Transcript

While everybody’s lives and businesses were transformed dramatically in 2020, spare a thought for the energy industry, and the people who quite literally keep the world’s lights on. Dr Ravi Mehrotra is founder and mentor of Foresight Offshore Drilling, part of Foresight Group International; he discusses how the pandemic devastated oil prices, forced oil operators to become more nimble, and how the agility of Foresight’s people were critical to the business’s success through the crisis.

World Finance: Dr Ravi, how has the pandemic affected the oil industry – and drilling in particular?

Dr Ravi Mehrotra: April absolutely devastated oil prices, as lockdowns and travel restrictions forced people to stay at home. E&P companies also cut their planned capex spends by about $100bn. So the drilling sector has been particularly hard hit, with contract delays, suspensions, cancellations and terminations. Plus the inevitable squeeze on day rates.

Oil prices are recovering, but Moody’s suggests demand may not return to 2019 levels until at least 2025, if at all. Decarbonisation is becoming a priority. And with the upcoming inauguration of President Joe Biden, we may see demands for oil companies to substantially reduce their carbon outputs. So even beyond the pandemic, this is a challenge the industry needs solutions to.

World Finance: How did Foresight respond and adapt?

Dr Ravi Mehrotra: By becoming more agile, more nimble, so that our operations could continue successfully through this low earning period. Like a lot of companies we experienced issues with crew change logistics. Our operations and HR teams came up with really brilliant solutions to overcome those challenges, and make sure our people were appropriately quarantined.

We’ve always been a relatively small business in this industry – but we make that a strength. Larger corporations only have their one way of doing things, they’re very rigid. We can be more agile, we can adapt to different customer needs. The client is at the heart of what we do, so we make sure we’ve fully understood their needs, and then we develop solutions to match.

World Finance: It sounds like your people are really vital to Foresight’s success.

Dr Ravi Mehrotra: Absolutely. Our people really are exceptional, we have teams who regularly perform miracles to get critical milestones achieved for our clients. Our fleet has been at 100 percent utilisation, running at an amazing 99.7 percent uptime with excellent safety performance.

In 2002 we created our own training institute, fully approved by the International Association of Drilling Contractors. Now all our intake is through this academy, and it’s these long-term employees who have been trained up within the company that are such a strong asset.

It’s been a challenging year, but thanks to our people it’s been a successful one. And looking ahead we’re optimistic. We’re going to remain agile, and see if we can scale up to medium size, with a critical mass of jack-up and land rigs in our operations.

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