As an engineering student, I must learn how to apply my skills in a real work experience before graduating. Which we called the Practical Work or Kerja Praktek (KP) for short. At first, I thought this task will be a huge burden, moreover if I had to do it alone. But then, with SCG International Internship, my KP experience turned out to be a lot different than what I expected to be
For you who might not have known before, SCG or Siam Cement Group is the largest cement and building material company based in Thailand and already growing across Southeast Asia. With over 100 years old, SCG currently has three business unit (Cement Building materials, Chemicals, and Packaging) with more than 200 companies under their brand. One of their annual programs is the SCG International Internship. It offers the opportunity to have the hands-on experience at one of the SCG subsidiary business unit at Thailand. It opens not only for engineering but also for the social science such as marketing, law, brand, and HR. In addition, they also provide the best accommodation, transportation, some meals, and even gave us an extra allowance for a month. To be honest, I don’t come from a family that can go overseas for holiday. I have never been travel outside Indonesia before.
So could you imagine how excited I was?
One thing for sure is that I have to try my best to get selected. I went through its selection series with the other 1.245 other great competitors from Indonesia. It starts with the essay submission about two topics. First is what I think the most important values based on SCG’s 4 core value. The second is about my greatest failure in which I tell my experience in losing a presidential election at my organization, emphasize on what did I learn from it. The next selection would be CV and transcript screening continued by an intense panel interview. At last, they choose the best 12 students from Indonesia with different studies ranging from engineering to social science. I can still remember my hand shaking when I received this incredible news. I am going to Thailand! This is the Indonesia SCG Inter Intern at the Huai Khuang MRT Station.
My first time going overseas, it is fully funded. I am eternally grateful and that makes every single detail about Thailand amaze me in a special way since I arrived. On the first day, we had orientation where I can meet the other 44 international intern from Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Philippines. Some of my friends will have an internship at the SCG Headquarters Bangkok while the engineering student will go to their own plant at a different company. This is the sneak peek of what our working environment looks like:
For myself, I was assigned to Thai Plastic Chemicals Public Company Limited located in Rayong Province. Precisely, it is located at Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate which is vast, organized, and remarkably green even with all the industrial activities in the vicinity. TPC is a leading company in PVC production and has expanded its business to ASEAN. Including at Indonesia, we have the TPC Indo at Gresik. Since my first day at work, I was really impressed by their work ethic. They are very hardworking and comply with every procedures or rule. From the operator, engineers, to even the Division Manager, they were all giving me a very warm welcome. Even though sometimes we find language as a barrier, but we manage to build communication with greetings, body gesture, and a sweet smile every day.
Different with my previous internship at a factory, my mentor, P’Art is a very caring man. He makes sure that I learned as much as possible in the remaining period of time. Therefore, I was given a special project where I can apply all the fundamental knowledge as a chemical engineer I have learned at college. I was responsible to give a new suggestion to change the method of the preventive maintenance plan for replacing the Dryer’s heating panel. It resulted in three significant advantages, which can reduce the plant's downtime period, maximize use of the heating panel, as well as save the maintenance cost. Even in his busiest schedule, P'Art always tried his best to answer my questions and guide me to be ready for work in the future. Here is a photo of me at the DCS with all the chemical engineers. My mentor is the one beside me with the glasses.
On the weekends, SCG took us (engineer student) back to Bangkok for some fun activities. One day we visited Thailand beautiful temples at the famous Grand Palace and Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. Seeing their cultural buildings, statue, and magnificent art right in front of my eyes was really impressive. They also took us to watch a live soccer game at SCG Stadium, a match between SCG MTUTD VS Consadole Sapporo. Though I am not a big fan of football, personally I always enjoy trying something new for the first time. Then we visited the Safari World to enjoy the smart and cute animals shows. My favorite was, of course, the elephant show! When it was the national holiday, our HR at TPC successfully managed to give us a whole day treat trip to Pattaya! It was so nice and kind of them, we visit the alluring Nong Nooch Garden, the thrilling Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and last but not least to taste the pure grape juice at the Silver Lake.
The other days we went to SCG Experience building exhibition and to SCG Heim factory. It was really inspiring to see the innovation and improvement that SCG put to keep their business growing even bigger. It taught me not to be reluctant to change, to be flexible, and how to shift the change for a better cause. Another activity is a CSR day where we spent the whole day to build a check dam at a rural village. I and my Thai interns also had CSR activities such as cleaning the beach and organizing utensils at a local temple.
