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A practicing Professional Engineer and DOSH qualified 1st Grade Steam Engineer, Ir Mahmood Azmy holds the position of CEO at MECIP Global Engineers Sdn Bhd, and is an active member of IEM, MOGEC and MOGSC, and serves as a board member of SEAMOG Group Sdn Bhd.


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Ir Mahmood Azmy Muhd Shukri, MECIP CEO


  1. What has been your greatest achievement so far in MECIP?
    I have been with MECIP for a while now. The greatest achievement for MECIP is that we are able to establish ourselves strongly as equivalent to other international players in oil and gas business. Being local and positioned in Kerteh, Terengganu, it is quite difficult to be visible. But we manage to step out of our boundaries in becoming more prominent in the oil and gas community. It is an achievement for us in terms of the company’s branding, which helps us in marketing, gaining trust and becoming business partners of PETRONAS, Shell, other reputable oil and gas companies, as well as working closely with MATRADE to market our services overseas. This is in line with our company name – MECIP Global, where we want to position ourselves globally as an oil and gas engineering services provider.

  2. I understand that you previously worked in PETRONAS. And now as CEO of MECIP, do you think that the business connections you made back then has helped you in your business?
    I worked with PETRONAS for more than 12 years in oil refinery and petrochemical plant, and another 10 years in a US-based company, HUNTSMAN which gave me very good technical background in oil, gas, and petrochemical business. Being in PETRONAS for many years, coupled with international exposure with HUNTSMAN, I made quite a number of connections which enriched my technical and management experience. I started my career as a project engineer in Kerteh Refinery Reformer Project, then subsequently lead maintenance team in Kerteh Refinery and the Inspection team in Kerteh Ethylene Polyethylene plant. I made my career move outside of PETRONAS to lead Engineering team in HUNTSMAN to gain further knowledge, experience and exposure working with an international company. In managing projects, maintenance, inspection and engineering work, many technical matters were covered, and I had the opportunity to work with specialists and experts in various subject matters. It was expected of me to ensure all activities managed must be well planned, conducted in high safety standards, with great attention to detail, with target of zero defect and according to schedule. I was able understand the technical part of the business and management of engineering work much better through these experiences and business connections locally and overseas. All these experiences, knowledge, contact and business relationships, are very important for me and MECIP to deliver quality engineering service to our clients.

  3.  Are there challenges you faced over the years that you have overcome? How did you do so?
    Working in oil and gas means you may face multiple challenges over the years. One of the challenges we faced is related to people. We must hire good, competent, talented and well-committed people. Because they will become our assets. Getting the right people is a real challenge. For example, when you’re building a house, the foundation must be strong. Even if the house looks beautiful on the outside, if it doesn’t have a good foundation, it will crumble when a storm comes. That’s why it’s important to get the right people, with the right attitude and mindset. We’re looking for people who want to grow with the company. I would like to groom or nurture them to be like me! I want to develop them into becoming future leaders of our business. But sometimes it’s difficult to retain good talent, as they might resign as soon as there’s a better position somewhere else, and then we have to start the hiring process all over again. That’s why we introduced a loyalty programme for our staff. Those who stay for more than 5 years in our company, we reward them with vacation trips, and the longer they stay, the better the rewards. On top of this, we also have annual dinners to encourage a community-feel in our company. We do these little things because we want our people to be happy, enjoy working and stay loyal with MECIP.

  4. Has there been a new development in MECIP, perhaps a new way of doing things or a new technology, that has recently helped a project?
    Technology has been developing so rapidly worldwide, and we have to adjust ourselves. In terms of engineering software, it has changed the way we do things. In design work, we have evolved from using manual tools to computer software and programmes. It is an expensive investment, but we must do it in order to adapt and grow our business. We are always looking for ways to improve our work processes and efficiency. With technology, it will really help us to improve our work performance to serve our client better and this is in line with our passion to serve - “Do it right the first time, every time.”

  5.  As I understand it, it is MECIP’s vision to provide local solutions with global expertise. Do you believe that the local talents are at par with overseas counterparts? 
    Overseas talents are more exposed to the global market and they might have more expertise and experience compared to Malaysian talents. Our local talents, normally having minimal overseas experience, will have limited opportunities to work overseas as they might not be familiar with the countries’ code and standards. I do believe that we have to expose ourselves more to overseas market, learn new standards and explore better ways of doing things. In terms of the local market opportunities, especially for various big local projects here in Malaysia, I do believe the local workforce are capable and competent enough to take bigger roles and responsibilities. In fact, I think we can even speed up to build our local strength if there is a policy that requires foreign players to work under local companies for mega projects in Malaysia. I strongly urge government policy to address this matter accordingly to ensure better development and growth of Malaysian local companies. “Malaysia Boleh” slogan should continue to roar.

