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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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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