In case you hadn’t noticed, the price of oil has dropped over the last several months. I know … you already know. E&P Oil Companies have turned their attention to the “P”, Production. They aren’t doing nearly as much “E”, Exploration, and consequently aren’t doing design and construction of new facilities.

In fact they are laying off a lot of people who are involved in the “E” side of things. Consequently, a lot of contractors on the EPC world are also being laid off. This short article looks at two strategies you may want to consider if you are one side or another of a layoff.

Still have a job at an E&P or an EPC serving an E&P?

If you are still happily employed at an E&P company, you have some choices to be made. On one hand you can do everything you can to embed yourself in the “P” side of the corporate world. This means that you will be working on helping to keep the production running successfully. Perhaps this means that you plan and optimize turnarounds. If that is the case, you will want to help with strategies like:

  • Optimizing the turnaround with scheduling tools like P6,
  • Improving the nature of the turnaround with mobile status reporting solutions like P6 Team Member, and
  • Reducing the cost of a turnaround by managing costs using a project controls solution like Unifier.

While specific technologies are described here (because these are solutions which I’m familiar with), there are others out there. Of course, any solutions need to be tightly aligned with tuned processes and training so that they are truly effective.


Your alternative on the “E” side is to get your company ready for the eventual rise in the price of oil. It always has gone up, and there is no reason to think it won’t this time. It might just take some time to get there. If this is the case, you will want to work on some strategy options. For example, you will want to recommend:

  • Optimizing portfolio selection and management with solutions like Oracle Primavera Portfolio Management (OPPM),
  • Enterprise project and portfolio management of all projects (large, small, capital, operating, maintenance, and turnaround) in a true enterprise-class and configurable system like P6 EPPM,
  • Tight, governed, and auditable project controls using an integrated workflow system like Unifier,
  • Team member mobile enablement using things like P6 Team Member and Unifier mobile,
  • Risk management for better forecasting of project success, using tools like Crystal Ball (for better selection of projects that should be commercially successful), and Primavera Risk Analysis (for creating contingency & mitigation plans, and for planning contingency funding and time),
  • Enterprise project analytics using something like P6 Analytics, and
  • Training and tutorials supported by e-learning systems like Oracle’s UPK, and embedded into solutions like P6 and Unifier.

Again, I’ve recommended technologies I know and believe in, and there are options to these as well. But, I like these ones ;^). Again, of course, these have to be recommended within the context of optimized processes and training.

Also, if you are an EPC Contractor who is still working with an E&P company, you may want to recommend project optimization solutions like those recommended above to your clients, or as a value-added service you can provide them.

Laid off from an E&P or an EPC?

This is a troubling position to be in, for sure. I commiserate with you if you are in this circumstance. But, there are a number of opportunities out there to consider:

  • There are still companies hiring – but opportunities are definitely harder to come by.
  • The massive industry shift will bring about new opportunities. I’m not sure what those will be – who is? But with every disruption like the drop in the price of oil, there are new start-ups that deploy new technologies or do new things. Watch for these opportunities. They are exciting. Maybe they aren’t even in the O&G or E&P worlds. But, within the industry, maybe look to things like the LNG opportunities in British Columbia, or for things outside the industry like the construction industry in the US (which has been on a blitz lately), or even for things like autonomous driving machines or drones for construction and safety.

If you are staying in the O&G, E&P, and EPC worlds, then you will want to polish up on understanding new technologies that will make you competitive in interviews. Again, my mind wanders back to project selection & oversight, enterprise project and portfolio management, risk analysis, project controls, analytics, and training. Knowledge of these concepts, related processes, and solutions will help you be more competitive when you are looking for new work.


Thoughts? Suggestions?