ROVs are an integral part of offshore installation inspection in oil and gas but it isn’t just our industry that benefits from ROV technology and research. The robotic underwater explorers have been fundamental in historic discoveries of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Christmas day is over for another year and for many of us today is about eating leftovers and watching telly or braving shopping sales out on the high street. Boxing Day is also known as the start of the strange limbo period between Christmas and new year where we easily forget what day it is and consider renewing our gym memberships.
We are at the end of January, which is rarely an easy month to get through. The festivities have passed leaving funds and spirits low. This year has also started at a lower point than others with the oil and gas industry experiencing serious challenges as oil prices have continued to drop, causing anxiety for many people. As with any period of difficulty where an industry may find itself tested, a lot of advice opinions are available and it is hard to make sense of it all.
The oil and gas industry might not one immediately associated with Christmas, but whist the home fires are burning and presents are being wrapped, hundreds of men and women will be working offshore to ensure we all have a holly, jolly and well fuelled Christmas. There are even a few reminders of the festive season all year round for those braving cold North Sea platforms in the winter.
The late Steve Jobs predicted one day that tablets would outsell traditional personal computers. This year, for the first time, tablets are expected to outsell PCs and prove what Jobs theorised with the launch of the first iPad- exactly five years ago today.
It may be hard to believe, but this weekend in the UK the clocks go forward one hour to mark the start of British Summer. Where did the time go?
Some people disagree with the tradition of the clocks falling back in October and springing forward in March with lobbyists calling for a permanent daylight savings time to keep us in line with Central European Time.
The issue is a contentious one, not least because of how it would affect daylight for many people in Scotland where the winter sun wouldn’t rise until 10am in some places, but also because of the impact it could have on how we work through the day.
In business, time can represent many different things. For some, time is money, a commodity to be traded. For others, time is something there is never enough of. No matter your mindset, when you glance at a clock one thing is for certain; time is not something to be wasted.
Time management can make a major difference to how individuals and teams operate within a business. It isn’t difficult to pick up new tips on how to make better use of your day, especially when helpful advice is just a Google search away.
Our approach to providing solutions in the oil and gas industry is to challenge the conventional and embrace a new approach to a task. When it comes to making a difference to how we manage time as well as heeding traditional advice, such as maintaining a work calendar, we should think laterally and find solutions that better suit ourselves.
Below are our time saving, organisational tips. What are yours?
1. Schedule time to make time: Approach the few minutes you need to organise your day or week as if it were a highly important business meeting and don’t allow interruptions.
2. Prioritise: It’s all too easy to get drawn into a dozen different tasks. Spreading yourself too thin is likely to mean you achieve less so select the most important task and focus on it until complete before moving on,
3. Be organised: How much time do you waste searching for data or that important email you know you saw but now can’t find? Don’t underestimate the benefit of a simple, structured system that allows you to find what you need at the click of a button.
Today marks the birthday of nineteenth century mechanical engineer, Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 –1915) whose Principles of Scientific Management, published in 1911, was the first observation and study of a workforce and how to improve its efficiency.
It’s been over 100 years since Taylor recognised the need to dispel the myth that working at a consistently high production rate would result in there not being enough work to go around. Efficiency is still at the heart of industry production, as it was in the early 1900s.
Early on in his career Taylor worked at a steelworks where he observed many men soldiering, meaning they were working at the slowest possible rate they could without receiving any punishment for being unproductive. This behaviour of intentionally restricting the effort put into work was resulting in lower productivity than was achievable, and was widespread.
Taylor recognised the need to reassess management and how a project is approached by those who are in charge of it to improve its output. Using his own personal experience working as a labourer and then manager in manufacturing, Taylor established four key rules for a more efficient business process, which he laid out in his Principles of Scientific Management. The main four principles were:
- Replace working by “rule of thumb,” or simple habit and common sense, and instead use the scientific method to study work and determine the most efficient way to perform specific tasks.
- Rather than simply assign workers to just any job, match workers to their jobs based on capability and motivation, and train them to work at maximum efficiency.
- Monitor worker performance, and provide instructions and supervision to ensure that they’re using the most efficient ways of working.
- Allocate the work between managers and workers so that the managers spend their time planning and training, allowing the workers to perform their tasks efficiently.
These points are not flawless, and have received criticism over the past century, but despite that Taylor’s four principles are still used by management staff today.
At the heart of these principles is a school of thought that is still relevant and is ideal to apply to the oil and gas industry. Breaking habits and experimenting scientifically to determine a new method of working can lead to greater productivity and reward both management and a workforce in equal measure.
The North Sea oil and gas sector has had a testing few months, with a plummet in oil price and a long wait for tax changes to support future business. We have spoken about the need for more collaboration and shared working, something which the industry has been guilty of failing to do well in previous years. Just as Taylor stepped back and analysed industrial mills, our industry needs to be conscious that we put into action the strategies which we have agreed on in the past few months. Now is the time to stick to our own principles and ensure a more efficient oil and gas industry.
