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Disruption Models Needed In The Oil & Gas Supply Chain

For the last three plus years, the extended logistics from aircraft operators to trucking companies and supply vessels to drillers, has been in serious financial pain. Add to this, the plethora of mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies globally, make this space even more challenging.

Companies have “worn out” the text book retrenchment techniques from firing staff to cutting the coffee fund.  And it seems like some are just waiting for it to just roll back.  I like that slogan in the Oil Patch “God please give me another chance and this time, I will not p_ss it away”.

Well, that $100/barrel may not happen too quickly. But numerous Oil & Gas Operators and supply companies are profitable even at $50/barrel.  Deloitte declared in an outlook paper that Oil companies have learned how to operate in a lower price environment, returning to a healthier focus on capital and operating cost discipline.

Recently, it was announced that Transocean sent the Rig Pathfinder to the chopping block (saving $15K a day in storage). Bristow, the world’s largest Helicopter operator stated that the offshore transportation market is in a state of “structural downturn” and requires fundamental change as it rebuilds.

There is no magic to the turnaround in my opinion.  But a new buzzword to leave you with is DISRUPTION.  This may be the new normal.  Brands that embrace it seem to be ahead of the trends.   And a common factor is that they all understand the sharing economy and IT.

It is strongly suggested to really embrace technology in anything and everything you do.  And bust down those doors on the paradigms of yesterdays business.  Have a serious chat with those managers and workers who say we always do it that way.  Support and encourage those new innovative thinkers to grow in your NEW business models.    Let’s have a conversation.   What is your company doing?

Michael Nagel – NOMADIS

The Sharing Economy Grows In Oil & Gas Logistics

By definition, the Sharing Economy is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources.  It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations. It is no longer a fad or phenomenon but a reality in life and in business, especially in the RESOURCE sectors globally.

Here, in trendy Vancouver, British Columbia, I have a bike sharing membership with MOBI and I recently returned from a Toronto business trip using AIR BNB.  Globally, we see Car2Go services in just about every major city and Uber type services too. This life change in purchasing and travel planning has crossed over to our business lives and this strategy in procurement will likely grow.

We have seen for years the sharing of assets and services in various resource sectors.  However, when the financial conditions improve, we often retreat to old supply-chain procurement habits for the ease, or perhaps the luxury of dedicated assets and services.

I suggest we may not go back this time as in many previous downturn cycles. We have finally proven that the various sharing experiences such as Helicopters to Fixed Wing workforce logistics, open camps, shared infrastructure and shared management to highlight but a few, may be a better way, perhaps even a new best practice in supply chain procurements for the future.

Here in British Columbia the media notes that Pacific NorthWest LNG, led by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas, is considering to foot the bill to construct the marine terminal in exchange for gaining access to Shell Canada Ltd.’s development rights on Ridley Island.  While they are competitors, the cost savings and collaboration is the right thing to do for the environment and the balance sheet too.

HESS, in their applications of lean sharing, a key strategy includes the pooling of marine resources rather than maintaining dedicated assets and they announce saving up to 30%.  The E&P is also well versed in sharing of various helicopters used in the GOM to Africa. Internal to external sharing with partners using a harmonized approach and common safety guidelines has proven a success.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, indicate oil and gas companies are selling off aviation assets and developing long-term relationships with aviation providers for cost benefits.  This new procurement strategy includes a combination of scheduled services and specialty charter such as the WestJet and Suncor model in Calgary, Alberta, now sharing at an airline level.

My favorite is the growing Remote Camp innovations from the open camp, which is fundamentally a remote hotel to only partial camp commitments   Major resource companies are less inclined to engage a full camp on a long-term basis so this option, like other sharing concepts, is appealing.    Fact or fiction, it is my opinion that the sharing economy is the new business model that some suppliers and purchasers have really employed on many projects already.

Canada: New Drone Rules

Transport Canada has released five new recreational drone operation rules. The rules aim to enhance safety, and are effective immediately.

  1. Recreational drone operators must mark their drones with their contact information
  2. Recreational drone operators may not fly higher than 90 meters (296 feet)
  3. Recreational drone operators may not fly at night
  4. Recreational drone operators may not fly within 75 meters (246 feet) of buildings, vehicles or people
  5. Recreational drone operators may not fly within 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) of the center of any airport,

Interesting thee rules do NOT affect operators flying drones for commercial, academic or research purposes. They also do not affect members of the Model Aeronautics Assn. of Canada (MAAC) in good standing who operate at MAAC — sanctioned field or events.

