The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it ― Samuel Johnson

Louise Kingham OBE FEI EI Chief Executive

Louise Kingham OBE FEI
EI Chief Executive

Why is it that, in this information age we live in, the truth seems ever harder to get to? The facts often seem to either not exist or be buried ever deeper under layers of rhetoric and commentary . My views are probably a little tested after weeks of election campaigning in the UK, but nevertheless I think the point still stands.

So if we still think an evidence base is important – as I and other EI members do –  it’s essential that we step up and provide good quality, clear information that can be trusted. We also need to explain what the information was produced for and how we expect it might be used. This in turn reminds the recipients of the EI’s role as an independent professional society and source of trusted expertise – which is probably not called upon enough.

Two recent contributions from the EI have only just been published – the 2015  Retail Marketing Survey and the second G9 Incident Data Report for safety performance in the offshore wind industry.  Both reports contain a wealth of factual data as well as statistics;  both are designed to offer an evidence base for the state of play in two very different parts of the energy industry – one focusing on the health of a sector, the other on the health of the people within it.

So let me make a suggestion. If you are in need of trusted and useful information think about whether the EI could provide it for you.

The EI Knowledge Service provides a central resource for energy knowledge and information – find out more by visiting knowledge.energyinst.org

Fewer swings, more roundabouts please

Louise Kingham OBE FEI EI Chief Executive

Louise Kingham OBE FEI
EI Chief Executive

The old fairground saying – what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts – might apply to a number of sectors where the economic cycles of expansion, contraction and growth once again are readily managed by companies following periods of releasing and then recruiting people. However, when the energy industry needs to compete to attract talent, leaving it to ‘natural’ cycles alone – for HR teams to respond to when need arises – is not enough.  Given the energy industry underpins daily life and brings such value to society, it’s industry-wide collaboration, facilitated and supported by independent bodies like the EI, that is needed beyond, and in support of, what individual companies need to do. And, the companies need to get behind that approach to build critical mass and recognise it’s about reputation too.

EI inspiring young people at the Big Bang Fair 2015 to take up energy careers

EI inspiring young people at the Big Bang Fair 2015 to take up a career in energy

Last week the EI supported the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair which hosted 75,000 children, parents and teachers to a festival of what Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers can offer. By no coincidence its also British Science Week which is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths – featuring fascinating, entertaining and engaging events and activities across the UK for people of all ages. And to do their bit, the Department for Energy and Climate Change hosted the My Energy Job online energy careers fair which the EI also supported.

The EI is promoting and hosting the development of DECC’s POWERful Women initiative as well as supporting pan-industry declarations in science and engineering to improve diversity, equality and inclusion. EI is also investing to develop its Young Professionals Networks, Student Chapters and Mentoring Schemes as well as looking at innovative ways to connect growing professionals with experienced ones.

Why? Because developing people is a long term investment and for an industry to really prosper and add value to society in the way that energy needs to, its continuous promotion, even when times are more challenging, is essential to building the pipeline of talent we need  – roundabouts not rollercoasters.

Harnessing our own power…

Louise Kingham OBE FEI EI Chief Executive

Louise Kingham OBE FEI
EI Chief Executive

In his last blog, our President, Ian Marchant FEI, announced the launch of the Energy Barometer – a research project to harness the power of EI members’ insights and opinions around aspects of the energy challenges we face. Why now? Our mission is focused on three elements – skills, good practice and knowledge. It is the last element where capturing the experience and first hand knowledge of our members will really add value to the quality of the conversation about our energy future.

We will look to Members and Fellows for their experience and to our Graduate members for their perspective and expectations for the future of the industry they are building a career in.  Around 600 members will be invited to be part of a ‘College’ which is randomly selected and then membership will be rotated to widen the opportunity to participate over time. For the time that members form part of the College,  they will commit to taking part in the Energy Barometer survey.

Our aim is to give as many eligible members as possible a chance to participate by refreshing the College each year, whilst maintaining continuity. So, if you do not receive an invitation this time around, there will be future opportunities to take part. The first set of invitations will be sent by email in the first half of January and, as a member, if you want to make sure we have your correct email address, please log in at www.energyinst.org/personal-details and update your contact details.

There has probably never been a more important time to share your knowledge and expertise to inform the debate on how we tackle the energy challenge. So, when you get the call to respond please say yes and help us to harness the collective power of our membership.

A 50-year adventure, but the North Sea exploration journey is far from complete

Louise Kingham OBE FEI EI Chief Executive

Louise Kingham OBE FEI
EI Chief Executive

September 2014 marked the anniversary of the award of Licence P.001 to BP, which saw the birth of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) only one year later when the West Sole gas field was discovered.

In 1970 the Forties discovery was made and, after construction of the pipeline by the same name, oil was brought to UK shores in 1975. A new era in UK energy production meant the adventure was just beginning.

On the 50th anniversary of that first discovery, in September 2015, the 8th Petroleum Geology Conference – known to many as the ‘Barbican conference’ – will take place in London at the QEII Conference Centre with a focus on North West Europe.  From the North Sea and surrounding onshore areas, to exploration frontiers in the North Atlantic and the Barents Sea, there is much to share from 50 years of learning.

The call for papers is currently open seeking abstracts and there will be an emphasis on knowledge transfer too because this event is about what the UKCS will mean for future generations.

The oil and gas industry is still the UK’s largest industrial investor with record cap ex of £14.4 billion in 2013. However, as capital and operating cost efficiencies reduce, there is never a better time to innovate – so it’s timely to share experience and learning and pass knowledge on.

Setting standards

Louise Kingham OBE FEI

Louise Kingham OBE FEI

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting people from around the world, brought together by the fact that we were all part of the energy industry, and in this case, focused on sharing knowledge in the oil and gas sector at the 21st World Petroleum Congress in Moscow. A common worry during the event was the bottleneck that the industry is facing across the board – albeit to different degrees in different geographies – to attract, develop and retain a talented, diverse and competent workforce, in a range of key roles where we know gaps exist, from technicians to the next industry leaders. This was confirmed at the session I chaired later in the week on that very theme.

Back in the UK, the topic of standards and accessing the competence to attain them reigns strong. Why? Well, this week, the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is launched – to help the UK to meet Article 8 of the EU’s Energy Services Directive. This means large companies will need to regularly audit their energy performance – using competent people to do so. As the industry’s professional body, the EI has been advising the UK Government about what competent in this context means – reflected in the membership of the EI’s Register of Professional Energy Consultants and so we are ready to support the scheme. Ultimately, competence is essential for the industry to operate to the highest standard, whether in drilling oil wells or identifying opportunities for energy saving. But there’s another reason why we should worry. If the energy industry is to gain public trust, demonstrating the competence of its practitioners will go a long way to help.