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Giving people more attention - views from Chevron, BP, USC

Friday, August 31, 2012

Speakers from Chevron, BP and USC talked about the topic of people at the second plenary session of Intelligent Energy - a topic which 'deserves a lot more attention than we usually give it,' said Jim Crompton, manager of Upstream IT Architecture, Chevron

In project report presentations, people often leave a note buried in one slide, where they say, 'the hardest part of the whole thing is around people's mindset,' he said Jim Crompton, manager of Upstream IT Architecture, Chevron, speaking at the 2012 Intelligent Energy Conference in Utecht.

'Normally it gets 1 bullet line.'

There have been suggestions that the industry should create a discipline for people who specialise in making software systems easy to use and helping people get comfortable using them, perhaps called a 'digital engineer', he said.

But it isn't obvious what knowledge such a person should have - they will need a broad understanding of different aspects of the oil and gas industry.

At Chevron, 'we still recruit, manage and organise based on traditional themes, (eg petroleum engineering),' Mr Crompton said. 'We've got long histories that know how to do that.'

'We're starting to create jobs for 'digital engineers', but we have a problem managing their careers.'

Some people's capabilities are best understood as a T-shape, where people need both technical depth in specific subjects, and a broad understanding of different subjects, he said.

'We're beginning to understand these T shaped capabilities,' he said.

People make mistakes

One of the main reasons why people need digital technology is because humans are susceptible to mistakes, said Dr Iraj Ershaghi, head of petroleum engineering and specialist in digital engineering at the University of Southern California.

'We first come up with an estimate of oil in place. We have problem tracking how water pushes the oil out. We miserably fail on forecasting. In facilities management things are in our control, but it still fails. On environmental safety, we can see that sometimes you are taken off guard.'

'We have complex systems, multivariable effects, sometimes inconsistent data sets.'

'That's the kind of culture we have.'

'As we are moving to the future, you have a physical system, a software system and a human system. You have to figure out how to manage these three components,' he said.

Training at BP

Deanna Alaniz, instructional system design director, Upstream Learning, BP, talked about a training program BP has developed for operational geologists.

The program lasts 120 to 180 days, including workplace learning, 'since 80 per cent of what you learn is on your job,' she says.

BP includes staff from some of its main service companies in the training program.

The learning program has an online classroom where people meet virtually, can watch webinars and interact with each other.

'At BP we don't start a learning program until we identify key business drivers,' she said. 'We're trying to build long term career paths.

'We want to develop a community where people can share expertise and learning.'

BP is also experimenting with 3D virtual reality and virtual worlds learning, she said.

Young and old

One audience member said it was a myth that younger staff take to new technology faster than older staff. 'I work with the technology department of my company and we educate our engineering staff,' he said. 'We find that 20 per cent of all our staff, no matter how old they are, grab the technology and run. 10 per cent won't use them regardless, whether they are 20, 50 or 80. Then the middle set will come along with us if we get enough momentum.'

'We need to be cautious about saying older professionals aren't interested.'

Pieter Kapteijn, Director Corporate Technology and Innovation at Maersk, said that in his view the 'world is not divided into young and old generation, but in people with a development mindset and a fixed mindset.'

He also noted that maybe what the industry needs is people with a 'systems' view, rather than a 'digital view'.

Jon Lippe, operational manager of Center for integrated Operations in the Petroleum Industry at NTNU (Trondheim), suggested that maybe oil and gas personnel should be trained to work together in their different roles, like a football team trains.

'Soccer teams spend most of their time training on co-operation and every now and then they play a match,' he said. 'In our industry it is the opposite - they work together then train independently. Perhaps we should go to integrated training?'

Associated Companies
» Chevron
» BP
» Intelligent Energy Event
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