LAGCOE keynote explores industry’s role in technical and social innovation

By CAMERON WALLACE, Digital Editor, World Oil on 10/10/2019

NEW ORLEANS - Kevin Krausert, president and CEO of Canada’s Beaver Drilling, opened Day Two of the LAGCOE 2019 conference, with the goal of helping the oil and gas industry maintain its long-standing role as a source of both technical and social innovation. “The oil and gas industry is the driving force for the betterment of our future,” Krausert said, stating clearly that, if the industry wants to continue to grow and thrive, more must be done to help society understand the good things that oil and gas deliver. “We need to sell what we do in terms of how oil and gas reduces poverty.”

“Energy is the transformational tool that brought man out of the darkness. Harnessing fire led to the agrarian revolution, while coal powered the industrial revolution. The digital revolution is the next step-change, and oil and gas are the power sources that continue to make this possible,” Krausert said. “Ours is the only industry that can directly improve someone’s quality of life. Whether it’s a village accessing clean-burning fuel to cook with, or medical advancements being made in large cities, energy is directly responsible for these improvements.”

Aspirational goals. “Our industry is part of the solution, not part of the problem, but we have to get the public to understand that,” Krausert said. As an example, he noted that Canada now produces enough LNG to eliminate Chinese coal from the global energy market. The net environmental effect of this coal being replaced by gas is equivalent to taking every car off the road in Canada.

Krausert observed that there are two disruptive forces that can impede the growth and advancements that oil and gas provide—internal (technical challenges) and external (social beliefs and expectations). He has defined a path to address both of these seemingly loosely-associated challenges directly. His path starts with the crews in the field.

“Saying things like ‘we use technology to drive down costs and be more innovative’ to our employees is not the right approach” to earning this social license to operate, Krausert said. “It all starts with advancing our own teams’ skill sets. We have to model this completely, where we train and supervise field crews to help these new technologies get proven successfully, and then the teams know how to excel with it.”

To this end, Beaver Drilling has created The Avatar Program, a joint industry partnership with Conoco Phillips, Shell, Tourmaline, Cenovus, Birchcliff, and Virgin Galactic. The goal of bringing these companies together is to share best practices and drive an inflection of knowledge and innovation from the bottom of the organization to the top.

As part of The Avatar Program, crew members from the participating companies go through intensive education and training curricula, aimed at helping them better understand how their work makes modern society possible. An important part of this understanding comes from showing Avatar participants how to recognize opportunities to apply their own expertise to the challenges of others. The program is bearing fruit, with Krausert explaining how one of his rig hands came up with an idea that evolved into a partnership between Beaver Drilling and Baker Hughes, revolutionizing how large-diameter boreholes for pipelines are drilled under rivers and other infrastructure.

“I was out in the field, and I met him and asked why he chose to work in the oil and gas industry. He told me it was the best way he could afford a new truck,” Krausert said. After completing The Avatar Program, the answer to the question had changed. “When I asked him again, he told me he was working on rigs because it’s the best shot he has to change the world.”

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