The energy sector is evolving and accepting best practices from other industries with an overall focus on efficiency and continuous improvements. The Human Resources Department plays a critical role in driving these internal activities as well as the growth and expansion of an organization.
Despite the intrinsic volatile nature of this industry, HR function has a deep implication to steer the overall productivity of the business. Overcoming the various challenges, ensuring sound HR practices and strategies can thus develop strong talent culture and a more resilient organization.
Recruitment: Attracting and retaining Talents in a unique sector
The energy industry is unlike any other. It is primarily a field-based industry, and it requires a mental attitude that cannot be compared to the practice of a regular desk job. The jobs demand a combination of mental skills and physical resilience that would sustain the employees even in most difficult working environments. In spite of fantastic financial incentives, the hostile work environment and the inherent risks of the job might prove to be the key roadblock for the HR team to promote job satisfaction.
One of the trickiest challenges for HR executives would be retaining their top talents and finding suitable replacements in case of attrition. The company makes a considerable investment to train and groom the recruits to become subject matter experts in due course of time. Thus the HR team needs a long-term and sustainable approach towards managing the work-life balance of these employees, provide timely rewards & recognitions, and bring in the sense of empowerment by upskilling them.
Dynamic Industry Requirements
The energy industry is highly competitive and its working depends on many extraneous factors. Therefore, the industry has a dynamic approach inbuilt into its management practices.
The HR executives usually find it difficult to evolve a long-term framework because of the changes being effected in the management strategies of the industry. This not only greatly affects the delivery but also makes them apprehensive about following long-time HR policies.
Information technology has now become an integral part of the industry and has opened up many new job profiles, such as data analysts, automation engineers, software engineers etc. The HR strategy should dynamically change to support the technological advancement in each business groups and develop leaders who can translate business needs into digital solutions.
Diversity: Maintaining gender balance and multi-cultural workforce
Professionals from different corners of the world come to work in foreign countries, sometimes in remote and isolated locations. Working in these locations and away from family for long periods of time has an effect on the motivation levels. Adapting local culture, climate and food sometimes pose a challenge for these employees. Mid-career retirement is not a new thing for employees of both genders.
The HR has to drive interactive sessions, motivational work groups, and discussion forums to enable early detection of demotivation and prompt resolution.
Capacity building at new sites:
Any new oil and gas project is a huge commitment of capital and resources. Human resources managers are under huge pressure to make a project fully operational as the talent search for a new project is even more difficult than the established ones.
Apart from identifying suitable employees, the HR managers are also responsible for creating a suitable work environment for every employee recruited for the new project. This is an absolutely critical factor for the long-term growth and success of the new site.
The HR function is key to helping organizations in the dynamic oil and gas sector survive and even thrive amidst downturns. More importantly, they must ensure that the organizations are well positioned for the turnaround.
While the harsh on-site terrains of oil and gas industry set a huge challenge for the HR executives to keep the employee motivation level high, there are several rewarding experiences for an employee to be lured into this industry.
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 11 February 2019 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$52/b
Headlines of the week
Midstream & Downstream
Global liquid fuels
Electricity, coal, renewables, and emissions
2018 was a year that started with crude prices at US$62/b and ended at US$46/b. In between those two points, prices had gently risen up to peak of US$80/b as the oil world worried about the impact of new American sanctions on Iran in September before crashing down in the last two months on a rising tide of American production. What did that mean for the financial health of the industry over the last quarter and last year?
Nothing negative, it appears. With the last of the financial results from supermajors released, the world’s largest oil firms reported strong profits for Q418 and blockbuster profits for the full year 2018. Despite the blip in prices, the efforts of the supermajors – along with the rest of the industry – to keep costs in check after being burnt by the 2015 crash has paid off.
ExxonMobil, for example, may have missed analyst expectations for 4Q18 revenue at US$71.9 billion, but reported a better-than-expected net profit of US$6 billion. The latter was down 28% y-o-y, but the Q417 figure included a one-off benefit related to then-implemented US tax reform. Full year net profit was even better – up 5.7% to US$20.8 billion as upstream production rose to 4.01 mmboe/d – allowing ExxonMobil to come close to reclaiming its title of the world’s most profitable oil company.
But for now, that title is still held by Shell, which managed to eclipse ExxonMobil with full year net profits of US$21.4 billion. That’s the best annual results for the Anglo-Dutch firm since 2014; product of the deep and painful cost-cutting measures implemented after. Shell’s gamble in purchasing the BG Group for US$53 billion – which sparked a spat of asset sales to pare down debt – has paid off, with contributions from LNG trading named as a strong contributor to financial performance. Shell’s upstream output for 2018 came in at 3.78 mmb/d and the company is also looking to follow in the footsteps of ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP in the Permian, where it admits its footprint is currently ‘a bit small’.
Shell’s fellow British firm BP also reported its highest profits since 2014, doubling its net profits for the full year 2018 on a 65% jump in 4Q18 profits. It completes a long recovery for the firm, which has struggled since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, allowing it to focus on the future – specifically US shale through the recent US$10.5 billion purchase of BHP’s Permian assets. Chevron, too, is focusing on onshore shale, as surging Permian output drove full year net profit up by 60.8% and 4Q18 net profit up by 19.9%. Chevron is also increasingly focusing on vertical integration again – to capture the full value of surging Texas crude by expanding its refining facilities in Texas, just as ExxonMobil is doing in Beaumont. French major Total’s figures may have been less impressive in percentage terms – but that it is coming from a higher 2017 base, when it outperformed its bigger supermajor cousins.
So, despite the year ending with crude prices in the doldrums, 2018 seems to be proof of Big Oil’s ability to better weather price downturns after years of discipline. Some of the control is loosening – major upstream investments have either been sanctioned or planned since 2018 – but there is still enough restraint left over to keep the oil industry in the black when trends turn sour.
Supermajor Net Profits for 4Q18 and 2018
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$6 billion (-28%);
- 2018 – Net profit US$20.8 (+5.7%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$5.69 billion (+32.3%);
- 2018 – Net profit US$21.4 billion (+36%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$3.73 billion (+19.9%);
- 2018 – Net profit US$14.8 billion (+60.8%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$3.48 billion (+65%);
- 2018 - Net profit US$12.7 billion (+105%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$3.88 billion (+16%);
- 2018 - Net profit US$13.6 billion (+28%)