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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Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO)
In its January 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that annual U.S. crude oil production will average 11.1 million b/d in 2021, down 0.2 million b/d from 2020 as result of a decline in drilling activity related to low oil prices. A production decline in 2021 would mark the second consecutive year of production declines. Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic led to supply and demand disruptions. EIA expects crude oil production to increase in 2022 by 0.4 million b/d because of increased drilling as prices remain at or near $50 per barrel (b).
The United States set annual natural gas production records in 2018 and 2019, largely because of increased drilling in shale and tight oil formations. The increase in production led to higher volumes of natural gas in storage and a decrease in natural gas prices. In 2020, marketed natural gas production fell by 2% from 2019 levels amid responses to COVID-19. EIA estimates that annual U.S. marketed natural gas production will decline another 2% to average 95.9 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2021. The fall in production will reverse in 2022, when EIA estimates that natural gas production will rise by 2% to 97.6 Bcf/d.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO)
EIA’s forecast for crude oil production is separated into three regions: the Lower 48 states excluding the Federal Gulf of Mexico (GOM) (81% of 2019 crude oil production), the GOM (15%), and Alaska (4%). EIA expects crude oil production in the U.S. Lower 48 states to decline through the first quarter of 2021 and then increase through the rest of the forecast period. As more new wells come online later in 2021, new well production will exceed the decline in legacy wells, driving the increase in overall crude oil production after the first quarter of 2021.
Associated natural gas production from oil-directed wells in the Permian Basin will fall because of lower West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices and reduced drilling activity in the first quarter of 2021. Natural gas production from dry regions such as Appalachia depends on the Henry Hub price. EIA forecasts the Henry Hub price will increase from $2.00 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2020 to $3.01/MMBtu in 2021 and to $3.27/MMBtu in 2022, which will likely prompt an increase in Appalachia's natural gas production. However, natural gas production in Appalachia may be limited by pipeline constraints in 2021 if the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is delayed. The MVP is scheduled to enter service in late 2021, delivering natural gas from producing regions in northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. Natural gas takeaway capacity in the region is quickly filling up since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was canceled in mid-2020.
Just when it seems that the drama of early December, when the nations of the OPEC+ club squabbled over how to implement and ease their collective supply quotas in 2021, would be repeated, a concession came from the most unlikely quarter of all. Saudi Arabia. OPEC’s swing producer and, especially in recent times, vocal judge, announced that it would voluntarily slash 1 million barrels per day of supply. The move took the oil markets by surprise, sending crude prices soaring but was also very unusual in that it was not even necessary at all.
After a day’s extension to the negotiations, the OPEC+ club had actually already agreed on the path forward for their supply deal through the remainder of Q1 2021. The nations of OPEC+ agreed to ease their overall supply quotas by 75,000 b/d in February and 120,000 b/d in March, bringing the total easing over three months to 695,000 b/d after the UAE spearheaded a revised increase of 500,000 b/d for January. The increases are actually very narrow ones; there were no adjustments for quotas for all OPEC+ members with the exception of Russia and Kazakshtan, who will be able to pump 195,000 additional barrels per day between them. That the increases for February and March were not higher or wider is a reflection of reality: despite Covid-19 vaccinations being rolled out globally, a new and more infectious variant of the coronavirus has started spreading across the world. In fact, there may even be at least of these mutations currently spreading, throwing into question the efficacy of vaccines and triggering new lockdowns. The original schedule of the April 2020 supply deal would have seen OPEC+ adding 2 million b/d of production from January 2021 onwards; the new tranches are far more measured and cognisant of the challenging market.
Then Saudi Arabia decides to shock the market by declaring that the Kingdom would slash an additional million barrels of crude supply above its current quota over February and March post-OPEC+ announcement. Which means that while countries such as Russia, the UAE and Nigeria are working to incrementally increase output, Saudi Arabia is actually subsidising those planned increases by making a massive additional voluntary cut. For a member that threw its weight around last year by unleashing taps to trigger a crude price war with Russia and has been emphasising the need for strict compliant by all members before allowing any collective increases to take place, this is uncharacteristic. Saudi Arabia may be OPEC’s swing producer, but it is certainly not that benevolent. Not least because it is expected to record a massive US$79 billion budget deficit for 2020 as low crude prices eat into the Kingdom’s finances.
So, why is Saudi Arabia doing this?
The last time the Saudis did this was in July 2020, when the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic was at devastating levels and crude prices needed some additional propping up. It succeeded. In January 2021, however, global crude prices are already at the US$50/b level and the market had already cheered the resolution of OPEC+’s positions for the next two months. There was no real urgent need to make voluntary cuts, especially since no other OPEC member would suit especially not the UAE with whom there has been a falling out.
The likeliest reason is leadership. Having failed to convince the rest of the OPEC+ gang to avoid any easing of quotas, Saudi Arabia could be wanting to prove its position by providing a measure of supply security at a time of major price sensitivity due to the Covid-19 resurgence. It will also provide some political ammunition for future negotiations when the group meets in March to decide plans for Q2 2021, turning this magnanimous move into an implicit threat. It could also be the case that Saudi Arabia is planning to pair its voluntary cut with field maintenance works, which would be a nice parallel to the usual refinery maintenance season in Asia where crude demand typically falls by 10-20% as units shut for routine inspections.
It could also be a projection of soft power. After isolating Qatar physically and economically since 2017 over accusations of terrorism support and proximity to Iran, four Middle Eastern states – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt – have agreed to restore and normalise ties with the peninsula. While acknowledging that a ‘trust deficit’ still remained, the accord avoids the awkward workarounds put in place to deal with the boycott and provides for road for cooperation ahead of a change on guard in the White House. Perhaps Qatar is even thinking of re-joining OPEC? As Saudi Arabia flexes its geopolitical muscle, it does need to pick its battles and re-assert its position. Showcasing political leadership as the world’s crude swing producer is as good a way of demonstrating that as any, even if it is planning to claim dues in the future.
It worked. It has successfully changed the market narrative from inter-OPEC+ squabbling to a more stabilised crude market. Saudi Arabia’s patience in prolonging this benevolent role is unknown, but for now, it has achieved what it wanted to achieve: return visibility to the Kingdom as the global oil leader, and having crude oil prices rise by nearly 10%.