Oil and Gas Titan Interview #1
As drillers.com grows and evolves, we’re constantly thinking of new ideas and resources that might bring value to our readers. We’re in an industry that likes to promote from within, and rewards experience. The number of people that grow, thrive and prosper must be quite high in the oil and gas industry as compared to others.
There’s great value to be found in reading about other peoples experiences, especially the more longstanding and successful ones. Reading interviews or biographies of industry titans such as John D. Rockefeller, John Paul Getty or Jack Welch have inspired generation after generation of new industry entrants – As well as those who aren’t quite so new!
So, we’re going to post interviews from time to time. We can’t promise any scoops such as Rex Tillerson or Harold Hamm, but as you know, most oil industry titans are not famous outside of the industry.
Here’s our first titan interview, with Dave Taylor…
Q) You’ve been in the oil and gas industry a long time, how did you get started?
If my dad would’ve had his way, I probably wouldn’t have got started. He was in Drilling from 1947-1982 and when he heard that I was going to study to be a Petroleum Engineer, I might as well have said that I was gonna’ pee in his rum!
If he’d been still alive, he would be chuckling to think (70 years on) there’s still a major disconnect between the “Petroleum Engineers” and the Drillers. As he would have said, “It was ever thus!”
However: I remember being a kid in the 60s playing in the bush in Trinidad amongst the discarded (steam rig) boilers. Then in Nigeria in the 1970 shortly after a major conflict. In the 70s, we were the first Western family to re-enter Basra after the nationalisation of 1958 and seeing the rigs hauled across the desert scrub with the masts up. I also remember Qatar and the transition of three companies from the original IPC family and the transformation of the desert kingdom …
I wasn’t about to be put off the industry that I already knew so well. So I Studied a Bsc in Petroleum Engineering 1979-1982 at the Imperial College, London.
Q) Please give our readers a brief overview of your career and experience.
Brief! I don’t do brief, but here goes, I’ll try…
Chevron UK London: 1982-1983, Reservoir Engineer for Ninian Field.
Chevron UK Aberdeen: I was transferred against by will, but it was probably one of the best moves I ever made. 1993-1985. Petroleum Engineer. I got a glimpse of the offshore life when we used to go offshore to oversee Production Logging.
Shell UK: 1985-1996. I joined Shell to get (much-needed) offshore experience, initially as a Wellsite Drilling Petroleum Engineer. Then served as a Drilling Engineer for 5 years, then back offshore as a Drilling Supervisor.
Hess UK: 1996-2000. Drilling Superintendent for semi-subs drilling exploration and development wells. I was fortunate enough to have a team that performed beyond all expectations and management that supported ‘going for gold’ rather than promoted ‘fear of failure’. In the last major downturn, we were given the opportunity to develop an in-house performance programme, based on Technical Limit, and I was hooked.
2000 Onwards: Set up on my own, initially within BP’s Magnus team. Was astonished to see what can happen when you create an Enabling Environment to harness the skills and energy of teams. I set up Relentless Pursuit of Perfection Ltd. in 2000 and branched out fully in 2001. We’ve had the pleasure of interacting with 186 wells teams in 58 operators in 37 countries.
Q) Was there ever a defining moment, where you realised that you had mastered your trade, and could make a real difference?
In 2000, when Hess drilled their Goldeneye well and it turned in 37% better than the previous well and within a whisker of Shell’s Goldeneye well, bearing in mind that Shell had been ‘doing’ Technical Limit (DTL) for at least 5 years and had a Global Corporate Team on the case.
… And at one of our Workshops when a delegate suggested towing the rig backwards. When challenged by the Rig Mover who stated it as a silly idea and what do you know, to which he answered, “We’ve done it before. Oh, and by the way, I’m the OIM”
At that moment I realised that:
In every workplace you hear the threads of joy and fear and love and guilt and the cries for celebration and re-assurance. Somehow you know that all you’re supposed to do is bring these together and that business will take care of Itself.
Q) You are also the owner of SPREAD and Relentless Pursuit of Perfection Ltd which is a drilling performance agency. It seems that between the 3 websites, you cover most aspects of drilling and well engineering. Are you stopping here, or do you have further expansion plans?
We don’t have any plans for other sites, but are developing links with others who are equally good at what they do. And our vision is that drillers.com will become the gateway to ‘providing all your needs in the upstream oil & gas industry’. We already have a several private investors lined up.
Q) Who is SPREAD for? Who benefits most from it?
It’s for members to connect with a network that’s probably outside their regular ones (company, social media) so that they can gain knowledge from the widest possible sources. We’ve over 500 organisations signed up, plus over 100 SPREAD Associates (consultants) and I’m always amazed how many approach us.
It’s moderated (I’m the gate-keeper) and we regularly spring-clean if emails bounce back as people move on; each member is an emotional contact so we try to track them down using social media.
It’s also designed to minimise the effort involved in ‘connecting someone who has a question with the people who have an answer’; we have put a lot of thought into that.
Q) How can people get the most out of my-spread? Do you have any tips to aid user experience?
Here are a few suggestions when using the site:
- If posting a question, please provide as much detail as possible – That will intrigue members and prick their professional interest.
- Try to avoid giving the impression that you are too lazy to have done some simple research before posting the question – That is probably the biggest complaint that we get.
- Try to ask at least one question a year – Between 2000+ members this keeps the forum fresh!
Q) What are your future plans for my-spread?
We continue to work on enhancing the user experience – feedback and ideas are always welcomed.
Here are a few of the many recent website updates:
- Tablet and smart-phone functionality. (Responsive on any device)
- Can add personal email address as well as work email, then configure preferences. (For alerts)
- Can elect to receive less-frequent emails. (Daily, weekly, category based)
- Questions get posted on Social Media such as LinkedIn: this also raises the profile of members.
- Private Section for clients teams to share behind a firewall. (Private company forums!)
- Link with questions asked on other (professional) industry sites.
- An emergency alert service for fast high priority responses.
Q) Who is more valuable, the person just out of college educated with the very latest information? Or the 40 year industry veteran who has seen everything, but might not be completely up to date on best practices and technology?
In my opinion, both are valuable. The key is to always keep your mind open to possibilities.
Q) We must be closer to the end, than the beginning of this industry downturn. Are you seeing green shoots? What is your prognosis for 2017 and 2018, based on the conversations that you are having?
We are starting to see confidence return to the sector.
In my humble opinion, it’s not high prices that the industry wants or needs, but stable prices that can be used as the basis for investment decisions.
When prices get too high, a downturn is good for the industry as it drives out waste, clears the deck, and reminds us that we need to work hard to earn a profit and that this is not a windfall industry.
At rp-squared we’re seeing a lot more enquiries recently, and I can’t help but feel that this year will be good, with 2018 even better as companies start to rebuild in a low-price environment; they’ll need our performance services more than ever.
As my dad would have said ….
(Would you like to be featured in our Oil and Gas titan Interviews? Get in touch!)
Serial Energy Entrepreneur. Webmaster at drillers.com. Founder of Out of the Box Innovations Ltd. Co-Founder of Natural Resource Professionals Ltd. Traveller and Outdoorsman, Husband, Father. Technology/Internet Geek.