Introduction to Oil and Gas: Part 1

About two weeks ago, I presented a paper to “a curious group of students” who wanted to know about the oil and gas industry. The presentation was made online, live via google hangout and a youtube channel. I think that the event went well, and so was my performance!

So, today I urged myself to write a little bit about the oil and gas industry. But before I write about it, I have to qualify myself by sharing with you my own personal experience in this sector. I do not want you to think that I am a poser who does not have enough experience to write about it. It is my effort to educate the public about this industry because I think that it is the most critical industry in the modern era.

Despite being a director and consultant in petrochemicals (which is just a part of the oil and gas industry), I think that the world of oil and gas industry is vast. It is also directly related to our own modern lifestyle. Although it is incredibly critical to our survival (in the borderless world!), not many people know about the industry in details, perhaps due to its complexity or lack of media coverage. Despite its importance, the industry is covered with “mystery”!

My experience in the “black gold” industry begun when I joined PETRONAS in May 2002, after just graduated from a Japanese higher institution with a degree in Artificial Intelligence System Engineering. I still had to return to PETRONAS to honour the scholarship contract which I signed years before. Since then, I worked there as marketer and trader, and later turned market analyst and a commercial project manager – all related to petrochemicals! It took me around 15 years to be able to master the oil and gas industry in great details.

As a professional, I must tell you that understanding this industry is a no joke! Although that it offers lucrative returns to its players, the barrier of entry is too high, whereas, the costs of acquiring the experience, skills and technology is almost equivalent to building hundreds of pyramids during the ancient times! Who would want to make pyramids now when they need fuels and gases more than food and water? There is no way for a newcomer to come into the market or industry and gain quick access to the well-protected resources without the support of existing players! Or should I say, without controversies?

Since this entry is about “The Introduction to Oil and Gas”, so I bet that most of you who read this are considered the people who are living outside of this “exciting but mysterious world”! As a start, I want to throw you a question by asking, “What are the most popular brand of gasoline supplier nearby you, or the place you stay right now?”

Before you answer, I want you to imagine if there was no gasoline supplier, and there were no gas supplies to your house to cook or to warm up your cold winter nights. Then, there was no power to do other things such as washing clothes using the automatic machine, to light up your home at night?! Do you think that this is possible, or it is implausible to occur in the future?

coal plant and smoke
Before the discovery of oil and gas, human civilisation was dependant on coal for the source of energy and innovation.

At an early stage (of understanding this industry), one must have a high level of curiosity to know the primary purpose of having the resources called oil and gas. The next most important question is: “what happens if there were no resources, and how did our forefathers survive when there were no oil and gas?!”

I do not plan to write the answer here because I know that Google is out there to answer most questions you could probably think of. The only reason I write this entry is to provide you with another perspective of this industry so that you would understand it as if you have been working there for at least more than a couple of years!

In the meantime, keep asking yourself about the world without oil and gas, as if you are living in a Medieval time, defending yourself with swords and shields, and cooking water to heat and drink with coals and woods! Ask yourself, whether you can survive without the resources – including without the food you have on your table. How scary to think about it, but that is what we are living right now, in the 21st century, where nothing can survive without a drop of oil, and a molecule of gas!