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Andy Samuel: How I struggled to get into the oil and gas industry during major downturn

Andy Samuel, OGA chief executive
Andy Samuel, OGA chief executive

The career of the man who is charged helping right the industry’s wrongs started with a rejection letter.

Oil and Gas Authority chief executive Andy Samuel revealed his first attempt to get in the industry was a non-starter.

In fact he made several attempts at getting a job before taking the decision to go back to university.

“Nobody was hiring,” he said.

“It was 1994 so right in one of the declines. Luckily, Cambridge liked me and asked me to do a post doc.”

When probed how many knock-backs he took before taking a year out for study, the industry leader laughed before admitting: “More than one.”

The experience means that as he works to push the industry forward, he is conscious of the younger generation who are feeling left behind in the current low-oil price environment.

“The post doc gave me a contact with BG Group and they later hired me so the patience later paid off.”

His advice to the next generation: “These downturns are part of the oil commodity cycle but things do recover and they often recover very quickly and I think it’s a great industry. It’s a noble industry in that people need energy to develop.

“This is an industry with still a long way to go but I would also say the skills are highly transferable, so if you get in the industry you’ll have a lot of fun, you’ll make a difference and you’ll have lots of different options going forward.”

But going forward includes a vast cultural change.

Andy added: “There is definitely now some tangible, good examples of positive behavioural changes and we will celebrate some of those at the MER UK awards, which we will confirm in November.

“Where is the tipping point and where it becomes more the norm? I don’t know but we’ll know when we get there.

“Why do I say that? Well, I think I enjoy a very open and honest direct relationship with colleagues both on the operator and service side of things.

“Many of them come into my office or I visit for them and they tell me how it is.

“At the moment for every positive story there is still perhaps a negative story so we’re not quite over that.

“But what’s really good is that they’re telling me because they’re hoping I can make a difference.”

When probed for an example of how ingrained behaviour can be changed, Samuel added: “So company ‘X’ has come and said I’m really worried company ‘Y’ is going to behave in the usual bad way and value is going to be lost.

“I call up company ‘Y’ and first of all the senior people weren’t always aware of what was happening. I would like to think knowing that we’re aware and keeping a close eye is making a difference.

“Then company ‘X’ calls me back a couple of weeks later and says ‘I didn’t know what you did but the issue has gone away’.”

“The difference will be when people don’t have to call me at all and it has become an embedded behaviour. I think people are seeing this isn’t going to change.”

For more from Andy Samuel, including what he thinks is the biggest difference of this Offshore Europe, check back tomorrow.

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