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.
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.
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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Recent headlines on the oil industry have focused squarely on the upstream side: the amount of crude oil that is being produced and the resulting effect on oil prices, against a backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. But that is just one part of the supply chain. To be sold as final products, crude oil needs to be refined into its constituent fuels, each of which is facing its own crisis because of the overall demand destruction caused by the virus. And once the dust settles, the global refining industry will look very different.
Because even before the pandemic broke out, there was a surplus of refining capacity worldwide. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019, global oil demand was some 99.85 mmb/d. However, this consumption figure includes substitute fuels – ethanol blended into US gasoline and biodiesel in Europe and parts of Asia – as well as chemical additives added on to fuels. While by no means an exact science, extrapolating oil demand to exclude this results in a global oil demand figure of some 95.44 mmb/d. In comparison, global refining capacity was just over 100 mmb/d. This overcapacity is intentional; since most refineries do not run at 100% utilisation all the time and many will shut down for scheduled maintenance periodically, global refining utilisation rates stand at about 85%.
Based on this, even accounting for differences in definitions and calculations, global oil demand and global oil refining supply is relatively evenly matched. However, demand is a fluid beast, while refineries are static. With the Covid-19 pandemic entering into its sixth month, the impact on fuels demand has been dramatic. Estimates suggest that global oil demand fell by as much as 20 mmb/d at its peak. In the early days of the crisis, refiners responded by slashing the production of jet fuel towards gasoline and diesel, as international air travel was one of the first victims of the virus. As national and sub-national lockdowns were introduced, demand destruction extended to transport fuels (gasoline, diesel, fuel oil), petrochemicals (naphtha, LPG) and power generation (gasoil, fuel oil). Just as shutting down an oil rig can take weeks to complete, shutting down an entire oil refinery can take a similar timeframe – while still producing fuels that there is no demand for.
Refineries responded by slashing utilisation rates, and prioritising certain fuel types. In China, state oil refiners moved from running their sites at 90% to 40-50% at the peak of the Chinese outbreak; similar moves were made by key refiners in South Korea and Japan. With the lockdowns easing across most of Asia, refining runs have now increased, stimulating demand for crude oil. In Europe, where the virus hit hard and fast, refinery utilisation rates dropped as low as 10% in some cases, with some countries (Portugal, Italy) halting refining activities altogether. In the USA, now the hardest-hit country in the world, several refineries have been shuttered, with no timeline on if and when production will resume. But with lockdowns easing, and the summer driving season up ahead, refinery production is gradually increasing.
But even if the end of the Covid-19 crisis is near, it still doesn’t change the fundamental issue facing the refining industry – there is still too much capacity. The supply/demand balance shows that most regions are quite even in terms of consumption and refining capacity, with the exception of overcapacity in Europe and the former Soviet Union bloc. The regional balances do hide some interesting stories; Chinese refining capacity exceeds its consumption by over 2 mmb/d, and with the addition of 3 new mega-refineries in 2019, that gap increases even further. The only reason why the balance in Asia looks relatively even is because of oil demand ‘sinks’ such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan. Even in the US, the wealth of refining capacity on the Gulf Coast makes smaller refineries on the East and West coasts increasingly redundant.
Given this, the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis will be the inevitable hastening of the current trend in the refining industry, the closure of small, simpler refineries in favour of large, complex and more modern refineries. On the chopping block will be many of the sub-50 kb/d refineries in Europe; because why run a loss-making refinery when the product can be imported for cheaper, even accounting for shipping costs from the Middle East or Asia? Smaller US refineries are at risk as well, along with legacy sites in the Middle East and Russia. Based on current trends, Europe alone could lose some 2 mmb/d of refining capacity by 2025. Rising oil prices and improvements in refining margins could ensure the continued survival of some vulnerable refineries, but that will only be a temporary measure. The trend is clear; out with the small, in with the big. Covid-19 will only amplify that. It may be a painful process, but in the grand scheme of things, it is also a necessary one.
Infographic: Global oil consumption and refining capacity (BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019)
|Region||Consumption (mmb/d)*||Refining Capacity (mmb/d)|
*Extrapolated to exclude additives and substitute fuels (ethanol, biodiesel)
End of Article
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Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Bloomberg L.P. data
Note: All prices except West Texas Intermediate (Cushing) are spot prices.
The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) front-month futures contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the most heavily used crude oil price benchmark in North America, saw its largest and swiftest decline ever on April 20, 2020, dropping as low as -$40.32 per barrel (b) during intraday trading before closing at -$37.63/b. Prices have since recovered, and even though the market event proved short-lived, the incident is useful for highlighting the interconnectedness of the wider North American crude oil market.
Changes in the NYMEX WTI price can affect other price markers across North America because of physical market linkages such as pipelines—as with the WTI Midland price—or because a specific price is based on a formula—as with the Maya crude oil price. This interconnectedness led other North American crude oil spot price markers to also fall below zero on April 20, including WTI Midland, Mars, West Texas Sour (WTS), and Bakken Clearbrook. However, the usefulness of the NYMEX WTI to crude oil market participants as a reference price is limited by several factors.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
First, NYMEX WTI is geographically specific because it is physically redeemed (or settled) at storage facilities located in Cushing, Oklahoma, and so it is influenced by events that may not reflect the wider market. The April 20 WTI price decline was driven in part by a local deficit of uncommitted crude oil storage capacity in Cushing. Similarly, while the price of the Bakken Guernsey marker declined to -$38.63/b, the price of Louisiana Light Sweet—a chemically comparable crude oil—decreased to $13.37/b.
Second, NYMEX WTI is chemically specific, meaning to be graded as WTI by NYMEX, a crude oil must fall within the acceptable ranges of 12 different physical characteristics such as density, sulfur content, acidity, and purity. NYMEX WTI can therefore be unsuitable as a price for crude oils with characteristics outside these specific ranges.
Finally, NYMEX WTI is time specific. As a futures contract, the price of a NYMEX WTI contract is the price to deliver 1,000 barrels of crude oil within a specific month in the future (typically at least 10 days). The last day of trading for the May 2020 contract, for instance, was April 21, with physical delivery occurring between May 1 and May 31. Some market participants, however, may prefer more immediate delivery than a NYMEX WTI futures contract provides. Consequently, these market participants will instead turn to shorter-term spot price alternatives.
Taken together, these attributes help to explain the variety of prices used in the North American crude oil market. These markers price most of the crude oils commonly used by U.S. buyers and cover a wide geographic area.
Principal contributor: Jesse Barnett