By Linda Hsieh, associate editor
Graduating with honors at the height of the boom in 1980 with a petroleum engineering degree, Kevin Lacy had his pickings. His five summer jobs had given him a taste of drilling, production and reservoir engineering, but he wanted to learn things first-hand, and he knew it was drilling that would get him into the field right away.
He ended up choosing Chevron because the company sends its drilling engineers to the rigs in a leadership capacity. “I had learned the field work and basics through summer and part-time jobs, and I was ready to take it to the next level,” he said.
Since it was 1980 and oil companies couldn’t get their wells drilled fast enough, Mr Lacy had no trouble finding responsibilities as quickly as he could handle them. In just two years, he had completed challenging operations both onshore and offshore. By 1984 he received an overseas assignment for China. By 1990 he was in Angola, leading production operations under tense civil war conditions. And by 1996 he was off to Aberdeen as general manager, operations covering engineering, drilling and production.
Together, these experiences gave him an international perspective of the business and taught him the value of being “global-minded and flexible,” he said.
Returning to the US in 1999, Mr Lacy held a series of positions before being named Chevron’s vice president – global drilling and completions in 2002. In 2006, seeking new challenges for the next phase of his career, he joined BP as head of discipline – drilling and completions. “Kevin has very quickly learned the agenda at BP,” said Mark Patteson, BP director of technology for drilling and completions. “And I’ve been impressed by the efforts he’s made to get to know the drilling leadership within the company so quickly.”
Barbara Yilmaz, technology vice president for drilling and completions at BP, also said: “Kevin’s passion and commitment to safety, people and performance are making a demonstrable difference.”
What legacy Mr Lacy will leave behind at BP is yet to be seen, but at Chevron, some of his proudest accomplishments have been in HSE.
For example, as VP of global D&C from 2002 to 2006, he oversaw the reduction of lost-time incidents by 70% in the company’s North American unit and 50% in the overseas unit. By putting a clear focus on leadership behaviors, “getting serious” about which drilling contractors it did business with, and working in partnership with contractors and service companies, Chevron went from “mediocre” to “a leader in safety,” he said.
Today, Mr Lacy is continuing his HSE efforts at BP. He’s promoting safety at industry events such as the 2006 IADC Annual Meeting — where he congratulated the audience on the improved market but then challenged them to improve their safety performance.
“Kevin has a real passion for the HSE agenda,” Mr Patteson said. “It’s a real personal issue with him.”
‘Everyone setpped on the gas pedal’
Q: How is the industry faring in this up-cycle?
A: At the start of the up-turn, there was some blindness across the industry. It took several years of sustained high commodity prices for people to realize that this up-cycle is going to be more enduring. Then in 2005-2006, everybody stepped on the gas pedal.
The result has been a significant increase in cost, as well as problems with staffing, work quality, etc. I think 2007 and 2008 are about how we can successfully manage this cycle.
Q: Are we getting better at finding solutions to our people problem?
A: I see people being able to handle the realities better. The reality is that we are in a personnel shortage that will probably stay with us for a while. We’re only on the first steps of branching out to find more people. Those efforts will continue; the rest is admitting that, in the way we do our business, we’ll be perpetually short in the near- to medium-term. We need to fundamentally rethink how we can get things done safely and productively.