The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has teamed with Schlumberger to launched the Schlumberger Middle East and Asia Learning Center, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Center will provide advanced training for the oil industry through state-of-the-art facilities including a custom-built training rig.
Omair bin Youssef
Officiating at the inauguration, ADNOC CEO Youssef Omair bin Youssef said, ‘ADNOC takes great pride in having this facility in Abu Dhabi where our engineers and technical staff can acquaint themselves with latest technology.’ The final cost of the Center, when completed in 2008 will be in the order of $100 million.
The facility will provide Schlumberger and ADNOC professionals, along with students of the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Institute with training in data services, software, seismic, reservoir evaluation, cementing, stimulation, directional drilling, measurements while drilling and artificial lift.
Schlumberger chairman and CEO Andrew Gould who also officiated at the ceremony added, ‘People are one of Schlumberger’s key values. Their motivation and dedication to customers are our greatest strength. Every year, we hire many newly-qualified engineers and technicians who have yet to acquire industry experience. Our goal is to ensure that they have access to the same training and development opportunities regardless of where they come from and where they are going to be assigned.’
The Schlumberger Middle East and Asia Learning Center (MLC) is the newest and largest multi-disciplinary oilfield services training center in the world. The MLC is the fourth such facility, joining existing Centers in the USA, the UK and France.
In his address to the UK-based Energy Institute last month during IP Week, Andrew Gould explained why training has come to play such a critical role to Schlumberger and to the industry at large. Noting the ‘extraordinary’ turn around that has taken place over the last two years, Gould opined that, ‘The only serious constraint to a smooth, steady increase in new supply is in the availability of people with proper experience and education.’
Gould noted a personnel shortage ‘at almost all levels of our industry,’ the result of 20 years of under-investment in new talent. During the period from 1993 to 2000, Western oil companies shed some 200,000 jobs. In 1984, some 1,500 petroleum engineers graduated in the USA. By 2000 this had dwindled to 260!
A study by Schlumberger’s Business Consulting arm determined that ‘although the supply of technical professionals may well be sufficient to meet demand at a global level, major shifts in recruitment patterns will be needed. These shifts present challenges for the today’s competency development and career models.’ Gould noted that attracting the best talent will require acceptance that career advancement be open to all nationalities, ‘something that all companies in the industry need to take very seriously.’
Oil and gas still operates by taking the expertise to the problem rather than bringing the problem to the expertise. But today’s information and communications technology (ICT) are increasingly making remote job monitoring a possibility. Remote drilling operations centers have multiplied drilling engineers’ productivity two or three-fold, measured by the number of wells that they can supervise simultaneously. Similar productivity gains are likely to accrue from the ‘digital oilfield.’
Remoting supervision does not mean doing everything from Houston. Aside from the Abu Dhabi training center, Schlumberger has opened R&D centers at Moscow State University and in Dhahran close to the King Fahd University. Schlumberger’s primary research center is moving to Boston, Massachusetts, next door to MIT.
Japanese auto industry
Gould concluded with a warning to a complacent West, ‘Demographics and the need for producing nations to access technology could well shift a large part of the technology advantage to those producers. I am sure the skeptics out there are thinking ‘impossible’. But I would remind them that the US automobile industry did not take the Japanese seriously until it was too late.’
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