By Linda Hsieh, Managing Editor
Leigh-Ann Russell, VP of Global Wells for BP, has been named as Chairperson of the 2017 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference. The event will be held 14-16 March in The Hague. Ms Russell currently manages BP’s portfolio of new ventures in regions like the Asia Pacific, Australia, Brazil and Canada. She also runs the business side of BP’s Global Wells Organization.
As planning for the 2017 event kicks off, Ms Russell emphasized that volatility in oil prices is normal in our industry and shouldn’t hold companies back from moving forward. “It’s no doubt a challenging time, but with these challenges there also come some opportunities,” she said. Citing BP’s latest energy outlook, she said that energy demand is expected to grow by nearly 35% over the next 20 years. “As the world economy grows, more energy will be needed to fuel higher levels of activity and the living standards that we want for the world.”
The opportunity for the industry right now, she pointed out, is to apply the lessons learned from previous cycles. “We must not only emerge from these current environment leaner and fitter, but we need to do it in a more sustainable way to be well-equipped to meet the longer-term challenges facing our industry.”
At BP, the company has committed to keeping safety as its top priority no matter what the price of oil is. This is driven by the recognition that a safe working environment is underpinned by the same factors that lead to performance and efficiency improvement, Ms Russell stated. “In my earliest days working as a drilling and completions engineer in the North Sea, one of the best performing rigs I worked on had both the best safety and delivery performance,” she recalled. “And when I was operations manager running five rigs in the North Sea later in my career, I saw exactly the same principles of safety and delivery going hand in hand.”
Ms Russell also advocated for further collaboration among operators, drilling contractors, service companies and equipment manufacturers. “As members of the SPE and IADC, we come together at conferences like this to share our learnings and develop robust industrywide standards and practices that will support our safe and efficient operations,” she said. “I believe it’s only by collaborating that we can effectively unlock these opportunities to help us simplify and become more efficient, reduce waste, improve nonproductive time and make our operations safer.”
Further, the industry must not forget the importance of continuing to attract top talent, particularly those with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math. This includes doing more to enhance the diversity of gender and nationality in the industry’s workforce. “As an industry, we need to stay committed to not only breaking down real and perceived barriers to entry but also for attention and career growth across our pool of diverse employees,” she said. “And while recruiting may slow down in the near term, we have to realize the importance of building and maintaining the pipeline of strong talent for the future.”