Thursday, October 22, 2020

Still Fighting the Fight

 Good Morning Everyone,

I made my very first post here approximately 2 months ago discussing my current unemployment situation. Well, I am still fighting the fight.

It was been a rollercoaster ride of emotions both on a professional and personal level. I have been seeking work for over 6 months and nothing has materialized into a "you're hired" moment. I have a lot of people out and about that are helping on my behalf in trying to find a place for me to land. I have an immense feeling of gratitude for those individuals and they will never know how much I appreciate them.

Now, before I go any further I'd like to mention that I am not posting today to see how much sympathy I can get or how many "sending prayers your way" comments that I can stack up. It is not that I do not appreciate your gestures and intentions. It is more about me taking the next step in my fight and in my mind that the next step is humility and transparency. Along with that comes action and execution. With that being said, let me share with you my intentions going forward.

I am not a well-known person. I am just your average John Q. Inspector guy from Wyoming. I am third-generation oil and gas and damn proud of it. When I became an Inspector over 22 years ago, I set out to change the slang terminology of “oilfield trash” to “oilfield professional.” Those of us who are a bit thick-skinned have no issues with the old slang and many of us were the title with pride. However, my intentions of changing the perspective were strictly personal. I wanted to metaphorically fight those shallow-minded individuals who referred to us as “trash” and prove to them not just anyone can walk off the street and fill a position in this industry.

I have spent my years in the inspection area of the industry learning everything I could. Knowing that no one project is the same. I moved up quickly among the ranks of inspection and have been filling the roles of Construction Manager and Chief Inspector for the last 15 years or so. I have tried my absolute best to teach anyone who wanted to listen and take the time to learn everything that I know. I have learned a lot about people in general. Through the years I have discovered that I have a knack for reading people which comes in handy when you are in leadership roles. I have logged a lot of time in “boots on the ground” which enables me to troubleshoot issues remotely. I have a good understanding of oil and gas construction work which allows me to provide solutions to others when needed.

The knowledge and experience I have gained through the years coupled with the current economics of the oil and gas industry along with the lack of employment opportunities have caused me to rethink my options and try to create new ones.

I think with the changes we are seeing the oil and gas industry will move towards a change in how it progresses over the next 10 years or so. They will look for different approaches to project construction and execution. I believe their focus will be approached to streamline the construction of these projects. They will be tighter with their budgets and personnel needs. The tricky part with these kinds of approaches is safety cannot take a back seat nor can the quality and integrity of the product.

So, the question is, how do these companies implement these new approaches without jeopardizing themselves with noncompliance in safety, environment, and quality of the product? Simply put they seek out individuals who possess qualities and expertise that can bring value to these new approaches. One of the key components to these kinds of approaches I am talking about is simply, people. Specialized individuals who can bring “boots on the ground” experience and knowledge to the conception of a project. For many years I have been amazed that these companies will rarely (mostly do not) utilize a resource or have on their staff an individual or individuals that they can tap into for better execution of their projects. I believe there is a continual misconception with these companies when it comes to the perspective of the “boots on the ground” resource(s). To put it bluntly and I mean no disrespect, I think a lot of these companies think those of us who came up through the trenches so to speak, do not bring enough value to sit at the round table in the planning of these projects. I have seen countless monetary pitfalls that these companies have embedded in the construction projects that they just accept as being the norm. In reality, many of these areas they are throwing their budget out the window with could have been idled down or restructured in a way prior to the RFQ or RFP phase and saved them more dollars than most of us will see in a lifetime. More times than not, the simplest of things can be overlooked and quite costly in a noticeably short time.

So, my proposal is to all the big oil and gas companies, all the third-party services, and contractors alike, have you ever thought about utilizing specialized individuals as a contract or W2 positions to evaluate your projects and construction staff for quality from a “boots on the ground” perspective? Have you ever thought about having a specialized person to provide evaluations of your projects while they are in the “on-going” stage to make sure quality is being maintained? 

Now, I know the response(s) I am going to get. You will say that is the Project Manager’s responsibility, that is the Construction Manager’s Responsibility, that is the Chief Inspector’s responsibility, etc. etc. I would agree with all. But who is responsible for overseeing the “big picture” from the outside and who has no dog in the fight? Who will bring information to the table from a “boots on the ground” perspective? The goal here is streamlining projects and saving construction costs. Everyone involved with a construction project has a dog in the fight. Their approach to some degree will be slightly slanted and there is no getting around that. How can you eliminate the slanted approach and have a more transparent and cost-effective project? Hiring someone who is completely removed from the process, who evaluates, reports, and if called upon provides options or alternatives to issues that are discovered.

I believe in the oil and gas industry and in my opinion, it is here for years to come. Yes, there is progress in alternative fuels. I am not against progress or other options that will better us as a human race. But for now, regardless of the economic position the industry is currently in, oil and gas are here to stay. In my mind’s eye, the big change that will occur in the industry is how “we” approach the retrieval, transportation, and processing from a technological view coupled with a change in the approach to construction. Ultimately, supply and demand are the keys to sustainability. And sustainability’s cornerstone is controlling costs.

That was my soapbox moment folks! Let me close with a disclaimer or two. I am not a Professional Engineer, or educated CEO, CFO, COO, economist, or financial guru. I am not an accountant, a highly trained specialist in oil and gas economics either. I am John Q. Inspector guy from Wyoming who through the years took note of what was going on around me. I listened to others who had complaints or problems through the years and tried to understand and learn the issues and how they were resolved. I also learned things on my own by trial and error. I failed a lot and had a lot of successes. I am blessed having had the opportunities to learn from every person I encountered. Some of what I learned was not pleasant but nonetheless, there was something to learn everywhere I went. I humbly believe I can be an asset to a company and can provide value beyond the perception of just being a cost. I, like many others, have “boots on the ground” knowledge and experience that is grossly underestimated by many who fill the roles of the decision-making process. I am confident that in some shape or form my knowledge and expertise will find a place and be utilized as a value even if I must create it on my own.

There are many individuals out there in the same circumstances as I am regarding the unemployment situation. I wish I had some cool advice, but I do not. Just keep fighting the fight, thinking outside the box, and look within yourself and seek self-awareness. - My best to everyone!

Take Care and be safe!

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