Celerant’s van Hasselt on the opportunities, challenges and the sector’s future
Shifting global demand, cutting edge technologies and new breeds of collaborative relationships between companies at the wellhead are just a few of the hot topics facing the always-moving energy industry, and with change inevitably comes opportunity. Maarten van Hasselt, Celerant’s recently minted Senior Vice President and Americas sector global energy lead, says unique pressures facing the energy market are forcing companies to operate leaner, more efficiently, and perhaps most interestingly, together, as the world’s remaining underground stores of oil become more remote, and require more advanced technology to tap into.
Consulting: Tell me about some of the challenges facing the energy consulting market these days?
van Hasselt: If you look at the energy sector as a whole, there is a very big field of specialist companies that work in this area. I like to go back to what my previous CEO always said, there are three hard truths: demand will go inexorably up, as you’ve seen recently in Indian and Pakistan; the easy oil and gas has been found, so it becomes more technologically difficult to find but also is found in less accessible places like the North Slope in Alaska, also climate change, CO2, everything around that. At the same time, there is an increasing gap in the talent pool. So it’s getting more difficult, we need more and we have fewer people that know how to do the work. In that whole arena it’s obvious that people are looking for support, and consulting companies supply that horse power, critical thinking to help make their operational strategy happen. That’s what we’re focusing on.
Consulting: What are some of the opportunities that are out there?
van Hasselt: There is taking place a major change in the supply situation in the world. We’re now technologically able to get oil out of the ground at thousands of feet of depth. There is incredible change happening in the world that you have these massive supply possibilities, but in a whole different environment. In the past you would have one big oil well in the Gulf of Mexico producing enormous quantities, now you go offshore to Bakersfield or any of the offshore areas of the U.S. or elsewhere, and you have to drill many holes, that brings whole different challenges.
What used to be one big operation with millions of dollars invested now becomes many operations that all have to be repeated, so there’s a big opportunity. As it gets more complicated technology-wise you get more and more companies working together to make things happen. Most operations are almost always in a joint venture with someone else. Tens of companies end up coming together at the wellhead. Those are groups of people from completely different organizations and cultures that have to work together. That’s a huge opportunity as well, optimizing systems of how people work together. These are all opportunities for our industry.
Consulting: What are clients demanding?
van Hasselt: People that can actually make strategy happen. It links back to the talent gap and the change in the talent pool and increasing challenges out there. Companies need to make their corporate strategy happen. Helping the people in an organization actually do the things that lead to those results.
That’s where executives are struggling and really looking for support. So it becomes a blend of really understanding the clients, having a good solid process of how you do things as a consultant, blended with an understanding of the industry or the company you’re working with and then very much focused on operational change and sustainability in that change.
Consulting: What do you think the future of the energy consulting market has in store?
van Hasselt: There are definitely opportunities in the sector. What I find very important is that you sit on the same side of the table with your clients. Clients are getting leaner and leaner, there’s less time to think, if they want to make changes they have less time to make those changes happen, that’s very much where Celerant comes in. Our strength is to implement change, make it sustainable and make the strategy happen. I was always impressed if people would make this move from shop floor to top floor and back and show that they understand the connections between the different levels. That’s where I think as an outsider being able to focus on those aspects you definitely play an important role. Companies are too lean at the moment in this growing industry to do that completely on their own.