It was fun and so pleasing to realize that a simple act could do a much bigger impact.
One month period of time was surely swung by so fast. I enjoy every second I spent there. Every moment I lived, laughter I shared, the knowledge I gained, and especially the new perspective I hold on to. I will try to preserve Thai positive habits such as punctuality, modesty, hospitality, and integrity in the working environment. Above all, I know how hard it was to collect information from my seniors that have joined this program before me. Therefore, I present this article for my juniors who might put interest in this program next year or anyone who will find this writing is worth to share.
For more info about SCG International Internship:
or if there’s anything you want to know more from me feel free to reach me at [email protected]
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 23 March 2020 – Brent: US$27/b; WTI: US$23/b
Headlines of the week
Crude oil prices have fallen significantly since the beginning of 2020, largely driven by the economic contraction caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID19) and a sudden increase in crude oil supply following the suspension of agreed production cuts among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and partner countries. With falling demand and increasing supply, the front-month price of the U.S. benchmark crude oil West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell from a year-to-date high closing price of $63.27 per barrel (b) on January 6 to a year-to-date low of $20.37/b on March 18 (Figure 1), the lowest nominal crude oil price since February 2002.
WTI crude oil prices have also fallen significantly along the futures curve, which charts monthly price settlements for WTI crude oil delivery over the next several years. For example, the WTI price for December 2020 delivery declined from $56.90/b on January 2, 2020, to $32.21/b as of March 24. In addition to the sharp price decline, the shape of the futures curve has shifted from backwardation—when near-term futures prices are higher than longer-dated ones—to contango, when near-term futures prices are lower than longer-dated ones. The WTI 1st-13th spread (the difference between the WTI price in the nearest month and the price for WTI 13 months away) settled at -$10.34/b on March 18, the lowest since February 2016, exhibiting high contango. The shift from backwardation to contango reflects the significant increase in petroleum inventories. In its March 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), released on March 11, 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast that Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) commercial petroleum inventories will rise to 2.9 billion barrels in March, an increase of 20 million barrels over the previous month and 68 million barrels over March 2019 (Figure 2). Since the release of the March STEO, changes in various oil market and macroeconomic indicators suggest that inventory builds are likely to be even greater than EIA’s March forecast.
Significant price volatility has accompanied both price declines and price increases. Since 1999, 69% of the time, daily WTI crude oil prices increased or decreased by less than 2% relative to the previous trading day. Daily oil price changes during March 2020 have exceeded 2% 13 times (76% of the month’s traded days) as of March 24. For example, the 10.1% decline on March 6 after the OPEC meeting was larger than 99.8% of the daily percentage price decreases since 1999. The 24.6% decline on March 9 and the 24.4% decline on March 18 were the largest and second largest percent declines, respectively, since at least 1999 (Figure 3).
On March 10, a series of government announcements indicated that emergency fiscal and monetary policy were likely to be forthcoming in various countries, which contributed to a 10.4% increase in the WTI price, the 12th-largest daily increase since 1999. During other highly volatile time periods, such as the 2008 financial crisis, both large price increases and decreases occurred in quick succession. During the 2008 financial crisis, the largest single-day increase—a 17.8% rise on September 22, 2008—was followed the next day by the largest single-day decrease, a 12.0% fall on September 23, 2008.
Market price volatility during the first quarter of 2020 has not been limited to oil markets (Figure 4). The recent volatility in oil markets has also coincided with increased volatility in equity markets because the products refined from crude oil are used in many parts of the economy and because the COVID-19-related economic slowdown affects a broad array of economic activities. This can be measured through implied volatility—an estimate of a security’s expected range of near-term price changes—which can be calculated using price movements of financial options and measured by the VIX index for the Standard and Poor’s (S&P) 500 index and the OVX index for WTI prices. Implied volatility for both the S&P 500 index and WTI are higher than the levels seen during the 2008 financial crisis, which peaked on November 20, 2008, at 80.9 and on December 11, 2008, at 100.4, respectively, compared with 61.7 for the VIX and 170.9 for the OVX as of March 24.
