Nurliza Ibrahim

Marketing and PR Specialist
Last Updated: July 13, 2018
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Human Resources
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The year 2018 has witnessed major oil discoveries around the world. Approximately 80 billion barrels of oil has been discovered off Bahrain western coast. Egypt has announced hydrocarbon discovery capable of producing 2,300 crude oil barrels every day. Similarly, oil and gas deposits have been discovered in the east coast of India and offshore Guyana. Hydrocarbon deposits continue to be mined in different corners of the world. With new discoveries come new requirements for professionals in the evolving oil and gas and energy sector.

The industry despite being a huge provider of jobs to professionals around the world continues to face skill shortage, critically in operations. Core technical job profiles like reservoir engineers, drilling engineers, and safety specialists are not going to disappear, but with increasing automation and a greater thrust on smart systems in the sector, there is a growing demand for software engineers.

Automation is not the only reason to drive the huge opportunity for talented software engineers in the industry. Some of the other factors are:

Gigantic scale of the industry:

Explorations, production, transportation, employee management, safety, and quality have to be monitored and maintained in peak condition without any break. Coupled with challenges such as volatility of underground land depths and high seas, the industry is turning towards computer technology to provide practical and cost-effective solutions. With the adoption of computer systems into all processes, there is a rising need for talented and dedicated software engineers and professionals who can run operations with efficiency and creativity and keep on top of the challenges in the industry.

New competition:

With each passing year, competition becomes more intense as new companies join the oil and gas and energy sector. At stake are investments worth billions of dollars. Computer technology brings efficiency and accountability to operations. Latest technologies like cloud, robotics, haptic feedback, Scada, simulation, and data management are being speedily integrated to increase productivity and maintain an edge over the competition.

Boosting efficiency:

Software experts analyse oil and gas reserves, the performance of the drilling and pumping operations, alignment between machines, status reports about ebbs and flows. All data is processed and analysed to ensure that operations are carried out in a consistently cost-efficient manner. Qualified and dedicated software experts are given the responsibility to run existing operations and also provide leading-edge innovation to further increase the efficiency and capabilities of the industry.

Need for safety:

The safety of personnel and equipment is non-compromising for the industry. Volatile factors like temperature, pressure, the health of machinery, and leakages are monitored by various sensors, safety devices, warning systems and rescue systems that are run and maintained through a network of computers. The ability to monitor and interpret data and keep on top of the information can help to reduce the potential danger.

Need for upskilling:

For a successful career in the oil and gas and energy industry, apart from the core skill, soft skills such as communication and leadership are also essential. People from diverse backgrounds usually make up the working teams in this industry and cultural differences can arise in a multi-national, multi-ethnic workforce. Employees who exhibit soft skills of leadership and communication to handle the demand of leading such teams are greatly valued by employers. Needless to say, engineers who are ready to explore new ways to improve upon their communication and leadership skills climb the ladder faster and are much sought in the industry.

With the combined efforts of industry veterans, leaders and management experts, NrgEdge has developed a leadership course to help professionals acquire top-notch capabilities in management and leadership in the energy sector:

Leadership and Management Skills E-Learning Suite for Upcoming Managers https://www.nrgedge.net/course/leadership-and-management-skills-e-learning-suite-for-upcoming-managers

Finding the right job for your software skills:

To find the right job, you need the right platform to showcase your skills to a large pool of oil and gas and energy employers. NrgEdge is a platform for professionals in the energy industry and provides you with the latest developments and job and networking opportunities in oil and gas and energy industry. It is a job search portal, training and certification platform and a common meeting ground for energy professionals. Sign up and find suitable jobs that meet your requirements and qualifications. Interact with experienced industry professionals to further your skills and career in the industry.

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Saudi Aramco Moves Into Russia’s Backyard

International expansions for Saudi Aramco – the largest oil company in the world – are not uncommon. But up to this point, those expansions have followed a certain logic: to create entrenched demand for Saudi crude in the world’s largest consuming markets. But Saudi champion’s latest expansion move defies, or perhaps, changes that logic, as Aramco returns to Europe. And not just any part of Europe, but Eastern Europe – an area of the world dominated by Russia – as Saudi Aramco acquires downstream assets from Poland’s PKN Orlen and signs quite a significant crude supply deal. How is this important? Let us examine.

First, the deal itself and its history. As part of the current Polish government’s plan to strengthen its national ‘crown jewels’ in line with its more nationalistic stance, state energy firm PKN Orlen announced plans to purchase its fellow Polish rival (and also state-owned) Grupa Lotos. The outright purchase fell afoul of EU anti-competition rules, which meant that PKN Orlen had to divest some Lotos assets in order to win approval of the deal. Some of the Lotos assets – including 417 fuel stations – are being sold to Hungary’s MOL, which will also sign a long-term fuel supply agreement with PKN Orlen for the newly-acquired sites, while PKN Orlen will gain fuel retail assets in Hungary and Slovakia as part of the deal. But, more interestingly, PKN Orlen has chosen to sell a 30% stake in the Lotos Gdansk refinery in Poland (with a crude processing capacity of 210,000 bd) to Saudi Aramco, alongside a stake in a fuel logistic subsidiary and jet fuel joint venture supply arrangement between Lotos and BP. In return, PKN Orlen will also sign a long-term contract to purchase between 200,000-337,000 b/d of crude from Aramco, which is an addition to the current contract for 100,000 b/d of Saudi crude that already exists. At a maximum, that figure will cover more than half of Poland’s crude oil requirements, but PKN Orlen has also said that it plans to direct some of that new supply to several of its other refineries elsewhere in Lithuania and the Czech Republic.

