In this episode of The Drill Down, Marty Stetzer sits down with Dick Ghiselin, a long time friend and industry veteran, to discuss current topics in oil and gas and this years Offshore Technology Conference.
Dick retired from Schlumberger after 31 years in the business, with specialized knowledge of offshore oil and gas issues.
He has also been passionate trainer and educator for many years. As he says:
“If the student fails to learn, the instructor failed to teach.”
A great part of this podcast is the discussion on how to make the most of your visit to the OTC! Don’t miss it…
Listen to The Drill Down with Marty Stetzer below:
Hi everyone, and welcome to the Drill Down with Marty Stetzer. This podcast is part of our EKTI Oil and Gas Learning Network, and brought to you by Oil 101, our free introduction to oil and gas.
Today I’ll be speaking with Dick Ghiselin, a longtime friend and industry veteran. Dick, could you take a minute and introduce yourself to our listening audience?
Okay. My background, I guess, was started as a … I’m a mechanical engineering graduate of Texas A&M University. Like most Aggies of my time, the first job we had was of the United States Armed Forces.
I joined the Army, and was posted to West Germany, at that time, with my engineering degree in hand. However, I found out there is a big discrepancy between what Army officers make and engineers make, and so I made the decision to join the oil and gas industry.
My first assignment was offshore Louisiana, from a little town called Venice, Louisiana, which is 100 miles south of New Orleans right on the Mississippi River. That’s when I became most fascinated with the offshore business because it’s unique.
It’s quite different from the land business. Quite similar too, but it’s different enough that it has a flavor all its own. I worked for Schlumberger for 31 years in various engineering positions, and I retired in 1995.
Never lost my interest in the oil and gas industry, never lost my amazement at the tremendous technology that is driving the industry today and has actually sustained the industry and will continue to sustain it for many years.
Dick, you’re like a number of our other associates who not only know the industry, but love to train. Tell again our audience a little bit of your oil and gas training background, because I found it was really unusual when I first met you.
Okay. You learn your training in the Army, believe it or not, because the Army has an interesting concept.
That is, if the student fails to learn, the instructor failed to teach. You never want to be an instructor who fails to teach.
With that in mind, when I went to work for Schlumberger, one of the first things they do is they put you …
Every engineer is put into a 30 month oil and gas training program where he is graduated up to the point of being called a general field engineer, capable of doing anything anywhere.
However, the training was, to be honest, quite abysmal. It was on-the-job training with no books and no help. As a result, you had tremendous inconsistencies between 1 engineer and another, what he knew and what he could do.
I was made a learning center manager, and one of my objectives was to objectivize the entire oil and gas training program so that the students could then learn, and know that what they were learning, know what was expected of them, and then be able to deliver it.
That’s still in effect today from what you told me, and …
Yes, it is.
…it has a very good instructional design orientation.
Learning objectives, demonstrations, etc.
That’s exactly right. What we say is, after taking this lesson, the student will be able to go ahead and complete that sentence with an objective.
Then that makes it very easy for us to design a training course that enables a student to do that very same thing within the time frame and money and everything constraints.
It also helps them understand where they are in the course, because they ask themselves a question. Can I do this thing? If the answer is no, then they need to go back to study or ask for help. If the answer is, “Yes, I’ve got it, I can do this thing,” then they go on to the next thing. It’s a self-paced learning thing. That’s how the program works, based on objectives.
Awesome. We’ve often talked about one of the best learning opportunities is coming up in Houston the first week in May.
The Offshore Technology Conference. Like you, as a mechanical engineer, I think it’s the world’s biggest science fair.
Having been there a half a dozen times with you and on my own, it can be a little overwhelming to someone who’s either new to the industry or really doesn’t know enough about how to get started.
How about some clues? If this is your first OTC, what are some clues for the people that might be interested in coming?
I would say that the first one is have an objective. That is, if you go there without one, you’re just blown away by the hundreds and hundreds of booths, each trying to sell, each trying to explain what they’re doing.
There’s no way that a novice, a first-timer, would be able to get much out of it. I would suggest making a list of companies that you want to see. They give you a free map when you register.
Mark out the location of their booths on the map. Figure out a path that you could take that is most efficient so you’re not zigzagging all over the place, and do that. I would recommend that you look at Spotlight Award winners.
Now the OTC has a Spotlight program which recognized the best technology inventions of the past year. If you just want to get a flavor of the industry, you could learn a lot by going around to the various Spotlight winners and asking them to explain what their winning idea was, how it works, and what the benefit is.
If you could do that, then you would understand very clearly what things are regarded as valuable to the industry, because that’s one of the critiques of the Spotlight Award is, is this thing really a valuable thing or is just a flash in the pan?
That would help you do it. I think that the number of Spotlight Awards is about 10. I think that if you went to all of them in 1 day, you’d really be doing the right thing.
