Market Intelligence

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The Augmented Future

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“The oil and gas industry is facing tough skills challenges, the scale of which go beyond the capabilities of traditional, face-to-face training methods alone.

Technology has a critical role to play in making training scalable to address these problems,but there have been doubts in the past about the effectiveness of e-learning solutions. Now, however, with solid evidence of positive business impact and growing rates of adoption across industry, technology-enabled learning offers real benefits for the sector.

A recent study by OPITO and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) found that more than half of firms in the sector identify skill shortages as their ‘number one challenge’, with technical skills such as engineering a particular area of concern.

Skills gaps are common across the whole of global business, but the particular characteristics of the oil and gas workforce make the sector’s problems particularly urgent. Prominent among these is the so-called ‘big crew change’, where experienced older staff retire en-masse, leaving a hole that must be filled. Recruitment has been on the rise in recent years, and with analysts finding increasing optimism about the prospects for growth, there is undoubtedly now more training to do than there are trainers to do it.

Another important characteristic of the oil and gas workforce is its highly globalised and transient character. This means that work teams will typically contain members from a wide variety of territories and company backgrounds, who will have received training of an equally varied nature and standard. This drives the need for a greater standardisation of knowledge and training regimes in both technical and HSE fields.” – youroilsoftwarenews

What does the future hold?

When you pair systems like Google glass, smart phones, tablets and wearable tech (think: smart-watches) with well-designed software, the potential for training and live assistance become extraordinary. As an employer you can track progress, monitor work and analyse individuals’ data more efficiently. In fact, the possibilities only end with your imagination. For instance: you can integrate reward systems, monitor health and safety, and even provide a space for people to share information about their mood or well-being.

We think: data is king. The more you have, the more efficient and cost effective you can be.

The New American (Gas) Revolution Gathers Pace

“The shale gas revolution, which has already transformed the United States and Louisiana into manufacturing powers, will vastly alter the world’s energy landscape by 2035, a BP executive said Tuesday.

Shale production will help make the United States a net exporter of natural gas in 2018, with exports growing to 10.6 billion cubic feet per day by 2035, said Mark Finley, general manager, global energy markets and U.S. economics, for BP.

Increases in U.S. oil production the past two years were among the largest in history. ‘The numbers here are staggering,’ Finley said.

Last year’s increase was the fourth-largest ever worldwide. Only Saudi Arabia has ever increased production by more.” – theadvocate.com

Over 63,000 shale gas and shale oil (tight oil) wells in the U.S. were analyzed in the effort to produce the map below. Mouse over any well to find production data on both the well and the play as a whole, or type in a location to see what wells are nearby. View full screen map here.

America’s dramatic progress with shale has inevitably captured the attention of Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia, who will all follow suit in some way. Some already have. Geopolitically, recent troubles suggest the possibility that shale could be a key resource to counter Russia’s control of Europe’s energy supply. All big news.

We think: the shale boom could provide the world with energy for many years to come, while creating jobs and opportunities, but perhaps at a cost. By exploiting shale on a massive scale, America is knowingly exchanging a known short-term risk to energy security for an unknown long-term risk to water security. Is it a good bet? It’s impossible to say: no one really knows the odds yet. As the vernacular poet Don Rumsfeld once said, there are known unknowns. But it’s a necessary bet. America has no choice but to exploit shale and make a play for energy independence.

Bulls in a China Shop (or, Alibaba and the Forty Investment Bankers)

“Macquarie estimates Alibaba could be worth as much as $200 billion, which would make it the world’s second largest internet company behind the Sun King of Silicon Valley — Google. Goldman Sachs believes the company could be valued at $150 billion.

Why is Alibaba’s listing so enticing to investors? The company is the largest e-commerce company in the world. It sold more goods than Amazon and eBay combined in 2012. The company provides services to more than six million merchants and 300 million retailer customers worldwide.

It has a five per cent share of China’s retail market, which is soon expected to become the largest in the world. The company is also tipped to become the world’s first e-commerce company to handle more than $1 trillion a year in transactions.” – www.businessspectator.com

Alibaba plans to go public in March. This is expected to be the biggest IPO since Facebook, so the world is expecting to see plenty of interest.

It sure looks as if China is helping set the stage for a new global economy. Alibaba is the largest e-commerce company in the world, and has huge potential not just for itself, but for China as well.

Russia’s biggest billionaire (Alisher Usmanov) has already sold shares in Facebook and Apple and invested in Alibaba. As relations sour towards the west over sanctions, we could see more of this behaviour, perhaps causing big changes in the global financial landscape.

There are new giants on the horizon. Let the e-commerce games begin.

New Paradigm For Success

“A 2013 study produced in partnership with management consultants McKinsey calculated that by adopting the principles of the circular economy, the consumer goods sector could save up to $700bn annually. As one example, the report claimed that turning discarded household food waste into bio-gas and nutrients for agricultural soils could net local authorities and investors in the UK alone $1.5bn.”

“The opportunity for businesses is to decouple profitability from resource price volatility and at the same time provide a better product or service,” he (Jamie Butterworth) says. “For the economy, it reconciles the outlook for growth and economic   participation with that of environmental prudence and equity. For businesses, it provides the opportunity to deliver superior value.” – The Guardian

A circular economy is a model whereby resources are reused instead of wasted. This provides greater profitability and long term sustainability for businesses. We think: the circular economy model is relevant, rational and potentially extremely profitable. We can look at all sectors of business through this lens to improve processes. What is the price of ignoring it?

Natural Gas for Power Generation: The Generator’s Perspective

“As 2014 progresses, US utilities are focusing more and more on natural gas. Coal plant owners have announced 54,742 MW of coal capacity will be shut down by 2025. On top of this, over 60% of planned generation additions between 2012 and 2040 will be fuelled by natural gas.”

That’s the view of FC Gas Intelligence. You can download their 12 page report here. Registration’s required but it’s an excellent read.

We think: the United States’ determined play for energy self-sufficiency based on natural gas will be the big story in the global energy market over the next 20 years.