Reid: Downturns are painful, but they’re also good for our industry

By Linda Hsieh, Managing Editor

At the 2016 IADC/SPE Asia Pacific Drilling Technology Conference, held 22-24 August in Singapore, one panel session was devoted to the question of whether the various stakeholders in the industry can achieve mutual profitability in transformational times such as these. For David Reid, Chief Marketing Officer for National Oilwell Varco (NOV), the answer is simply that we must, and we will. “We understand that we must find a way,” he said, adding that downturns – while painful – are actually good for the industry. When times are good, companies typically don’t have time for anything but execution. But when times are bad, it’s time to learn and improve. “It causes us to ask really hard questions,” he said.

Although some have said that the drilling industry’s business model is broken, Mr Reid said he doesn’t believe that’s true. Instead, it’s the business motive that’s been broken. “I believe that we’ve lost our business motive in what we’re doing, so this is a great time to solve those problems.” He outlined five simple actions that can help to guide companies during these transformational times:

  1. Plan on better results. Keep in mind that energy demand around the world is still growing, Mr Reid said. “The one thing we know is that when we’re in good times, we’re going toward bad times, and when we’re in bad times, we’re going to go toward good times… Planning up is just the positive way of looking at it. Things will get better. We don’t know when, but let’s invest with that in mind.”
  1. Align around a better result. This may seem obvious, but don’t try to solve your problems without ever going to a drilling rig, he said. “I would suggest you get involved in the core of the issue, start getting closer to where the work is done and start solving problems. Find out if your tools are working.”
  1. Value skills and tools. Make sure you understand what you have and where your skills and tools can be applied to solve problems.
  1. Balance between ideas and experience. “I would say that we get the experience side down pretty well. The idea side, not so good,” said Mr Reid, who also urged that the industry find ways to fund more start-up companies. He emphasized that it’s not that ideas is right and experience is wrong, “but if you’re going to have new ideas, you have to allow this balance to happen. We have to allow the incoming generations to start really affecting the outcome…. Let them bring something to the table.”
  1. Find a vision. This means that a company must have an idea of where it’s going, then allow people to be involved so they become passionate about where they’re going. “You need to get people excited… if you don’t get excited about it, you’re not going to make it. So have a vision, bring passion to the table, and it should be a lot of fun.”

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