Oil Industry – Refilling The Barrel
It seems in each decade between the billions of barrels of oil produced, that there is a cyclical pause, ranging from a controlled slowdown to outright crisis proportions. Headlines such as “1970’s oil price shock”, “Today’s Oil Bust Pales in Comparison to the 80’s” to today’s “Life after Oil: Can Aberdeen Rise Again?”
The industry has endured more than its fair share of boom and bust, but what really causes the problems and who is the biggest victim of the losses?
Economy, Geography and the political landscape all have its part to play in the success in the Oil game, but also a portion of blame for its failures. It’s the workforces that are the victims every time. Cost cutting, lay-offs may be intended only temporary, but as they are repeated, each time for a longer period, those skills become harder to locate and to recall to the pay roll.
If we let history lie and look at the current and future issues the industry is likely to face:
Ageing workforce – predominantly highly skilled and experienced workers are at the upper age limit in the Global Oil & Gas industries. Each boom and bust saga takes us closer to another retirement vis a vis another loss.
Current Skills – those in work now are experienced workers operating to standards and certifications likely to be soon outdated, or outmoded. Certainly, they are skilled with machinery that could well be past its sell by date. Are they at a point in their working life that they are willing to retrain and be instrumental in the constructive changes going forwards?
New skills – hard to find because based on the history, the industry is not encouraging for certain aspects of the workforce. Young people have different ideas and the term engineer or engineering, takes on a whole new meaning to them.
Technology – old, existing and emerging technologies all mean changes in skills, certification and advancement. Whatever the specialist area within the Oil Industry, technology is playing a significant blinder and it is no longer the engine room workers that will be the only victims in the future.
Digital technology has taken hold of the Oil Industry and the acronymic model is commonplace. AI, AR, VR, EQ, AA, PM are becoming familiar board room terms along with predictive, disruptive and collaboration. What does it all mean?
The Oil Industry is under a revolution aimed solely at doing a whole lot more with a whole lot less. Advanced Analytics are deployed to transform the functions such as procurement and project management. Technologies such as drones and equipment sensors revolutionising the monitoring and maintenance functions. The impact of using Advanced Analytics for predicting maintenance, could reduce maintenance costs between 10 and 20%, because vital equipment can be repaired BEFORE it breaks down. This increases the equipment life, reliability and uptime. It’s a game changer in capital expenditure.
Refilling the barrel…? There will always be a place for engine room workers, a hands-on skillset, but it is likely that it will be different skills in a wholly changed environment perhaps called digital engineering innovation; don’t be surprised in the future, if your new colleagues are the robotic kind….
Written by Debby Giglio, Marketing, Information, Data & Strategy for the Oil & Gas Supply Chain. (MIDAS) July 2017.