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Why the world still needs oil and gas despite diversification drive – Olayinka

Samuel Olayinka is a passionate, value-driven drilling and completion operations, and production project operations professional with over 16years proven experience as a production and project engineer leading cross-functional teams to plan, build, launch and manage human resources and facilities with one of the international oil and gas companies. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, he says most big players in the oil and gas industry no more engage in exploratory activities and the shift to renewable energy would impact negatively on many countries in the very foreseeable future and many more. Excerpts:

Can we meet you sir? Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Samuel Babatunde Olayinka. I am a graduate of Chemical/Petro Chemical Engineering and presently a PhD research in-view in Environmental Science Management student.

The Coronavirus pandemic has left in its wake a lot of disruption in all areas of human endeavour, including the oil and gas sector; what major disruptions has your industry witnessed as a result of the pandemic and how is your industry recovering from these disruptions?

Globally, the pandemic has affected a lot but this has shown and taught us a lesson in a modernisation way; one of the advantages is smart working, social distancing. Who will ever believe that this could happen, it shows that we do not need too many human for a simple task except in the area of subsurface production operations, drilling and completion which requires human interface. All other jobs are adaptable to smart working. It also has it down side, in the sense that some of our colleagues lost their job since what 50 staff strength were doing before is achievable now with 20 workers doing it with a better result.

What is the future of the oil and gas sector post-Covid -19?

Right from year 2015, oil industry has started to experience dwindling in terms of oil price ratio. If you remember in ALBARTA Canada a lot of oil worker lost their income due to fluctuation in the oil industry not only due to Covid–19 pandemic, but also as a result of the shift to renewable energy and electric powered vehicles. According to the president of US he has set a target that in the year 2030 fuel consumption will dropped by 37percent which means Canada being the major supplier to US will lose greatly except massive diversification takes place.

Here in Nigeria we are not exempted but there is a silent part in the Nigeria industry which nobody talks about which the GAS flaring. A huge monumental waste which could be the hope.

There seem to be a shift globally from fossil fuels (hydrocarbon) to renewable or clean energy, which will no doubt cause some disruptions in the energy sector, in your opinion, how is the energy sector and major oil and gas producing nations responding to or preparing for this shift?

The oil and gas industry still provides the most reliable and available source of widely accessible energy that runs the economy of the world today and for the foreseeable future. Bear in mind that coal is still in widespread use for power generation now. With that said, the shift to renewables is real and ongoing. The industry is adapting its strategy in consideration to this. There are additional emphasis to identify and focus on more environmentally-friendly energy like natural gas, thermal power and investing in emission reduction technologies like carbon capture. The fact many of the major oil companies support the Paris Agreement on climate change shows the understanding of the ongoing transition and change in strategies been applied to adapt to it. However, the world will still need to have oil and gas as part of the energy mix.

Let us get to your profession now. As a field production engineer with stint specialisation in well drilling and completions, what does your work entail?

My early career was in well operations, which involved the supervision and completion of oil wells in Niger Delta. Later on, I moved to production optimistisation which deals with the sub-surface production of oil and gas gathering from compression state to delivery state.

What is the most challenging project you have delivered? How did you feel after delivering such a project?

For security reason, I will not be able to mention but when you execute such project you feel fulfilled.

What would you remember as the biggest challenges you have ever faced in your career? How did you resolve them? Have you ever thought of quitting? Any incident that made you want to quit?

Kidnapping and insecurity. Sometime in year 2005, our operational base was attacked, the bandit came through the water ways/ jetty in which about 10 of our military personnel were killed and the bank within our premises were looted, this I saw because I was in the office. It was a total confusion.

Read also: Dangote in talks with oil traders for refinery loan says Reuters

You have worked in the oil and gas industry both in Nigeria for 16 years now. What has your experience been and what would you term your greatest achievement so far?

Actually, I have been around for more than 2 decades in the oil and gas industry but at the main stream it’s about 17years. It has been awesome no doubting it.

What would you term the biggest drawback of Drilling/Completions Engineers in Africa, if any?

Early consolidation. Most of the big players in the oil industry do not engage any more in exploratory activities. They prefer to consolidate with the producing wells. Most of these wells are 40, 50 years in production. Another thing is partners not releasing funds. This may be because securing funds of the magnitude required for well projects are huge and somehow not easy to secure these days.

Has well-drilling in the industry evolved, how has it impacted production and delivery? What would you say is the future of well drilling and construction Projects? How prepared are you for this future?

Preparation to manage what is in the future depends on what is done today. Wells are designed now with better consideration to the full well life cycle including abandonment. Strategically there is the evolution in the importance being assigned to the environment. The provision of resources and the commitment to execute abandonment campaigns cannot be understated. So long as the industry continues to have meaningful value, drilling and completions and the production of crude oil will have a place due to its role in contributing to the energy mix required to run the future economy. The challenge comes in the commitment to plan for the hundreds of old wells in Nigeria and tens of thousands around the world that need to be properly plugged. So, there will be a need for knowledgeable and experienced people in this field for the foreseeable future.

What’s your family life like? We know it could be quite a bit of a challenge for people in your profession, especially when you must be on a project for a long time?

The nature of this job demands a woman that understands you and has the fear of God. The job requires you to be away from ones family for some months. At a point in one’s carrier one should not be permanent in the field operations because you lose touch with the real world.

How rewarding is your job, given the risks involved?

It is rewarding enough to motivate one to continue to give his best.

How do you relax, when you are not thinking of field, technical and support functions in oilfield operations?

Wow, at my leisure time I tried to engage myself in extra curriculum activities sport game like lawn tennis.

What would be your advice to aspiring and early career production Drilling and completions Engineers?

I would encourage them to do all they can to stay focused but not too long in the field operations.

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