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Cover interview: Fostering the future of oil and gas

by Arabian Oil & Gas Staff on Jan 3, 2018

Dr Al Hosani won the Young Oil &  Gas Professional of the Year Award from Oil & Gas  Middle East in 2017.
Dr Al Hosani won the Young Oil & Gas Professional of the Year Award from Oil & Gas Middle East in 2017.

For young oil and gas graduates looking to enter the industry, the landscape can seem bleak, with companies cutting back on expenditures and eking out every penny where they can find it, and few open to hiring young professionals fresh out of the starting gates. The oil price slump, which began in 2014, caused project shutdowns, slashes in capital expenditures of up to 40% between 2014 and 2016 and, according to Strategy&’s research paper 2017 Oil & Gas Trends, 400,000 workers were left without jobs.

While much of the industry has survived through the tough times, it has been difficult for upstream oil and gas companies to make strategic decisions and plan for the future. Only now is the sector just beginning to emerge from the upheaval, and those plans can start to see the light of day.

Oil and gas companies looking to 2018 and beyond are now faced with a dual challenge, re-invigorate the talent lost in cut-backs, but maintain innovation and sustainability in a still uncertain marketplace. According to Strategy&, many companies do not have the talent, organisational framework, systems, processes, or attitudes to be sufficiently flexible and innovative in an evolving and uncertain marketplace. The company recommends that upstream should increase its research into sustainability and clean energy and ask itself these questions: Do I have the right business models in place? How can my company develop new capabilities and in what areas? How should asset portfolios evolve? What type of technology plays should I invest in?

Dr Esra Al Hosani, an instrumentation and control engineer at ADNOC Group Company ADCO, believes that with hard work and the right opportunities, fresh graduates can excel and bring innovation, invigorate business models, and develop research to meet companies’ pressing sustainability goals.

“This generation is smart, strong, creative, and has a fresh look into everything. When we are given the opportunity to lead in a company we will lead it through an innovative, shorter path to success,” said Dr Al Hosani.

However, one of the biggest obstacles young people face in the industry in the region is not being given the chance to prove their worth to the companies that employ them.

“I would say one of the main obstacles [to graduates in the industry] is not having an opportunity to learn or contribute. This mainly happens when superiors do not take the young seriously, overloading them with meaningless or routine tasks, not giving them responsibilities, or shutting their innovative initiatives down. Unfortunately, young professionals are often being micromanaged rather than only guided or supported. There are still many undiscovered champions and many buried talents, and I believe that if every manager, from the lower to the upper level, took one talent under his or her wings, we will grow exponentially faster,” she said.

Dr Al Hosani herself is no stranger to hard work. In 2006, Dr Al Hosani went to study in the Petroleum Institute, where she studied electrical engineering with a focus on the petroleum industry needs. The Petroleum Institute is an engineering programme that is part of Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi and specifically trains young people to be engineers to join the oil and gas industry. Students enrolled in this programme, of which there are around 1,000, are fully sponsored with a monthly salary and high achievement rewards.

Dr Al Hosani obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. with Honours in 2011 and 2012 respectively. She focused her M.Sc thesis on black powder and deposit detection in gas pipelines.

She then joined ADNOC Onshore in 2013 as an instrumentation and control engineer and managed to finish her training programme in half the time required.

Although Dr Al Hosani was offered a full scholarship to pursue her PhD, she turned down the offer to be exempted from her work duties and decided to pursue her PhD in parallel to her normal job, as she realised from an early age the importance of having a solid knowledge of the industry as well as hands-on experience to strengthen theoretical knowledge. She focused her research on the existing problems of multiphase measurement/imaging and deposit detection in the oil and gas industry, in order to arrive at solutions for such critical challenges.

Although Dr Al Hosani was sponsored by ADNOC Onshore for four years, she managed to obtain her PhD in three years while still working for the company full time.

Dr Al Hosani has published in seven top journal papers so far in her career, including a paper published in the elite Royal Society journal and others in top IEEE transactions, which were all cited many times by other researchers. She has also published four conference papers in addition to M.Sc. and Ph.D. theses. All her publications are related to challenges facing her field of work. Furthermore, she was granted two US patents for novel ways to detect deposits in gas pipelines and measure the flowrate of wet gas.


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