  6. What can students or fresh graduates do to prepare themselves for a career in the oil and gas industry? 
    In general, this message is not just for students but also to young fresh graduates who are embarking their careers in oil and gas - you must prepare yourselves mentally in terms of technical know-how and communication. You must apply good analytical thinking and ask questions to enhance understanding. If you don’t ask, how will you learn? You may think it’s alright to just let things go and leave it up to your bosses to correct your work. This is not the right thinking process. You need to put in extra efforts to learn, even after office hours or during your free time on weekends. The learning curve for young graduates must be exponential and they must strive to be good in their respective technical knowledge, especially if they are engineers. If you come across something that you want to delve deeper at work, keep that as ‘homework’. Keep an inventory of things you want to learn in your pocket. I call this the ‘pocket list’. So, you will always occupy yourself with learning. Be proactive in whatever tasks and initiatives given to you. For engineers, I would encourage you to get additional certifications because a degree on its own may not be enough. Work hard towards becoming a Professional Engineer as the career objective. Join professional societies and become a member of Institute of Engineer Malaysia (IEM), Institute of Materials, Malaysia (IMM), etc. These will help you gain good connections and learn about new technologies in the industry.

  7. Having worked with various business partners all over the world, was there something from overseas that impressed you, that you have successfully adapted at MECIP?
    Working with a Japanese company like Chiyoda Corporation, was a very good experience. Being in Japan, you get to observe how Japanese people manage their time. They are very focused and the quality of work produced is extremely good. They are also very detail-oriented, even their handwriting is very neat. I enjoyed very much working with the Japanese and try to adopt similar mindset at MECIP – being result-oriented, attention to detail, work hard, and take things seriously. Sometimes you might have to stay back and work, but that’s what you have to do in order to achieve results. We will not allow substandard work to be produced. We also established a good quality culture in our office - we developed an engineering design process called interdisciplinary checks (IDC) where there are multiple checks to ensure our engineers produce quality work. And this is part of the ISO 9000 quality management system, which is basically derived from the Japanese culture. Our company is an ISO 9001-certified company, and we believe in delivering a good quality job, in a safe and timely manner. We also believe in continuous improvement or “Kaizen” – engineers must develop themselves in order to become senior engineers and so on. You can’t stay in one position forever. Punctuality is also one of the things I try to emphasize. The Japanese are very punctual with their timing. Most importantly, I value honesty at work. Japanese people are very transparent with their work – if they made a mistake, they will own up to it. For locals, saying sorry might be more difficult. But it’s important to keep that integrity.

  8. What is the company culture of MECIP?
    As I mentioned, we like to encourage continuous improvement in our company. We also encourage our engineers to practice their communications skills. For example, we have “English Day” in the office where staff will practice their presentation skills in English. Some might have broken English, but the important thing is they try and keep on improving themselves. We give awards to the “Best Speakers” in our annual dinners. We also like to reward those who give internal training and share their knowledge with others. Usually the juniors will nominate their seniors who they think are the best “coach” or “teacher”. We actually have a few excellent engineers who like to share their technical knowledge. In general, we want to improve through excellence in knowledge and we encourage everyone to learn from each other. We want our engineers to be passionate about their own expertise and share this passion with others.

  9. What is next in the pipeline for MECIP?
    We are planning to secure some overseas projects. We have been to Brunei, Jakarta, Aberdeen, Houston. We’ll be going to Abu Dhabi in Middle East in mid-November. We have our partners in Abu Dhabi and the next step is to secure overseas jobs that can be done locally in Malaysia. In recent years, we have established a good partnership with a Norwegian company, Sharecat, and have formed a Malaysian joint-venture (JV) company with them to provides oil and gas services to the European market. In our plan, Norway will be like a big “storage tank”, and they will pipe down the work to us in Malaysia to execute. Due to the economic downturn, the market is a little slow. But we hope business will pick up soon once the market recovers. We are looking for more channels like these so we can hire more local engineers and nurture them to become future leaders. Our goal is to encourage more participation and involvement of our local engineers to serve the global market through MECIP. MECIP also seriously plans to expand and venture into new horizons through SEAMOG, a new company that was formed to do EPCC packages and major plant Turnaround. We believe in consolidation and having equal shares with other three strong companies in SEAMOG will make us grow bigger and faster. We want to transform MECIP for a better future.

