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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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 18 March 2019 – Brent: US$67/b; WTI: US$58/b
Headlines of the week
Midstream & Downstream
Risk and reward – improving recovery rates versus exploration
A giant oil supply gap looms. If, as we expect, oil demand peaks at 110 million b/d in 2036, the inexorable decline of fields in production or under development today creates a yawning gap of 50 million b/d by the end of that decade.
How to fill it? It’s the preoccupation of the E&P sector. Harry Paton, Senior Analyst, Global Oil Supply, identifies the contribution from each of the traditional four sources.
1. Reserve growth
An additional 12 million b/d, or 24%, will come from fields already in production or under development. These additional reserves are typically the lowest risk and among the lowest cost, readily tied-in to export infrastructure already in place. Around 90% of these future volumes break even below US$60 per barrel.
2. pre-drill tight oil inventory and conventional pre-FID projects
They will bring another 12 million b/d to the party. That’s up on last year by 1.5 million b/d, reflecting the industry’s success in beefing up the hopper. Nearly all the increase is from the Permian Basin. Tight oil plays in North America now account for over two-thirds of the pre-FID cost curve, though extraction costs increase over time. Conventional oil plays are a smaller part of the pre-FID wedge at 4 million b/d. Brazil deep water is amongst the lowest cost resource anywhere, with breakevens eclipsing the best tight oil plays. Certain mature areas like the North Sea have succeeded in getting lower down the cost curve although volumes are small. Guyana, an emerging low-cost producer, shows how new conventional basins can change the curve.
3. Contingent resource
These existing discoveries could deliver 11 million b/d, or 22%, of future supply. This cohort forms the next generation of pre-FID developments, but each must overcome challenges to achieve commerciality.
Last, but not least, yet-to-find. We calculate new discoveries bring in 16 million b/d, the biggest share and almost one-third of future supply. The number is based on empirical analysis of past discovery rates, future assumptions for exploration spend and prospectivity.
Can yet-to-find deliver this much oil at reasonable cost? It looks more realistic today than in the recent past. Liquids reserves discovered that are potentially commercial was around 5 billion barrels in 2017 and again in 2018, close to the late 2030s ‘ask’. Moreover, exploration is creating value again, and we have argued consistently that more companies should be doing it.
But at the same time, it’s the high-risk option, and usually last in the merit order – exploration is the final top-up to meet demand. There’s a danger that new discoveries – higher cost ones at least – are squeezed out if demand’s not there or new, lower-cost supplies emerge. Tight oil’s rapid growth has disrupted the commercialisation of conventional discoveries this decade and is re-shaping future resource capture strategies.
To sustain portfolios, many companies have shifted away from exclusively relying on exploration to emphasising lower risk opportunities. These mostly revolve around commercialising existing reserves on the books, whether improving recovery rates from fields currently in production (reserves growth) or undeveloped discoveries (contingent resource).
Emerging technology may pose a greater threat to exploration in the future. Evolving technology has always played a central role in boosting expected reserves from known fields. What’s different in 2019 is that the industry is on the cusp of what might be a technological revolution. Advanced seismic imaging, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, the cloud and supercomputing will shine a light into sub-surface’s dark corners.
Combining these and other new applications to enhance recovery beyond tried-and-tested means could unlock more reserves from existing discoveries – and more quickly than we assume. Equinor is now aspiring to 60% from its operated fields in Norway. Volume-wise, most upside may be in the giant, older, onshore accumulations with low recovery factors (think ExxonMobil and Chevron’s latest Permian upgrades). In contrast, 21st century deepwater projects tend to start with high recovery factors.
If global recovery rates could be increased by a percentage or two from the average of around 30%, reserves growth might contribute another 5 to 6 million b/d in the 2030s. It’s just a scenario, and perhaps makes sweeping assumptions. But it’s one that should keep conventional explorers disciplined and focused only on the best new prospects.
Global oil supply through 2040
Things just keep getting more dire for Venezuela’s PDVSA – once a crown jewel among state energy firms, and now buried under debt and a government in crisis. With new American sanctions weighing down on its operations, PDVSA is buckling. For now, with the support of Russia, China and India, Venezuelan crude keeps flowing. But a ghost from the past has now come back to haunt it.
In 2007, Venezuela embarked on a resource nationalisation programme under then-President Hugo Chavez. It was the largest example of an oil nationalisation drive since Iraq in 1972 or when the government of Saudi Arabia bought out its American partners in ARAMCO back in 1980. The edict then was to have all foreign firms restructure their holdings in Venezuela to favour PDVSA with a majority. Total, Chevron, Statoil (now Equinor) and BP agreed; ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips refused. Compensation was paid to ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, which was considered paltry. So the two American firms took PDVSA to international arbitration, seeking what they considered ‘just value’ for their erstwhile assets. In 2012, ExxonMobil was awarded some US$260 million in two arbitration awards. The dispute with ConocoPhillips took far longer.
In April 2018, the International Chamber of Commerce ruled in favour of ConocoPhillips, granting US$2.1 billion in recovery payments. Hemming and hawing on PDVSA’s part forced ConocoPhillips’ hand, and it began to seize control of terminals and cargo ships in the Caribbean operated by PDVSA or its American subsidiary Citgo. A tense standoff – where PDVSA’s carriers were ordered to return to national waters immediately – was resolved when PDVSA reached a payment agreement in August. As part of the deal, ConocoPhillips agreed to suspend any future disputes over the matter with PDVSA.
The key word being ‘future’. ConocoPhillips has an existing contractual arbitration – also at the ICC – relating to the separate Corocoro project. That decision is also expected to go towards the American firm. But more troubling is that a third dispute has just been settled by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes tribunal in favour of ConocoPhillips. This action was brought against the government of Venezuela for initiating the nationalisation process, and the ‘unlawful expropriation’ would require a US$8.7 billion payment. Though the action was brought against the government, its coffers are almost entirely stocked by sales of PDVSA crude, essentially placing further burden on an already beleaguered company. A similar action brought about by ExxonMobil resulted in a US$1.4 billion payout; however, that was overturned at the World Bank in 2017.
But it might not end there. The danger (at least on PDVSA’s part) is that these decisions will open up floodgates for any creditors seeking damages against Venezuela. And there are quite a few, including several smaller oil firms and players such as gold miner Crystallex, who is owed US$1.2 billion after the gold industry was nationalised in 2011. If the situation snowballs, there is a very tempting target for creditors to seize – Citgo, PDVSA’s crown jewel that operates downstream in the USA, which remains profitable. And that would be an even bigger disaster for PDVSA, even by current standards.
Infographic: Venezuela oil nationalisation dispute timeline