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.
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.
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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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 20 May 2019 – Brent: US$73/b; WTI: US$63/b
Headlines of the week
Midstream & Downstream
At first, it seemed like a done deal. Chevron made a US$33 billion offer to take over US-based upstream independent Anadarko Petroleum. It was a 39% premium to Anadarko’s last traded price at the time and would have been the largest industry deal since Shell’s US$61 billion takeover of the BG Group in 2015. The deal would have given Chevron significant and synergistic acreage in the Permian Basin along with new potential in US midstream, as well as Anadarko’s high potential projects in Africa. Then Occidental Petroleum swooped in at the eleventh hour, making the delicious new bid and pulling the carpet out from under Chevron.
We can thank Warren Buffet for this. Occidental Petroleum, or Oxy, had previously made several quiet approaches to purchase Anadarko. These were rebuffed in favour of Chevron’s. Then Oxy’s CEO Vicki Hollub took the company jet to meet with Buffet. Playing to his reported desire to buy into shale, Hollub returned with a US$10 billion cash infusion from Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway – which was contingent on Oxy’s successful purchase of Anadarko. Hollub also secured a US$8.8 billion commitment from France’s Total to sell off Anadarko’s African assets. With these aces, she then re-approached Anadarko with a new deal – for US$38 billion.
This could have sparked off a price war. After all, the Chevron-Anadarko deal made a lot of sense – securing premium spots in the prolific Permian, creating a 120 sq.km corridor in the sweet spot of the shale basin, the Delaware. But the risk-adverse appetite of Chevron’s CEO Michael Wirth returned, and Chevron declined to increase its offer. By bowing out of the bid, Wirth said ‘Cost and capital discipline always matters…. winning in any environment doesn’t mean winning at any cost… for the sake for doing a deal.” Chevron walks away with a termination fee of US$1 billion and the scuppered dreams of matching ExxonMobil in size.
And so Oxy was victorious, capping off a two-year pursuit by Hollub for Anadarko – which only went public after the Chevron bid. This new ‘global energy leader’ has a combined 1.3 mmb/d boe production, but instead of leveraging Anadarko’s more international spread of operations, Oxy is looking for a future that is significantly more domestic.
The Oxy-Anadarko marriage will make Occidental the undisputed top producer in the Permian Basin, the hottest of all current oil and gas hotspots. Oxy was once a more international player, under former CEO Armand Hammer, who took Occidental to Libya, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, the Congo and other developing markets. A downturn in the 1990s led to a refocusing of operations on the US, with Oxy being one of the first companies to research extracting shale oil. And so, as the deal was done, Anadarko’s promising projects in Africa – Area 1 and the Mozambique LNG project, as well as interest in Ghana, Algeria and South Africa – go to Total, which has plenty of synergies to exploit. The retreat back to the US makes sense; Anadarko’s 600,000 acres in the Permian are reportedly the most ‘potentially profitable’ and it also has a major presence in Gulf of Mexico deepwater. Occidental has already identified 10,000 drilling locations in Anadarko areas that are near existing Oxy operations.
While Chevron licks its wounds, it can comfort itself with the fact that it is still the largest current supermajor presence in the Permian, with output there surging 70% in 2018 y-o-y. There could be other targets for acquisitions – Pioneer Natural Resources, Concho Resources or Diamondback Energy – but Chevron’s hunger for takeover seems to have diminished. And with it, the promises of an M&A bonanza in the Permian over 2019.
The Occidental-Anadarko deal:
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook
In April 2019, Venezuela's crude oil production averaged 830,000 barrels per day (b/d), down from 1.2 million b/d at the beginning of the year, according to EIA’s May 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook. This average is the lowest level since January 2003, when a nationwide strike and civil unrest largely brought the operations of Venezuela's state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), to a halt. Widespread power outages, mismanagement of the country's oil industry, and U.S. sanctions directed at Venezuela's energy sector and PdVSA have all contributed to the recent declines.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Baker Hughes
Venezuela’s oil production has decreased significantly over the last three years. Production declines accelerated in 2018, decreasing by an average of 33,000 b/d each month in 2018, and the rate of decline increased to an average of over 135,000 b/d per month in the first quarter of 2019. The number of active oil rigs—an indicator of future oil production—also fell from nearly 70 rigs in the first quarter of 2016 to 24 rigs in the first quarter of 2019. The declines in Venezuelan crude oil production will have limited effects on the United States, as U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude oil have decreased over the last several years. EIA estimates that U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in 2018 averaged 505,000 b/d and were the lowest since 1989.
EIA expects Venezuela's crude oil production to continue decreasing in 2019, and declines may accelerate as sanctions-related deadlines pass. These deadlines include provisions that third-party entities using the U.S. financial system stop transactions with PdVSA by April 28 and that U.S. companies, including oil service companies, involved in the oil sector must cease operations in Venezuela by July 27. Venezuela's chronic shortage of workers across the industry and the departure of U.S. oilfield service companies, among other factors, will contribute to a further decrease in production.
Additionally, U.S. sanctions, as outlined in the January 25, 2019 Executive Order 13857, immediately banned U.S. exports of petroleum products—including unfinished oils that are blended with Venezuela's heavy crude oil for processing—to Venezuela. The Executive Order also required payments for PdVSA-owned petroleum and petroleum products to be placed into an escrow account inaccessible by the company. Preliminary weekly estimates indicate a significant decline in U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in February and March, as without direct access to cash payments, PdVSA had little reason to export crude oil to the United States.
India, China, and some European countries continued to receive Venezuela's crude oil, according to data published by ClipperData Inc. Venezuela is likely keeping some crude oil cargoes intended for exports in floating storageuntil it finds buyers for the cargoes.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, and Clipper Data Inc.
A series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, likely damaging the reservoirs and associated infrastructure. In the Orinoco Oil Belt area, Venezuela produces extra-heavy crude oil that requires dilution with condensate or other light oils before the oil is sent by pipeline to domestic refineries or export terminals. Venezuela’s upgraders, complex processing units that upgrade the extra-heavy crude oil to help facilitate transport, were shut down in March during the power outages.
If Venezuelan crude or upgraded oil cannot flow as a result of a lack of power to the pumping infrastructure, heavier molecules sink and form a tar-like layer in the pipelines that can hinder the flow from resuming even after the power outages are resolved. However, according to tanker tracking data, Venezuela's main export terminal at Puerto José was apparently able to load crude oil onto vessels between power outages, possibly indicating that the loaded crude oil was taken from onshore storage. For this reason, EIA estimates that Venezuela's production fell at a faster rate than its exports.
EIA forecasts that Venezuela's crude oil production will continue to fall through at least the end of 2020, reflecting further declines in crude oil production capacity. Although EIA does not publish forecasts for individual OPEC countries, it does publish total OPEC crude oil and other liquids production. Further disruptions to Venezuela's production beyond what EIA currently assumes would change this forecast.