  10. Finally, name things that are important to you – in life or in your career.
    Always have in mind, to do the right thing. Be thankful and grateful. Be honest, trust and grow people. Don’t get easily frustrated when things don’t go your way. When you do something, there should be no turning back. You must have a goal and know which direction you are heading. Have good and sincere intentions because it will most definitely be rewarded in the end.


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The United States installed more wind turbine capacity in 2020 than in any other year

U.S. wind turbine electricity generating capacity additions

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory

In both 2019 and 2020, project developers in the United States installed more wind power capacity than any other generating technology. According to data recently published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, annual wind turbine capacity additions in the United States set a record in 2020, totaling 14.2 gigawatts (GW) and surpassing the previous record of 13.2 GW added in 2012. After this record year for wind turbine capacity additions, total wind turbine capacity in the United States is now 118 GW.

The impending phaseout of the full value of the U.S. production tax credit (PTC) at the end of 2020 primarily drove investments in wind turbine capacity that year, just as previous tax credit reductions led to significant wind capacity additions in 2012 and 2019. In December 2020, Congress extended the PTC for another year.

net electricity generation from wind and other sources in selected states

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

Texas has the most wind turbine capacity among states: 30.2 GW were installed as of December 2020. In 2020, Texas generated more electricity from wind than the next three highest states (Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas) combined. However, Texas generates and consumes more total electricity than any other state, and wind remains slightly less than 20% of the state’s electricity generation mix.

In two other states—Iowa and Kansas—wind is the most prevalent source of in-state electricity generation. In both states, wind surpassed coal as the state’s top electricity generation source in 2019.

wind's share of in-state utility-scale electricity generation

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

Nationally, 8.4% of utility-scale electricity generation in 2020 came from wind turbines. Many of the turbines added in late 2020 will contribute to increases in wind-powered electricity generation in 2021. EIA expects wind’s share of electricity generation to increase to 10% in 2021, according to forecasts in EIA’s most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook.

March, 05 2021
Myanmar’s Coup and Repercussions to Its Oil Industry

It was a good run while it lasted. Almost exactly a decade ago, the military junta in Myanmar was dissolved, following civilian elections. The country’s figurehead, Aung San Suu Kyi, was released from house arrest to lead, following in the footsteps of her father. Although her reputation has since been tarnished with the Rohingya crisis, she remains beloved by most of her countrymen, and her installation as Myanmar’s de facto leader lead to a golden economic age. Sanctions were eased, trade links were restored, and investment flowed in, not least in the energy sector. Yet the military still remained a powerful force, lurking in the background. In early February, they bared their fangs. Following an election in November 2020 in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won an outright majority in both houses of Parliament. A coup d’etat was instigated, with the Tatmadaw – the Burmese military – decrying fraud in the election. Key politicians were arrested, and rule returned to the military.

For many Burmese, this was a return to a dark past that many thought was firmly behind them. Widespread protests erupted, quickly turning violent. The Tatmadaw still has an iron grip, but it has created some bizarre situations – ordinary Burmese citizens calling on Facebook and foreign governments to impose sanctions on their country, while the Myanmar ambassador to the United Nations was fired for making an anti-army speech at the UN General Assembly.

The path forward for Myanmar from this point is unclear. The Tatmadaw has declared a state of emergency lasting up to a year, promising new elections by the end of 2021. There is little doubt that the NLD will win yet another supermajority in the election, IF they are fair and free. But that is a big if. Meanwhile, the coup threatens to return Myanmar to the pariah state that it was pre-2010. And threatens to abort all the grand economic progress made since.

In the decade since military rule was abolished, development in Myanmar has been rapid. In the capital city Yangon, glittering new malls have been developed. The Ministry of Energy in 2009 was housed in a crumbling former high school; today, it occupies a sprawling complex in the new administrative capital of Naypyidaw. While not exactly up to the level of the Department of Energy in Washington DC, it is certainly no longer than ministry that was once reputed to take up to three years to process exploration licences for offshore oil and gas blocks.

And it is that very future that is now at stake. Energy has been a great focus for investment in Myanmar, drawn by the rich offshore deposits in the Andaman Sea and the country’s location as a possible pipeline route between the Middle East and inland China. Estimates suggest that – based on pre-coup trends – Myanmar was likely to attract over US$1.1 billion in upstream investment in 2023, more than four times projected for 2021 and almost 20 times higher than 2011. The funds would not only be directed at maintaining production at the current Yadana, Yetagun, Zawtika and Shwe gas fields – where offshore production is mainly exported to Thailand, but also upcoming megaprojects such as Woodside and Total’s A-6 deepwater natural gas and PTTEP’s Aung Sinka Block M3 developments.

