Oilfield Service Companies Face a Future of Challenge and Change
- Don Painter (Ernst & Young) | Debra Grandjean (Ernst & Young)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- April 2009
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 20
- 2009. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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The oilfield services (OFS) industry, like the oil and gas industry it serves, is facing an exciting, complex, and uncharted landscape. Few industries today face greater economic, technical, geographic, and operational opportunities and challenges.
Growing global demand for energy—particularly from emerging economies in Asia and the Middle East—coupled with tight worldwide supply of crude and hydrocarbon products will likely mean price volatility going forward, despite the current recession. At the same time, the industry faces the rapid decline of mature assets. Authorities estimate that more than 80% of the world’s producing assets are past peak production and in rapid decline.
OFS companies have increased their focus on technology to maximize recovery, development, and production efficiency through aggressive drilling, stimulation, and enhanced-recovery programs. The oil and gas sector has also pushed into new geographic, geologic, and technical frontiers. The greatest demand for OFS is expected to come from the Middle East, Africa, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Asia, and Canada.
The opportunities for OFS companies are immense, but change is also unavoidable, and will affect all aspects of the business: technology and talent, products and processes, and organizational capabilities and operating models. Traditional strategies, based on the industry’s historical cycles, are no longer satisfactory and could result, at a minimum, in lost business opportunities.
New Customers, New Challenges
One of the biggest challenges currently facing OFS companies now is the change in much of its customer base from international oil companies (IOCs) to national oil companies (NOCs). As NOCs grow in size, number, and influence, the OFS industry’s customer base has changed significantly and transformed the industry’s competitive landscape.
IOCs and most independent operators are North American or European companies that share common cultures and usually possess strong engineering and technical expertise. The largest NOCs operate outside of these regions and vary widely in technical capabilities and strategic orientation. For example, some are more socially driven rather than financially driven. Holding 85% of the world’s proven hydrocarbon reserves and gaining ground in technical sophistication and international capabilities, NOCs have now become much more active in R&D and asset development.It is easier for NOCs to collaborate with OFS firms on new developments and sidestep the issue of production sharing. Working with service firms, NOCs are better able to maintain control of hydrocarbon reserves—a political priority for a growing number of reservoir-rich nations. Major OFS companies with long histories in global oil and gas operations are playing a vital role in helping NOCs develop their domestic and international footprint. Closer relationships with OFS companies also are allowing NOCs to develop strategies that enhance their internal capabilities or local content, such as related business and service entities. The strategic interests of IOCs are evolving as well. As manager of many of the world’s megaprojects, IOCs will remain important service industry customers as well.
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