Interview: Hashem Hashem
To what extent are operational efficiencies being strengthened across KPC subsidiaries to improve productivity and optimise costs?
HASHEM HASHEM: The historical volatility of oil prices will not change, and it is very likely that technology and the energy transition will continue to have a major impact on the industry. In that context, we must be prepared for price troughs. High oil prices should be considered a windfall, not the norm. This is the mindset needed to drive efficiency and control costs.
Our goal is to sustain Kuwait’s oil prosperity by increasing the competitive edge that the scale and the quality of our fields have given us over the last 70 years. Our focus is not only on production volumes but also on associated costs. Boosting operational efficiencies is a top priority in the Kuwait Master Plan 2040. All of our subsidiaries are engaged in this paradigm shift, which will require us to control our operational expenditures, optimise our capital expenditure portfolio, align our priorities, strengthen our marketing capabilities, and reshape the company’s culture and workforce skills. We must consider improving our current ways of working and culture in a holistic way: this will support the profit-driven model we want to enforce. It will also streamline our decision-making processes, foster integration in the “K-Companies” value chain and create the right conditions for higher economies of scale.
What are the ways in which KPC is developing its human capital strategy to support future growth and nurture domestic talent?
HASHEM: Traditionally, national oil companies have a strategic role in developing capabilities and talents for its country. In Kuwait, we have shaped one of the leading oil and gas industries, covering all the energy sector domains, from geomechanics to trading. We have played a key role in creating training institutions and research and development centres, and incorporated the training element in all our projects and partnerships to ensure the development of local talent. New knowledge is required at each stage of KPC’s development; for example, in our offshore ventures, during tertiary recovery, in our petrochemicals activities and in boosting Kuwait’s capacities in renewable energy.
There are three key areas that KPC needs to focus on when it comes to human capital development. One is the traditional aspect of attracting, developing and retaining talent, as KPC has an important role not only in ensuring it has the right human resources but also in developing human capital for the rest of the country. Second, is ensuring that the talent is geared towards the challenges of the future, focused on the promises and challenges of the digital economy, as well as the need to deploy capital efficiently. Third, is ensuring that we improve the organisation and delegate decisions to the front line as much as possible; this is required by the new technology trends and made possible by the focus on high-quality individuals with multiple skills. Oil companies worldwide are having to rethink the ways in which their organisations function, especially in terms of the traditional top-down model.
How are emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and big data being integrated to facilitate the industry’s development?
HASHEM: Though the oil and gas industry is not typically seen as an innovator in emerging technologies, that perception may soon change. The digital revolution is upending many traditional patterns in the oil and gas industry, which not only allows us to diagnose and control operations in much greater detail, with the cost of sensors and data processing having fallen dramatically, but also facilitate a multitude of innovative approaches to managing the industry, from applying remote expertise to real-time monitoring of reservoir and refinery unit behaviours. At our company, we are not envisaging digital transformation as a simple change of software, but as a major rethinking of the entire work stream.
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