A couple of logistics items I can recommend. Do not drive to the OTC. No matter what time you go, unless you’re there at 7:00 in the morning, you end up parking in the boondocks. The most efficient way I find to go to the OTC is to take the METRO.
I think you do the same thing, even from Kingwood, right?
Exactly. You can’t take the METRO from Kingwood yet, but you can drive to the northernmost METRO station, and for the same fee, $1.25, it will take you right to the OTC.
You can park for free in the METRO-sponsored lots that are secured, and then ride the METRO train right into the OTC, and then leave the same way. The other thing you didn’t mention is all the traffic. When you get ready to go home in the evening, there’s no traffic. You just get on the train. It takes you way up north, and there is no traffic at all.
Awesome. A second thing I’d recommend is really wear strong shoes or your cowboy boots, because no matter how well Dick tells you to lay out that plan in going through the event, I always end up doubling back and tripling back. The other thing you once told me is there’s really good days to go to the OTC if it’s your first time. There’s days that may not be so good.
That’s right. That’s right. There’s a 4 day program. The first day, Monday, is a good one. Actually I’d recommend Monday as a very good one.
Everybody’s fresh. They have their best people on the booth on Monday. If you’re going to see the Spotlight Awards, you will get the sharpest individual to give the explanation to you.
Tuesday is very busy. The reason is is a lot of the folks from Louisiana come on Tuesday, because they have to go in to their own offices on Monday and check all of the stuff that went on that weekend. They really will fly over on Monday evening and then show up Tuesday morning. It’s very crowded on Tuesday. Wednesday’s a good day, but Thursday is …
Everybody’s tired. They’re ready to go home. There also are gangs and gangs of high schoolers that are honored guests, and they were taken around, but they create a lot of traffic issues.
Terrific. Terrific. The other thing I didn’t learn until probably my second time, because I was so overwhelmed with all the equipment, was the number of papers that are offered. Tell people a little bit about what is going on with the technical paper programs.
The technical paper programs are a method for people who are inventive to tell about their invention in a formal way. The papers are peer reviewed. Then they’re delivered, which means it puts a certain amount of authenticity to what they have.
They are completely affiliated with all the technical societies, like Society of Petroleum Engineers, Society of Chemical Engineers, and so on. As a result, the papers cover a very broad spectrum of technologies. One of the things when you register as a visitor, you can get a CD with all of the papers on it.
It’s called the Proceedings. I would strongly recommend you get that, because it will serve as a handy, very thorough reference for you later on in the year. If you say, “Well, you know, I think I heard about that thing,” go look it up on your disc and you’ll find it. There may be 6 or 7 papers that addressed that particular issue.
The other thing I’d like to add is, in addition to the booth, awards, and the papers, there’s a series of breakfasts and luncheons. They cover quite a wide variety of topics that you might not think would be at an Offshore Technology Conference.
For anyone that’s interested, you can go to www.otc.org, and start planning your trip long before you head to the event to pick out the papers you might want to see, the breakfasts that you would like to attend. The breakfasts and the luncheons are a little extra money, but you’re hearing firsthand from some of the industry veterans what’s going on.
Dick, I notice this time, I know it’s the Offshore Technology Conference, and I didn’t expect a breakfast to be covering the process safety management concepts that are going on in the chemical industry that are trying to be adopted into the oil and gas industry. There is a paper being presented on the management of offshore windmills for renewable energy.
Again, don’t just think it’s the offshore … Even though it’s the Offshore Technology Conference, you might find as either a mechanical engineer or chemical engineer or civil engineer, in addition to being a geologist and a petroleum engineer, there are some things really in there for you, no matter what your interest is.
Very good point, Marty. People sometimes tend to think when we say offshore, we’re talking about the offshore oil and gas industry. We’re not. We’re actually talking about offshore, so such things as new diving suits would be perfectly appropriate, or a new boat, or something like that is for offshore use. It doesn’t have to be in the oil and gas industry. If that’s your interest, you can find exhibits that cover those things.
Thanks very much, Dick. I’m sure you’re planning on being at the OTC this year.
I never miss them.
Never miss it.
I look forward to seeing you there. 1 other thing I’d like to add is last year there were 90,000 people attending the OTC. This year, yes, everybody’s saying, “Well, with the crude price down, a lot of the projects have been cancelled. Maybe I shouldn’t go.”
I just saw a number that said, even with prices down and budgets being cut, there’s $160 billion being spent on deep water and offshore development projects. If you have any interest in this area, no matter what your engineering discipline, I’d really recommend that you take the time to look at the website and see if it’s of interest to you, and certainly go.
We’re very happy to have Dick Ghiselin as an EKTI associate. Look for more detail on the upcoming Offshore Technology Conference on our website.