By Joanne Liou, editorial coordinator
In a thriving environment of new technologies, challenges and constant change, a clear vision and a steadfast consistency in the pursuit of that vision will help drive improvement from good to even better. “While there has been a tremendous amount of change in our industry, there are things that are consistent that help us navigate that change,” David Payne, vice president of drilling and completions at Chevron, said during his presentation at the 2012 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference in San Diego, Calif., on 6 March.
Referencing his pocket-sized employee handbook that has not been rewritten since 2007, Mr Payne noted that Chevron’s five focus areas – people, performance improvement, risk management, category management and business leadership – have remained the same and continue to drive progress. However, the magnitude of external reaction to the industry cannot be ignored, and there is an opportunity for further changes. “One thing that is very different today than what we’ve seen in the past is the external reaction to incidents that occur in our business,” Mr Payne said. “The level of reaction today is a couple orders of magnitude different than what it was two to three years ago.”
He believes that the first step to driving change in this industry is to set a compelling vision of what the future should look like. The industry then needs to be relentless about pursuing that vision. “Once that vision is established, be absolutely relentless and consistent in what we ask for – not changing the vision, not changing goals, not changing the target every time our business plan changes,” Mr Payne said. “Be relentless and consistent about what expectations you set.”
Looking beyond the oil and gas industry, he noted that Chevron has been looking for lessons that can be learned from three industries that share high-risks operations and consequences: the airline industry, the nuclear power industry and the US Navy. “All those industries had their moments when they figured out they needed to do something different,” he explained.
In regards to safety, the nuclear navy lost the USS Thresher in 1963, which led to an effort called SUBSAFE. “They haven’t lost any of their submarines since they instituted the SUBSAFE certification process (in 1963),” Mr Payne said. An event does not necessarily force change, yet “if we’re smart, we’ll use those moments as an opportunity to drive change and to capture opportunities that we might not have had, either the support from our management or industry.”
The public’s impact on the industry is undeniable and calls for the industry to prove itself reliable, trustworthy and capable of making changes for the better. “We have to do something different because our license to operate doesn’t come from countries we work in; it doesn’t come from the regulators we work with,” Mr Payne explained. “Our license to operate comes from the public, and when the public sees us as a responsible operator, the public will gives us that right.”