Impressions of PDAC Mining Trade Show

For those in the resource industry and supply chain, that may have missed this show, I am sure you have heard that it was very well attended by investors, mining companies and the supply trade from around the world.  In fact, the attendance was over the 22,000 + mark.   PDAC maintains its stellar position as the largest Mining Trade Show in the world.

But, the past few years have not been kind to this industry due to low commodity prices, limited CAPEX and fundamentally high risk in investments.   However, this year has started out robustly with the re-opening of old coalmines and the starting of new ones.   As well, the price of Iron Ore is making Australia very bullish to expand exploration throughout the country.

Of course, the Gold Miners are always the most exciting to watch and this year they are not letting us down.   From a multiple of M&A’s announced to many new project start-ups in remote locations, there is optimism for these metals plus other precious stones.   I am also inspired by the application to Information Technology as applied to everything from workforce logistics to exploration drilling.

My Three Messages from the show that give me motivation and inspiration:

Optimism

Ironically, it was a common theme that the last few years were so bad for suppliers and investors that 2017 is now willed to be better.   In addition, there is ample evidence to support the turn.

Risk

Global influences that are still in play globally from new governments (Federally to State/Province), the major European events to conflicts and the major famine in Africa.

Volatility

From BREXIT to TRUMP, a fragile Oil & Gas sector and some currency exposure with possible interest hiccups, there are too many events to plot with confidence that they will not affect the sector.

The bottom line is one of getting those aircraft in the air on Seismic, moving the drills to site and discussing investments globally.   CONGRATS to PDAC for creating the chemistry and “making it happen”.

ExxonMobil in FID, Guyana

I was just in Guyana over a year ago (Aviation Consulting – Oil & Gas) during the drilling program.   Helicopter Logistics including Search & Rescue handled by Bristow Helicopters with AW139’s.

The drilling was conducted by the Stena Caron.   Fixed Wing and other infrastructure contracted to local FW operator Trans Guyana Airways.

A year later and FID is in progress.  That must be a promising location with favorable business / logistics metrics.    A major game changer for Guyana as well as French Guyana & Suriname.   Keep an eye on this region.

UAV’s in the Oil & Gas Industry

 

UAV aircraft are one the biggest phenomenon today expanding from military employment of drones for surveillance to the civilian sector and even personal use.   The scope of this growing trend is evidently changing not only our daily lives, different business fields, but also the landscape of the aviation itself.   The industries that will dominate the commercial drone market will be related to energy, utilities, agriculture, construction, mining, real estate, news media, and film production.

However, the timing cannot be any better for the application of UAV or Drones in the Oil & Gas Industry.    From the monitoring of pipeline right-of-way to inspecting a drill rig, the UAV would be undoubtedly an opportunity to reduce cost and operational risk.   While most have cameras with downlink applications, some can now detect leaks (flare stack inspection to gas emissions) with specialty sensors.

The UAV provides a much safer alternative, especially when workers need to climb Oil & Gas structures especially offshore.  Equally dangerous is often flying over an onshore tailing pond or production terminal at low altitude in a single engine helicopter.   Therefore, there is a notion that the UAV compliments many critical work packages that, for a long time, have been very risky.

How do UAVs impact civil aviation and what actions should be taken to ensure the airspace safety?   Most recently, a British Airways aircraft (Airbus A320) was approaching Heathrow airport with 132 pax / 5 crew on board when a drone hit it. This incident is believed to be the first evident collision between a UAV and a passenger aircraft in UK airports.

One opinion is that these threats are usually caused by amateurs with an ignorance of general aviation rules and regulations. Here in Vancouver, BC there are government signs posted at the Harbour Heliport, Seaplane Base and even major airports (YVR) but one still sees UAV’s.   There is an idea that UAVs should be operated in accordance with air traffic control instructions, by trained and licensed operators, in addition to having compatible communications and navigation capabilities.

While we see, UAVs used extensively now in modern films and even to monitor crop production, just maybe this new technology will prevent a major onshore or offshore oil spill.   Another item in the toolbox for the resource sector that can only be a positive application if operated safely and respectively in both urban and rural environments.

