Editorial: IADC, members keep focus on people, collaboration, industry value

By Jason McFarland, IADC President

I believe in the long-term value of the oil and gas industry. This belief comes from the fact that energy directly impacts the goals of individuals, organizations and communities around the world. However, the industry is facing a number of obstacles, including those around regulatory and logistical constraints, market fragmentation, and workforce recruitment and retention. While these near-term challenges are being addressed, it’s important to note that IADC and its members are also focused on the long game. Three primary thematic areas will help us stay the course in 2022 – collaboration, people, and industry value.   

Adapting to change through collaboration

In his editorial in the last issue of this magazine, Jeremy Thigpen – IADC’s 2022 Chairman and CEO of Transocean – stressed the need for collaboration. “Our collective efforts can yield demonstrable results when we collaborate, share knowledge, tackle common problems and develop solutions to critical issues,” he stated.

This is the idea behind IADC committees – a pillar of the association throughout its 80-plus year existence. I’m proud to say that, not only did committee activity not cease during worldwide lockdowns, but the virtual aspect of committee meetings allowed new faces from around the world to start popping onto screens. We know the significant impact IADC committees have made over the years, and we recognize the additional potential with increased access for all members. By providing hybrid options for committee meetings, we will maximize members’ ability to collaborate and make an impact. 

The past two years have taken their toll, but have also revealed inherent connections within our industry. These connections serve as a platform for broader and, in some cases, more non-traditional collaborations. A recent example is IADC’s reciprocal membership with the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA). With IADC’s growing sustainability efforts, this connection provides our members with the chance to align initiatives and collaborate across upstream and downstream industries. IADC will continue to preserve existing connections in 2022 while also seeking new, non-traditional opportunities to expand its network. 

Taking care of people

In Mr Thigpen’s editorial, he also addressed the challenge of attracting talent during this period of market recovery. “The opportunities for next-generation drilling professionals will be plentiful for those who are smart, ambitious and believe in the value this industry creates,” he said. 

IADC recognizes that the talent of tomorrow needs to be identified and nurtured today. The energy and growth we’ve seen from our Young Professionals (YP) Committee and student chapters program signal that we are meeting an industry demand among its newest talent. Potential initiatives under consideration for YPs include a “Lunches with Leaders” series to facilitate cross-functional development and regional networking events where YP Committee members are based. Involving YPs and IADC student chapters in industry conferences, committee meetings and chapter activities creates additional opportunities for engagement. If we nurture the best resource we have, they will be better informed and equipped to learn, lead and achieve future goals they have for themselves and the industry.

The challenge around people doesn’t stop there. Once they are in the industry, we must train and develop them in order to keep them in the industry. IADC has been accrediting training providers for decades, but offerings must adapt as the industry progresses. As such, we are developing new offerings in 2022 around H2S, ESG and IADC’s flagship WellSharp program.  

Demonstrating industry value with facts

The fact is that hydrocarbon fuels solve a lot of problems for humanity. Mr Thigpen states that “one of the key challenges we face is educating the public on hydrocarbons’ critical role within civilization – something we all take for granted.” 

Current conversation about the energy transition has a lot of the industry talking past each other. ESG is not a new paradigm, but the baselines and benchmarks are siloed among varying organizations in the energy, financial and regulatory sectors. The IADC Sustainability Committee will be stepping up efforts in this area, including addressing sustainability reporting guidance to help our industry be a resource as the slow, steady adoption of alternative energy sources continues. Additionally, the Energy Efficiency Subcommittee of the IADC Advanced Rig Technology Committee will offer opportunities for alignment on key topics between operators, drilling contractors, vendors and regulators. 

Whatever our goals are as individuals, as organizations or as communities big and small, there will be challenges and obstacles to overcome. As easy as it is for some consumers to flip a switch and access energy, IADC members recognize that energy sources cannot be switched quite as easily. It will be a slow and gradual transition to alternative energy sources, and IADC and its members have an active role to play both during and after that transition. 

In a world where perception, at times, overshadows reality, the industry needs to stay focused, and IADC is committed to doing its part. I believe the key areas outlined above will help the industry stay the course – something we must do to meet growing worldwide energy demand. DC 

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