Jason Lavis

Marketing Director at Natural Resource Professionals ltd.
Last Updated: September 11, 2017
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Career Development

Same person, different hats

You’ve probably noticed a new employment dynamic in the upstream oil and gas industry… The line between employees, consultants, self-employed business contractors and business owners has become blurred…

This is likely to continue and even accelerate due to a number of macro factors:

  • Tenure rates and contracts are getting shorter, giving more employment breaks. This is when a status jump can be made more easily.
  • People with a ton of experience, and money in the bank find themselves unemployed and with little to lose. (In relation to starting something new).
  • The internet has empowered people to be easily able to create a new business, and/or work remotely.
  • The future of the oil and gas industry is uncertain, as is the case in most industries due to technology.
  • It’s more culturally acceptable to start a business, and fail a few times. Likewise, shifting from self-employed back to employed holds no shame.

There are other factors in play, ones that we’re all aware of. For example, we no longer need to choose. A side-gig, or multiple concurrent ventures can be launched, even while working full time. (If you can stomach that amount of stress!)

The point is that there is no set career path to follow anymore. The leaders of the future will be the ones who can pivot and solve problems in a creative way. It’s the creatives and visionaries that will blaze the way… In fact, when we think about it, hasn’t that always been the case?

Once you know the next steps in your career path, idea/market validation is crucial. You don’t want to be working on your new invention in the garden shed for 10 years, only to unveil it and find that no-one is interested.

So, the leaders of tomorrow will efficiently validate and market themselves, their products and ideas. You need efficient ways of getting the word out, to the people that you want it in front of.

Which brings me to the point of the post…

I’m a believer in creating not just an online presence, but an online omnipresence (I've written about that before). Demonstrate to the world that you’re committed, willing and able to continuously think about concepts and solutions.

You can be employed by 10 companies, and start 10 of your own. You can collaborate and be a lone wolf at different times.

While the economic activity that you undertake changes, there is something that doesn’t change… Your character, and your ability to create solutions.

These fundamental building blocks of a career can be chronicled, documented and stored online. Not on your hard drive, where they won’t help you, but online. For all of your peers, mentors, students, employers and business partners to see…

Your body of work, your career and life achievements.

Eventually, you might appear in all major news and media outlets, and in every industry association website. In the beginning though, in our path to online omnipresence and career security… We set up profiles and become known in as many places as possible.

Did you notice that I just wrote career security?

Job security is dead…

Long live career security!

Being a serial problem solver, who is willing to learn new concepts and put in the hard work, will likely mean career security. If you’re an amazing chef, it’s possible that you could move from French, to Japanese, to Chinese cuisine. If you use the same skills that you already know, applied to a new set of rules and tactics, you can succeed again and again.

A weak French Chef is unlikely to make the move to another kitchen art…

If you’re a serial achiever, chronicle it online. Create a track record that will allow you to stand out from all other candidates for future job applications. Set up series of online breadcrumbs that will increase the chances of finding your next business partner, supplier or customer.

Are you planning to create career security? Perhaps you already have a sideline or small business? Perhaps you’re set up as a consultant?

Apart form the obvious places that you need to be (Facebook, LinkedIn etc), here are a few places where you can set up a professional or business profile:

(All Oil and Gas/Energy related)

Rigzone directory
Natresco directory
Houston Energy Insider
drillers.com candidate profile
drillers.com employer profile

I’ve only listed five, and they’re all free to register on, search around and you’ll find dozens more. Gradually, you can capture more online real estate for yourself and your companies of the future.

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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.

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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.

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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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Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$71-73/b, WTI – US$68-70/b
  • Global crude benchmarks have stayed steady, even as OPEC+ sticks to its plans to ease supply quotas against the uncertainty of rising Covid-19 cases worldwide
  • However, the success of vaccination drives has kindled hope that the effect of lockdowns – if any – will be mild, with pockets of demand resurgence in Europe; in China, where there has been a zero-tolerance drive to stamp out Covid outbreaks, fuel consumption is strengthening again, possibly tightening fuel balances in Q4
  • Meanwhile, much of the US Gulf of Mexico crude production remains hampered by the effects of Hurricane Ida, providing a counter-balance on the supply side

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