The coup now presents foreign investors in Myanmar’s upstream energy sector with a conundrum and reputational risk. Stay, and risk being seen as abetting an undemocratic government? Or leave, and risk being flushing away years of hard work? The home governments of foreign investors such as Total, Chevron, PTTEP, Woodside, Petronas, ONGC, Nippon Oil, Kogas, POSCO, Sumitomo, Mitsui and others have already condemned the coup. For now these companies are hoping that foreign pressure will resolve the situation in a short enough timeframe to allow business to resume. Australia’s Woodside Petroleum has already called the coup a ‘transitionary issue’ claiming that it will not affect its exploration plans, while other operators such as Total and Petronas have focused on the safety of their employees as they ‘monitor the evolving situation’.

But the longer the coup lasts without a resolution satisfactory to the international community and the longer the protests last (and the more deaths that result from that), the more untenable the position of the foreign upstream players will be. Asian investors, especially the Chinese, mainly through CNPC/PetroChina, and the Thais, through PTTEP - will be relatively insulated, but American and European majors face bigger risks. This could jeopardise key projects such as the Myanmar-to-China crude oil and natural gas pipeline project (a 771km connection to Yunnan), two LNG-to-power projects (Thaketa and Thilawa, meant to deal with the country’s chronic blackouts) and the massive Block A-6 gas development in the Shwe Yee Htun field by Woodside which just kicked off a fourth drilling campaign in December.

It is a big unknown. The Tatmadaw has proven to be impervious to foreign criticism in the past, ignoring even the most stringent sanctions thrown their way. In fact, it was a huge surprise that the army even relinquished power back in 2010. But the situation has changed. The Myanmar population is now more connected and more aware, while the army has profited off the opening of the economy. The economic consequences of returning to its darker days might be enough to trigger a resolution. But that’s not a guarantee. What is certain is that the coup will have a lasting effect on energy investment and plans in Myanmar. How long and how deep is a question that only the Tatmadaw can answer. 

Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$63-65/b, WTI – US$60-63/b
  • The slow-but-sure recovery in Texan energy infrastructure following the big freeze has caused crude oil benchmarks to retreat somewhat, with all eyes now focusing on OPEC+ as it meets to decide its supply quotas for April and beyond
  • Some form of supply easing is expected, given that the market is showing signs of tight supply, but OPEC+ is still split on how aggressive it can be; Saudi Arabia is advocating caution while most others, led by Russia, favour a bolder easing given current prices
  • While OPEC+ supply will be keenly watched as an indicator of future crude trends, supply elsewhere is picking up, with the Baker Hughes survey of active oil and gas rigs in the USA crossing the 400-site level for the first time in over a year, with gains mainly from onshore shale drillers tempted back after being wiped up last year

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March, 03 2021
The Competition For The LNG Crown

The year 2020 was exceptional in many ways, to say the least. All of which, lockdowns and meltdowns, managed to overshadow a changing of the guard in the LNG world. After leapfrogging Indonesia as the world’s largest LNG producer in 2006, Qatar was surpassed by Australia in 2020 when the final figures for 2019 came in. That this happened was no surprise; it was always a foregone conclusion given Australia’s massive LNG projects developed over the last decade. Were it not for the severe delays in completion, Australia would have taken the crown much earlier; in fact, by capacity, Australia already sailed past Qatar in 2018.

But Australia should not rest on its laurels. The last of the LNG mega-projects in Western Australia, Shell’s giant floating Prelude and Inpex’s sprawling Ichthys onshore complex, have been completed. Additional phases will provide incremental new capacity, but no new mega-projects are on the horizon, for now. Meanwhile, after several years of carefully managing its vast capacity, Qatar is now embarking on its own LNG infrastructure investment spree that should see it reclaim its LNG exporter crown in 2030.