For Saudi Aramco, this is very interesting. While Aramco has always been a presence in Europe as a major crude supplier, its expansion plans over the past decade have been focused elsewhere. In the US, where it acquired full ownership of the Motiva joint venture from Shell in 2017. In doing so, it acquired control of Port Arthur, the largest refinery in North America, and has been on a petrochemicals-focused expansion since. In Asia, where Aramco has been busy creating significant nodes for its crude – in China, in India and in Malaysia (to serve the Southeast Asia and facilitate trade). And at home, where the focus has on expanding refining and petrochemical capacity, and strengthen its natural gas position. So this expansion in Europe – a mature market with a low ceiling for growth, even in Eastern Europe, is interesting. Why Poland, and not East or southern Africa? The answer seems fairly obvious: Russia.

The current era of relatively peaceful cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Russia in the oil sphere is recent. Very recent. It was not too long ago that Saudi Arabia and Russia were locked in a crude price war, which had devastating consequences, and ultimately led to the détente through OPEC+ that presaged an unprecedented supply control deal. That was through necessity, as the world faced the far ranging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. But remove that lens of cooperation, and Saudi Arabia and Russia are actual rivals. With the current supply easing strategy through OPEC+ gradually coming to an end, this could remove the need for the that club (by say 2H 2022). And with Russia not being part of OPEC itself – where Saudi Arabia is the kingpin – cooperation is no longer necessary once the world returns to normality.

So the Polish deal is canny. In a statement, Aramco stated that ‘the investments will widen (our) presence in the European downstream sector and further expand (our) crude imports into Poland, which aligns with PKN Orlen’s strategy of diversifying its energy supplies’. Which hints at the other geopolitical aspect in play. Europe’s major reliance on Russia for its crude and natural gas has been a minefield – see the recent price chaos in the European natural gas markets – and countries that were formally under the Soviet sphere of influence have been trying to wean themselves off reliance from a politically unpredictable neighbour. Poland’s current disillusion with EU membership (at least from the ruling party) are well-documented, but its entanglement with Russia is existential. The Cold War is not more than 30 years gone.

For Saudi Aramco, the move aligns with its desire to optimise export sales from its Red Sea-facing terminals Yanbu, Jeddah, Shuqaiq and Rabigh, which have closer access to Europe through the Suez Canal. It is for the same reason that Aramco’s trading subsidiary ATC recently signed a deal with German refiner/trader Klesch Group for a 3-year supply of 110,000 b/d crude. It would seem that Saudi Arabia is anticipating an eventual end to the OPEC+ era of cooperative and a return to rivalry. And in a rivalry, that means having to make power moves. The PKN Orlen deal is a power move, since it brings Aramco squarely in Russia’s backyard, directly displacing Russian market share. Not just in Poland, but in other markets as well. And with a geopolitical situation that is fragile – see the recent tensions about Russian military build-up at the Ukrainian borders – that plays into Aramco’s hands. European sales make up only a fraction of the daily flotilla of Saudi crude to enters international markets, but even though European consumption is in structural decline, there are still volumes required.

How will Russia react? Politically, it is on the backfoot, but its entrenched positions in Europe allows it to hold plenty of sway. European reservations about the Putin administration and climate change goals do not detract from commercial reality that Europe needs energy now. The debate of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is proof of that. Russian crude freed up from being directed to Eastern Europe means a surplus to sell elsewhere. Which means that Russia will be looking at deals with other countries and refiners, possibly in markets with Aramco is dominant. That level of tension won’t be seen for a while – these deals takes months and years to complete – but we can certainly expect that agitation to be reflected in upcoming OPEC+ discussions. The club recently endorsed another expected 400,000 b/d of supply easing for January. Reading the tea leaves – of which the PKN Orlen is one – makes it sound like there will not be much more cooperation beyond April, once the supply deal is anticipated to end.

End of Article

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Market Outlook:

-       Crude price trading range: Brent – US$86-88/b, WTI – US$84-86/b

-       Crude oil benchmarks globally continue their gain streak for a fifth week, as the market bounces back from the lows seen in early December as the threat of the Omicron virus variant fades and signs point to tightening balances on strong consumption

-       This could set the stage for US$100/b oil by midyear – as predicted by several key analysts – as consumption rebounds ahead of summer travel and OPEC+ remains locked into its gradual consumption easing schedule 

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