The industry is reeling from the effects of a ‘promote me or I’ll leave mentality’, according to a new white paper.
The paper, produced by K.D. Marine, discussed the skills shortage, projected production, cost efficiencies and the sector’s transient culture.
Motivated by the most recent down cycle, managing director Hamish Peterson gathered experts from both operators and service companies to discuss and debate a way forward for the North Sea sector.
Speaking of the paper’s findings, the company leader said: “The frustrations around the current state of the industry were evident. We have an industry which had grown complacent having to come to terms with a much more difficult economic environment.
“We’re not going to solve all our issues overnight, but I would hope that the outcomes from our discussion would act as the starting point to the establishment of more efficient processes.”
One of the first ports of call for the industry is to reevaluate when and how it uses the word ‘senior’ in a job title, according to the industry leader.
“I don’t think anybody that’s 26-years-old has the ability to be called senior,” he said.
“You need to have 20 years experience before you get that. The just don’t have the experience or maturity to lead the projects that they are.”
The white paper participants echoed his sentiment.
One operator said: “It’s all about people, and having the right people. But there are some that are being hired into the industry now who in reality don’t know one end of a spanner from the other. Yes they have a degree, but when we have a technical discussion with them there is no real engineering base. It’s like a language barrier.”
The findings labeled the current skills challenge “frightening”, stating “this is an issue the industry has created for itself through a combination of poor on-job supervision, a lack of continued training and assessment, employers not investing correctly in the recruitment process and accelerated promotion without enough background and experience to merit it”.
Peterson warned time was running out to leverage the wealth of knowledge experienced engineers have as most head into retirement age.
The recent oil price slide also highlighted the need for companies to complete their inspection, repair and maintenance (IRM) programmes in anticipation of a price rebound.
However, the findings stated “current cost cutting programmes meant some companies were shelving their IRM plans due to financial implications”. The move was labeled “short sighted and foolhardy” by the participants.
One went on to say: “This is the time when we should all be looking to up our IRM work, so that we are ready and on the front foot when the inevitable upswing comes – but some people don’t seem to be able to look that far ahead.”
The paper concluded that the industry simply couldn’t afford to abandon its maintenance plans.
Instead it suggested companies could find costs savings elsewhere, including issuing a ‘three on, three off’ rotation.
The shift in rotation showed a proactive approach on the industry’s behalf – something that has been lacking in the sector for too long according to the paper’s findings.
Reactive planning was costing the industry as much as “25 to 40% waste on projects” according the report.
One participant said: “Everyone knows there is work that needs to be done and we want to do it, but it all seems to be reactive and a last minute rush. Too much of our business is now reactive, which inevitably drives up costs and puts pressure on the supply chain. We try and extract all the information we can at the beginning, but the crucial information, the technical authority, the underwater skills, now you only get them the day before mobilisation. We would crack the planning issue if it was for 2016, but not for next month, next week or tomorrow.”
Peterson plans to a produce a follow-up paper in six months’ time. He said swift, credible action must follow meaningful industry discussion.
Peterson added: “It’s clear that the industry needs to work a lot smarter. The topics we discussed are of huge importance and I’d like to revisit them in six months’ time – to see what changes we’ve been able to implement and to further review ways towards smarter working.”
K.D. Marine has a 25-year record of providing the offshore oil and gas industry with safe, reliable and cost-effective underwater intervention and contactor services in the most demanding and challenging of environments.