Key to this is the vast North Field, the single largest non-associated gas field in the world. Straddling the maritime border between tiny Qatar and its giant neighbour Iran to the north, Qatar Petroleum has taken the final investment decision to develop the North Field East Project (NFE) this month. With a total price tag of US$28.75 billion, development will kick off in 2021 and is expected to start production in late 2025. Completion of the NFE will raise Qatar’s LNG production capacity from a current 77 million tons per annum to 110 mmtpa. This is easily higher than Australia’s current installed capacity of 88 mmtpa, but the difficulty in anticipating future utilisation rates means that Qatar might not retake pole position immediately. But it certainly will by 2030, when the second phase of the project – the North Field South (NFS) – is slated to start production. This would raise Qatar’s installed capacity to 126 mmtpa, cementing its lead further still, with Qatar Petroleum also stating that it is ‘evaluating further LNG capacity expansions’ beyond that ceiling. If it does, then it should be more big leaps, since this tiny country tends to do things in giant steps, rather than small jumps.

Will there be enough buyers for LNG at the time, though? With all the conversation about sustainability and carbon neutrality, does natural gas still have a role to play? Predicting the future is always difficult, but the short answer, based on current trends, it is a simple yes. 

Supermajors such as Shell, BP and Total have set carbon neutral targets for their operations by 2050. Under the Paris Agreement, many countries are also aiming to reduce their carbon emissions significantly as well; even the USA, under the new Biden administration, has rejoined the accord. But carbon neutral does not mean zero carbon. It means that the net carbon emissions of a company or of a country is zero. Emissions from one part of the pie can be offset by other parts of the pie, with the challenge being to excise the most polluting portions to make the overall goal of balancing emissions around the target easier. That, in energy terms, means moving away from dirtier power sources such as coal and oil, towards renewables such as solar and wind, as well as offsets such as carbon capture technology or carbon trading/pricing. Natural gas and LNG sit right in the middle of that spectrum: cleaner than conventional coal and oil, but still ubiquitous enough to be commercially viable.

So even in a carbon neutral world, there is a role for LNG to play. And crucially, demand is expected to continue rising. If ‘peak oil’ is now expected to be somewhere in the 2020s, then ‘peak gas’ is much further, post-2040s. In 2010, only 23 countries had access to LNG import facilities, led by Japan. In 2019, 43 countries now import LNG and that number will continue to rise as increased supply liquidity, cheaper pricing and infrastructural improvements take place. China will overtake Japan as the world’s largest LNG importer soon, while India just installed another 5 mmtpa import terminal in Hazira. More densely populated countries are hopping on the LNG bandwagon soon, the Philippines (108 million people), Vietnam (96 million people), to ensure a growing demand base for the fuel. Qatar’s central position in the world, sitting just between Europe and Asia, is a perfect base to service this growing demand.

There is competition, of course. Russia is increasingly moving to LNG as well, alongside its dominant position in piped natural gas. And there is the USA. By 2025, the USA should have 107 mmtpa of LNG capacity from currently sanctioned projects. That will be enough to make the USA the second-largest LNG exporter in the world, overtaking Australia. With a higher potential ceiling, the USA could also overtake Qatar eventually, since its capacity is driven by private enterprise rather than the controlled, centralised approach by Qatar Petroleum. The appearance of US LNG on the market has been a gamechanger; with lower costs, American LNG is highly competitive, having gone as far as Poland and China in a few short years. But while the average US LNG breakeven cost is estimated at around US$6.50-7.50/mmBtu, Qatar’s is even lower at US$4/mmBtu. Advantage: Qatar.

But there is still room for everyone in this growing LNG market. By 2030, global LNG demand is expected to grow to 580 million tons per annum, from a current 360 mmtpa. More LNG from Qatar is not just an opportunity, it is a necessity. Traditional LNG producers such as Malaysia and Indonesia are seeing waning volumes due to field maturity, but there is plenty of new capacity planned: in the USA, in Canada, in Egypt, in Israel, in Mozambique, and, of course, in Qatar. In that sense, it really doesn’t matter which country holds the crown of the world’s largest exporter, because LNG demand is a rising tide, and a rising tide lifts all 😊

Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$64-66/b, WTI – US$60-63/b
  • Despite the thaw after Texas saw a devastating big freeze, the slow ramp-up in restoring US Gulf Coast oil production and refining has supported crude oil prices, with Brent moving above the US$65/b level and WTI now in the low US$60/b level
  • Some Wall Street analysts, including Goldman Sachs, are predicting that oil prices could climb above US$70/b level based on current fundamentals, as the short-term spike gives ways to accelerating consumption trends
  • However, much will depend on OPEC+’s approach to managing supply in Q2, with a meeting set for early March; Saudi Arabia is once again urging caution, but there are many other members of the club champing at the bit to increase output and capitalise on the rising price environment


March, 01 2021