Pandemic shows huge advantages of remote working
By Piers Johnson, Managing Director, OPC
As a person who has always thrived on meeting and networking, I thought I’d hate the lockdown in place in the UK and elsewhere in the world. I thought I would be miserable not being able to meet with clients and contacts, discuss business, build relationships and have a social drink. And yes, while I’m not overjoyed at the pubs being still shut, I can understand the reasons why, and it has enabled me to re-evaluate life and ways of working. No travelling was also initially a very welcome unintended outcome although as we enter our fourth month, I am now ready to travel again – safely when possible. Here are my few thoughts on the current situation and its impact on our industry:
Remote subsurface work is more efficient
For many years we’ve been undertaking remote working – whether it is accessing a client’s data room or supervising a well test from our offices. Within a few days of the covid-19 lockdown all of our sub-surface team of geoscientists and engineers were set-up at home to continue working on all our projects remotely. There has been no impact to our ability to undertake technical studies – and in fact I think our engineers have been more productive without the several hours of commuting time. Many consultants have also been able to continue working on assignments from home offices throughout the world.
And lockdown has not stopped us signing up new contracts either. We have been awarded a contract to assist a National Oil Company in the development of the country’s deep-water resources. This is a new client and a new country for OPC. Last year I would probably have flown to visit the client in person and would most likely have mobilised our engineers to work from the client site in country. However, the pandemic has forced us to adapt and we have conducted all communication to date by phone, video meeting and email and our team will be working remotely in their home bases in the UK, USA and Middle East.
We are actually very busy with technical work as many clients recognise the benefits of getting work done now and we are able to continue to offer competitive day rates and project costs.
Future for oil?
There have been the usual doom-mongers forecasting the demise of the oil and gas business assisted by the “negative oil” headlines in April 2020. However, now in the third week of June. Brent Crude is back above $40 per barrel, which is not far off January’s starting price. There will definitely be an impact on global consumption, and personally I would love a further reduction in vehicle traffic in London to make my cycle to the office more enjoyable! Oil production has taken a hit and international oil companies have put renewed pressure on the supply chain to push down prices. However, as market forces come into play as the lockdown eases we should see a slow return to 2019 levels by the end of 2021.
In the UK we have seen a renewed interest in renewables and carbon capture & storage and I very much look forward to more investment in these areas which OPC is now planning.
So while the coronavirus has been an awful pandemic for the world and has had a terrible impact on many industries and lives, we within the Subsurface sector keep focusing on delivering work efficiently, effectively and at competitive overall costs