 

 

The Last Resort: Chapter 11

As we have seen over the past 24 months, the number of companies that have either ceased operations or filed for bankruptcy in the Oil & Gas industry is on the increase.  While the price of Brent Crude is somewhat higher at ~ $49 US/BBL, the future is still somewhat cloudy.  Production globally is still at record numbers with a few operators at “over speed” but supply is a bit precarious with reduction events from offshore Nigeria to the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.   Maybe we bottomed out?

This may still be too late for Oil & Gas suppliers or Exploration / Producers who amassed mountains of debt over the few years to rapidly grow their organizations.  Money was cheap and easy to obtain as financiers also were motivated.  Business was also good or great at $110 US/BBL and notionally at, a certain scale, you could actually live off your cash flow.  Then bad planning, bad markets, bad management and bad luck lead to missed interest payments, cancelled dividends, idle assets and eventually the decrease of customer demand.

Looking into the airline industry of the past numerous operators took advantage of Chapter 7 or 11 when Jet Fuel prices went “sky high”.   We see a lengthy list from the iconic Pan Am to Air Canada to mention a few.   An interesting common factor among airlines is the rejection by the debtor of its current collective bargaining agreements among other discharges.  After satisfying certain requirements in the pre-planning, bankruptcy law permitted courts to approve the rejection of labor contracts.  With this tool, airlines were been able to reduce costs substantially.

Back to the energy industry, today there is even a new Bankruptcy Tracker online.  To highlight the severity to date, the amount of aggregate debt involved in filed cases has reached $17 billion for E&P’s and $5.3 billion for oilfield services companies.   Likely more are yet to come.

Most chapter 11 business cases deal with the restructuring of multiple types of debt including: priority tax debt, secured debt, unsecured debt and leases, while also seeking to protect the business assets.   As an example, if you had 20 aircraft worth $200,000 but you owed $400,000 you may ask the court to only pay on the collateral versus what is owed or not at all and dissolve the leases.   CHC Helicopter, who filed on May 5, was awarded, on May 12, the right to return 90 leased helicopters back to their owners from their original fleet of 230.

And that is all a function of the pre-planning by bankruptcy experts before they present a restructuring plan to the courts.  After all you must have a viable plan to get back to profitability.   Generally speaking, if you can negotiate the outcome with each creditor in your bankruptcy, you should be able to restructure the business debt in a way that allows you to emerge from bankruptcy lean and profitable.    Sort of like a cat cashing in another life.

Of course suppliers, employees and most importantly customers will also find this process challenging.    But to overcome a past negative credit history, you must build a reputation of strong financial management and creditworthiness.  This will rebuild your credit.   Strong and committed leadership is key.

 

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Recycled Management Strategies in Aviation Workforce Logistics. (Oil & Gas)

The majority of scheduled airlines around the world are taking advantage of the low cost of jet fuel (roughly 1/3 rd of costs) and growing ridership to increase capacity, build new routes, add code share partners and even increase freight operations. (American Q1 $1.5 B profit / Air Canada $101 M & Southwest $501 M)   They are clearly in the good times as shareholders are enjoying major profits and the OEMs are striking up new deals for more aircraft. (Bombardier to Boeing & Airbus)

helicopter-in-storageHowever, the slump in oil & gas has not been so favorable for aviation operations focused on this industry in workforce charter for both offshore & onshore.   The reduced CAPEX and OPEX budgets have affected the demand for aviation services of both Helicopter and Fixed Wing.  In particular, it has caused limited growth in onshore or offshore exploration and a curtailed expansion in production.   On May 5th, CHC Helicopter, one of the largest offshore helicopter operators, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the US.   Recent news indicates the operator will go from 230 aircraft to 75!

So, innovative leaders that are faced with business survival are rethinking how to get out of possible bankruptcy or retrenchment to “riding out” this storm.   Back to basics in simple management tactics with a degree of subtle, out of the box thinking may just work.  Enterprise wide, there must be changes.  An excess supply of assets, too many people, unused infrastructure and even new aircraft deliveries are but a few of the challenges faced by aviation operators today.

Pulling out the “minute manager handbook” may provide a few solutions in no particular order.  To put it simply save your money, work smarter and plan for a “new economy” in aviation workforce at way less than the $100/per barrel of 2014.   Just saying…… to consider.