Comparing implied volatility for the S&P 500 index with WTI’s suggests that although recent volatility is not limited to oil markets, oil markets are likely more volatile than equity markets at this point. The oil market’s relative volatility is not, however, in and of itself unusual. Oil markets are almost always more volatile than equity markets because crude oil demand is price inelastic—whereby price changes have relatively little effect on the quantity of crude oil demanded—and because of the relative diversity of the companies constituting the S&P 500 index. But recent oil market volatility is still historically high, even in comparison to the volatility of the larger equity market. As denoted by the red line in the bottom of Figure 4, the difference between the OVX and VIX reached an all-time high of 124.1 on March 23, compared with an average difference of 16.8 between May 2007 (the date the OVX was launched) and March 24, 2020.
Markets currently appear to expect continued and increasing market volatility, and, by extension, increasing uncertainty in the pricing of crude oil. Oil’s current level of implied volatility—a forward-looking measure for the next 30 days—is also high relative to its historical, or realized, volatility. Historical volatility can influence the market’s expectations for future price uncertainty, which contributes to higher implied volatility. Some of this difference is a structural part of the market, and implied volatility typically exceeds historical volatility as sellers of options demand a volatility risk premium to compensate them for the risk of holding a volatile security. But as the yellow line in Figure 4 shows, the current implied volatility of WTI prices is still higher than normal. The difference between implied and historical volatility reached an all-time high of 44.7 on March 20, compared with an average difference of 2.3 between 2007 and March 2020. This trend could suggest that options (prices for which increase with volatility) are relatively expensive and, by extension, that demand for financial instruments to limit oil price exposure are relatively elevated.
Increased price correlation among several asset classes also suggests that similar economic factors are driving prices in a variety of markets. For example, both the correlation between changes in the price of WTI and changes in the S&P 500 and the correlation between WTI and other non-energy commodities (as measured by the S&P Commodity Index (GSCI)) increased significantly in March. Typically, when correlations between WTI and other asset classes increase, it suggests that expectations of future economic growth—rather than issues specific to crude oil markets— tend to be the primary drivers of price formation. In this case, price declines for oil, equities, and non-energy commodities all indicate that concerns over global economic growth are likely the primary force driving price formation (Figure 5).
U.S. average regular gasoline and diesel prices fall
The U.S. average regular gasoline retail price fell nearly 13 cents from the previous week to $2.12 per gallon on March 23, 50 cents lower than a year ago. The Midwest price fell more than 16 cents to $1.87 per gallon, the West Coast price fell nearly 15 cents to $2.88 per gallon, the East Coast and Gulf Coast prices each fell nearly 11 cents to $2.08 per gallon and $1.86 per gallon, respectively, and the Rocky Mountain price declined more than 8 cents to $2.24 per gallon.
The U.S. average diesel fuel price fell more than 7 cents from the previous week to $2.66 per gallon on March 23, 42 cents lower than a year ago. The Midwest price fell more than 9 cents to $2.50 per gallon, the West Coast price fell more than 7 cents to $3.25 per gallon, the East Coast and Gulf Coast prices each fell nearly 7 cents to $2.72 per gallon and $2.44 per gallon, respectively, and the Rocky Mountain price fell more than 6 cents to $2.68 per gallon.
Propane/propylene inventories decline
U.S. propane/propylene stocks decreased by 1.8 million barrels last week to 64.9 million barrels as of March 20, 2020, 15.5 million barrels (31.3%) greater than the five-year (2015-19) average inventory levels for this same time of year. Gulf Coast inventories decreased by 1.3 million barrels, East Coast inventories decreased by 0.3 million barrels, and Rocky Mountain/West Coast inventories decrease by 0.2 million barrels. Midwest inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 8.5% of total propane/propylene inventories.
Residential heating fuel prices decrease
As of March 23, 2020, residential heating oil prices averaged $2.45 per gallon, almost 15 cents per gallon below last week’s price and nearly 77 cents per gallon lower than last year’s price at this time. Wholesale heating oil prices averaged more than $1.11 per gallon, almost 14 cents per gallon below last week’s price and 98 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.
Residential propane prices averaged more than $1.91 per gallon, nearly 2 cents per gallon below last week’s price and almost 49 cents per gallon below last year’s price. Wholesale propane prices averaged more than $0.42 per gallon, more than 7 cents per gallon lower than last week’s price and almost 36 cents per gallon below last year’s price.
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 16 March 2020 – Brent: US$30/b; WTI: US$28/b
Headlines of the week