Oil and gas industry sector representatives have been out spoken about much-needed tax breaks for the North Sea industry. It’s no surprise that meetings with the Shadow Chancellor this week saw senior figures from industry bodies highlighting just how crucial oil and gas is to the UK economy as they called for double digit reductions in supplementary tax charges on the sector.
The oil and gas industry is still the UK’s largest industrial investor, paying more into the exchequer than any other public sector. In 2013 – 2014 the industry paid £4.7 billion in production taxes, but Oil & Gas UK’s Activity Survey 2015 shows that exploration has fallen to levels last seen in the 1970s. The UK industry is now at risk of capital investment falling by £3-4billion per year over the coming three years.
A lot of attention has already fallen on Aberdeen in the month of March. Thousands of delegates have attended the ITF technology showcase in Aberdeen where cutting edge technology from across the industry was on display. The president of Mexico visited Aberdeen whilst on a state visit to the UK. During his time in the Granite City President Enrique Pena Nieto signed a memorandum of understanding on collaboration in the energy sector and said: “2015 will be a very important year in this relationship deal that will allow us to hold different events in both nations.”
At the heart of the president’s words was the message that through collaboration and a clear understanding of needs, significant forward strides can be made to improve any challenging situation. That internationally recognised sentiment is one that many oil and gas sector businesses are hoping rings true closer to home next Wednesday, March 18th – when the Chancellor, George Osborne, announces a highly anticipated budget.
THIS week saw the heads of two of the industry’s most influential bodies give their thoughts on why urgent, positive and collaborative action by all stakeholders -including Government – is needed over the coming months and years to get the oil and gas industry back on its feet.
Monday also saw Andy Samuel officially begin his new role as chief executive of the Oil and Gas Authority, set up as part of the Wood Review into maximising the UK’s offshore oil and gas resources.
We talk about collaboration a lot in our business, not as a theory but as an applied approach to how we work as a company. Working closely with partners is about more than just sharing ideas, it’s about making sure everyone’s voice is heard so we can all stay on track and achieve success together.
Last year we were proud to introduce our exciting new Modular Pipelay System (MPS). We developed MPS through a highly successful working partnership with NOV, whose Zap-lok pipeline connection technology makes this innovational pipeline installation solution possible. As we continue to work together on further development of our technology and make quick progress, we prove that close collaborations yield strong results.
The North Sea oil and gas sector is facing difficulties at the moment, and some of us could be forgiven for focusing on how these circumstances affect us as individuals, above others.
Industry leaders are urging the government to act quickly, make a change in taxation, set up the new regulator, and recognize their responsibility to support our sector. These concerns are real and the need for the industry and government to work together is strongly felt by all.
We must remember though, the recommendation for closer collaboration between the oil and gas sector and government came long before any oil price drop- it came about at the start of 2014 in the final Wood Review publication and was welcomed by all sides involved.
It is fair to say that falling oil prices may have created a sense of urgency to establish clearer lines of communication and stronger ties between the oil and gas industry and government, but the principles of collaboration should be the same as when businesses work together.
Informed decisions lead to the best course of action, so we must collate our knowledge as an industry and communicate it clearly. Some of the proudest moments in the North Sea oil and gas sector have been a result of businesses working together for a stronger outcome. With leading figures appealing to the government for urgent action, we need to encourage and maintain a collaborative approach for lasting success.
Happy New Year! After months of build-up and predictions about the year ahead, 2015 is finally here and the oil and gas industry is being confronted by major challenges. The business which we all know to be cyclical experienced a sharp downturn in recent months and 2014 ended on a rather pessimistic note.
The atmosphere is not ideal, as the ripples of falling oil prices are now being felt by everyone in the industry. But this is a New Year and certain traditions around this time could galvanise many of us to get to work and put the power back into oil and gas.
A lot of us make resolutions in our personal lives for the year ahead and we often struggle to stick to them because we go in alone. Studies have shown time and time again that we are more likely to accomplish something with the support of those around us. Quitting smoking is easier if we do it with a friend, we lose weight when we exercise with friends who challenge us and motivate us, book clubs can encourage us to get round to reading that stack of books we bought during summer; we know that asking for and giving help makes us better. So why don’t we apply that to our work lives?
This New Year, the North Sea oil and gas businesses should make an industry wide resolution to communicate and work together, rather than go it alone without considering our peers. Challenging conventions and being bold has never been more important.
Purse strings have already been tightened across operators and services companies. Pay cuts have hit contractors and staff alike and with salary freezes on many business plans too – 2015 is already looking like one of toughest periods we’ve faced.
The North Sea industry has been very lucky over the past few years though. Where many other businesses have been on the edge, our region has flourished and investment remained steady. Now we find ourselves in a dip and predicting our climb back up is proving tricky.
But we can be confident that we will recover, even though it will take a lot of work to do so. 2015 is starting on a low, but we will finish on a high.