the lowest amount of coal produced in the United States since 1978, when a coal miners’ strike halted most of the country’s coal production from December 1977 to March 1978. Weekly coal production estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show the United States is on pace for an even larger decline in 2020, falling to production levels comparable with those in the 1960s.

2019 annual coal production by state

2019 annual coal production, top 10 coal-producing states


Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Coal Report

Wyoming produces more coal than any other state, representing 39% of U.S. coal production in 2019, at 277 MMst, which is 9% lower than its coal production in 2018. Coal production in West Virginia, the state with the second-highest coal output, fell by a relatively smaller 2% in 2019. West Virginia is a primary producer of metallurgical coal, which saw sustained demand for exports in 2019. Coal production recently stopped in two states, Kansas in 2017 and Arkansas in 2018. Arizona stopped producing coal in the fall of 2019 when the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station and adjacent Kayenta coal mine that supplied it both closed.

EIA estimates weekly coal production using coal railcar loadings. In 2020, weekly coal railcar loadings have been trending much lower than 2019 levels, and most recent year-to-date coal railcar loadings were down 27% compared with 2019.

U.S. weekly railcar loadings

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Coal Production

The decline of U.S. coal production so far in 2020 reflects less demand for coal internationally and less generation from U.S. coal-fired power plants. U.S. coal exports through May 2020 are 29% lower than during the first five months of 2019. U.S. coal-fired generation fell to a 42-year low in 2019, decreasing nearly 16% from the previous year, and has fallen another 34% through May 2020.

Estimated U.S. coal production through mid-July 2020 is 27% lower than the average annual 2019 output, and EIA expects these reductions in production to persist during the remainder of the year. In the latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA forecasts a 29% decline in U.S. coal production in 2020.

EIA forecasts that U.S. coal production will increase by 7% in 2021, when rising natural gas prices may cause some coal-fired electric power plants to become more economical to dispatch. Much of EIA’s projected recovery in coal production is in the western United States.

Principal contributor: Rosalyn Berry

July, 29 2020