Finance

  • Free up some cash.  Consider refinancing your assets and lease back or sell unused assets if owned.
  • Get in the experts to restructure your debt load before you get into financial problems.
  • Drill down on untapped cash in your accounts receivables and rethink your payables policy.
  • Negotiate your entire supply chain in orders, pricing and refine the T’s/C’s in contracts.

Restructure

  • Rethink and map out every process, service and expenditure.  ELIMINATE WASTE.
  • Simplify everything, align all work & services to the new restructured plan, and updated business model.
  • Map out the critical workforce and RIGHT SIZE.  Do it with dignity & respect; offer ethical packages.
  • Consider an outsource strategy of services for non-critical functions or products.

Information Technology

  • Integrate your IT into the vision, mission and goals of the new organization.
  • Perhaps it is time to reinvest in automating systems from billing to operations to HR.
  • IT enabled businesses advance products and innovation while fostering customer led growth.
  • Great leaders engage with all stakeholders internally & externally to clearly address the problems & find solutions before it is too late.

 

Workforce Logistics – The new sharing economy

Whether we are in New York, London or any other big city, sharing-economy companies such as Uber and Airbnb are now the norm.  These transportation and accommodation suppliers have demonstrated new options for less expensive supply and readily available inventory globally.

The resource sector has also embraced the “sharing” model likely out of need and cost control. Most progressive Oil & Gas & Resource companies employ best in class processes and performance tools such as Kaizen or Six Sigma to expose the waste and inefficiency.  This need to right size and improve cost processes is even more critical during this period of oil price volatility in the industry.

Therefore, we have now seen a large strategic shift in development for supply of services and goods in both onshore and offshore operations.   This entails the sharing of assets such as helicopters to charter airplanes or even shuttles among companies.  Such a classic example is the Bp Alaska and ConocoPhillips operations sharing of B737-700 services.  The mixed workforces share the jets to rotate to/from the various camps and job sites in Northern Alaska.

A similar model is growing in accommodations such as the growing offshore rigs or barges configured as floating hotels with all facilities including helipad, docking and medical resources.   Onshore, more camps or lodges cater to multiple companies seeking accommodations and services in the new “open camps” model.

Aviation Workforce Logistics is also changing with the sharing of heavy helicopters out of major markets such as Aberdeen, UK.  Similarly, out of Calgary, Canada, more aviation companies are sharing the typical workhorse Dash 8-300 to B1900 with multiple companies on specialty charter FIFO operations.

The bottom line is that companies must improve their operating-model basics by bolstering levels of efficiency and execution of service delivery models, pursuing sourcing and procurement savings to get the lowest prices from suppliers, eliminating waste and continuing to flatten organizational designs.

Not every company will survive the transition or new norm.   Suppliers and/or operators who do not conform may likely be “gobbled up” or even go bankrupt. Regardless of timing, this post-boom environment will make 2016 a year of cutting costs, streamlining operations, increasing M&A activity, restructuring, and focusing on geographies where break-even points are low enough to sustain profitability.

The Challenges of Logistic Workforce in 2016

camp-photoIn spite of the current global Oil & Gas price volatility there are still numerous large Exploration, Construction and Production projects in play.   And even more projects in or nearing a stage of Front End Engineering Design (FEED) phase.

The FEED is basic engineering which comes after the Conceptual design or Feasibility study. The FEED design focuses the technical requirements as well as rough investment costs for the project. One critical component is the mammoth logistics and cost issues of these 4,000 to 5,000 person camps in typical Fly In / Fly Out (FIFO) models for onshore and offshore operations that still continue to require high touch of management and control in process and systems.

During this current global business retrenchment various organizations in the Mining, Hydro and Oil & Gas sectors are reinventing how they do business.  It is clear that rightsizing, lean and better IT solutions will continue to all play critical strategic parts in these industries.  Operational priorities to address increasing operations costs, the need for greater productivity/efficiency and continuous improvement in safety and quality for the workforce are very high priorities.

Best in class IT Solutions like Nomadis that have supported these challenges for over a dozen years in many industries have proven that “off the shelf” solutions will work.  There is evidence that integrated processes to facilitate air travel, camp accommodations and various land travel (reservations to final itinerary) in a one stop shop supports inventory control, improved asset management, lean processing and thereby lower costs with reduced wastage.

Continued use of IT driven workforce solutions provides the evidence in data to compare the company’s investments against budgets, invoices and even wastage/spillage.  Improved processes also improve the experiences of workers.  Management then has the reports and tooling to make better and more informed decisions.