Oil and Gas Titan Interview #3
Q) You’ve been in the oil and gas industry a long time, how did you get started?
Well that is a question, usually one with a very long answer… A story that is often amusingly part of conversations with new and old friends; and for obvious reasons a story that I like to tell. Why? Because, it has a happy ending. It ends, with a satisfying life in the oil industry.
It all starts with me aspiring to become a university professor. After two years in the masters program, I was offered a chance. YESSS! Finally the moment I was waiting for, and at the right time, with my scholarship soon to expire. I needed the income, already had a family of my own, but (this is the big “but”- the one that changes everything) due to processing, the first salary? Not before nine months!
Believe me, the choice was easy. I said to myself – Lad, look for paid work! That I did, and after a year as a quality engineer in a manufacturing plant Dowell Schlumberger hired me as quality engineer. At the time, my main responsibility involved the implementation of ISO 9000 in DS. This was 1996.
A couple of years later, during my first industry downturn I realised that for me, it was an opportunity not a calamity. I was transferred to the cementing field engineer program and ‘voila’ 21 years later it’s the profession that I still love.
Q) Please give our readers a brief overview of your career and experience.
As mentioned, I started in 1996 as a quality engineer, then worked from FE to other roles in operations and technical management in almost every location in Venezuela. At that moment Venezuela was one of the busiest places to be in the oil industry worldwide.
In 2004 I moved to work in the middle east (Kuwait) for a around a year. When an opportunity as in-house engineer for Conoco-Philips offshore opened in Venezuela, it was one I immediately took (excellent team!! Best friends!!) I Performed as DESC until 2007.
Already acting as a cementing technical manager for Venezuela, I moved to Mexico South (my second home). This was my greatest professional challenge so far. The job had the right combination of complex wells, a difficult work environment and challenging targets, but an excellent team altogether.
During this time, every single job was high profile. I had learned a great deal and it finally paid off. We developed practices and procedures that turned potential failures to immediate successes. This was the most fruitful time overall, in my career. Because of this and all the time before, I will always be a very proud former Schlumberger employee.
Then, in 2012, a new challenge knocked on my door. An offer to be a cementing specialist in one of the largest oil fields in the world. I joined the Rumaila joint venture as a BP-sourced contractor. Soon, I came to realise that being there was not just an honour, it was an opportunity to work with a really great team. An amazing group of people from different backgrounds and cultures, that still today I can call my friends…
In 2016, my 2nd downturn, again an opportunity. This time to adapt and reinvent myself. My work through ‘Better Cementing For All‘ started. I’ve successfully helped to deliver projects in Nigeria, UAE, Australia, Algeria and Poland. Each one of them, a great experience with incredible people.
Q) Was there ever a defining moment, where you realised that you had mastered your trade, and could make a real difference?
Yes, definitely in Mexico. At that moment, there were no existing best practices for the complex technical problems that we faced. We developed our own. This produced a staggering increase in efficiency not seeing before in the area.
In Mexico, I understood, that each well is special, they ‘talk’ and tell what they need all the time, sometimes loud and clear, other times more quietly. We just need to listen carefully; with the tools we have. Do not always enforce the ‘as per the book’ complex. Always be ready to adapt, develop and deliver in accordance with the demands of the well.
Q) You are also the owner of Better-Well-Cementing-For-All.org which is a fluids and cementing informational resource and agency. Who is it for? Who benefits most from it?
http://better-cementing-for-all.org is a place to share knowledge and experience. Before it, when people looked for well cementing information, it was always either a site with only basic cementing knowledge (Yes ! Cement primarily goes in the annulus … and you do that by this and that … ) Or consulting companies charging high fees.
On the website, and through follow up correspondence, we’re proud to answer technical and operational questions for free. We also publish technical articles with unique information not available in books. This benefits everybody, including students, young engineers, experts in other areas, professionals, etc.
For more complicated or longer projects, we just deliver. Right on time or before, exactly what you requested and more. We don’t just tell you what happened. We explain, walk through and guide you through the whole process, so it becomes your knowledge.
If you’re overloaded by your daily work, and you want to get the most out of a recent event… Or perhaps you just want to select the best solution for your project… But you don’t have the time or manpower to do it. We can deliver, We will deliver.
Q) How can people get the most out Better-Well-Cementing-For-All.com? Do you have any tips to aid user experience?
Like any blog, better-cementing-for-all.org only gets better through peoples involvement, comments and feedback.
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?
From my experience, what is more valuable is to have the college-educated person and the 40-year industry veteran working together. Both of them, with their minds open, willing to collaborate. This is the real value in our industry, people working together creating knowledge.
The true value of a veteran is to eventually become obsolete, when he or she is no longer needed because their knowledge has been transmitted to the next generation. Some companies unfortunately break that link, releasing the veteran due to market conditions, sending those organizations back in learning-years.
Q) Most executives and leaders who have held different key positions in various organizations go through a similar evolution. They want success which can mean career, financial or involve peer recognition. Then they want a list of accomplishments that give them satisfaction.
At some point, the finite nature of life comes into awareness and they realize that a legacy might be important. What are your thoughts on this?
In every single place I’ve worked, I’ve left detailed documents with all the practices and procedures developed during my contract. These contain practices that I know are carried forward and improved in time. That’s the legacy that I continue to leave, improved organizations formed by empowered individuals solving problems.
Q) You’re from Venezuela, and are now a resident in Europe. The oil and gas industry has given you an opportunity to travel and work all over the world. Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, and you are one of the top well cementing experts.
Politics aside, can you see a day that you live back in your home country, and the country fulfills its energy producing potential?
This is a very good question, Thanks. I not only see the day that I can live back in my home country, I know that day is coming. Venezuelans always overcome their challenges, sooner or later.
We can be at times stubborn people who just don’t let go of the things we believe in, but we all love our country and our way of life. We need to realize that we are closer than we think.
The biggest change in life, for a person or a country, is not the change we think we need; it’s the change we inadvertently called for. God on our side, better days will come for all !
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