This year’s survey – #Oil17:New World Order comes with a health warning. Despite the rumble of recovery in the near distance, the industry expects another year of pain.
Pain is something we all suffer at some stage, but respond to in different ways. Last year I injured a calf muscle. I had the choice of resting it and seeing what happened or engaging in a regime of physio with the side benefit of increasing my fitness. We can either let pain define us or drive us. I believe that in the oil and gas sector, we will let it drive us.
I am just reading an article about the Volkswagen group. Their profits have soared. That’s not despite the well-publicised emissions issue. Arguably, it’s because of it. VW confronted the impact by streamlining vehicle development, reducing complexity in parts and dropping unprofitable models while also investing in a new range of leading edge electric cars.
When I was on the Energy Voice panel at OTC on Tuesday, I likened the situation to the Road Runner cartoon. The eponymous bird keeps his speed up and gets across the canyon, while Wile E Coyote gets half way across, looks down, panics and plummets. Now is the time to look forward, not down.
Technology was something that used to be confined to the boiler-room; now it is front and centre of the boardroom. In the oil and gas industry, we will see technology increasingly driving further efficiencies – 3D printing will provide parts when and where required; Big Data will create predictive maintenance regimes with drones and robots facilitating repairs remotely and safely.
That will require long term investment – both in the kit and in a generation of highly skilled people who can design and operate it. Coders and software developers will be every bit as important as engineers. There will be a need to develop right-sized, future-shaped teams to deliver these services.
I am the eternal optimist. Arguably, the industry is on the long road to a better place. And while perhaps there will be another year of pain, that is not to say that this means there will be no excitement along the way. As examples, over the last few months we have seen new investors into the North Sea such as Delek from Israel and the planned merger of the Wood Group and Amec Foster Wheeler to create a real global force.
There is an expression – “Uber or be Ubered”. It’s a truism that the past is never the future. So, let’s embrace the New World Order and the opportunities it brings.