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David Feldman

Oil Must Lead the Way

Posted by David Feldman Champion Feb 25, 2016

Even though we’re all enjoying the low prices at the gas pump, the oil industry continues to suffer and dangerously walk the line of multiple bankruptcies.  Additionally the weak oil exporting countries move toward default.  And even though it’s nice to save a few bucks each month on gas, the reality of our situation is that if oil stays this low, the detriments far outweigh the pocket change we save.


Let me explain. 


When oil prices linger so low, the markets interpret this as an uncertain global environment – higher risk, less security. The question then becomes: what happens when investors perceive their money is sitting in high risk investments? The answer is simple: they move it to lower risk options.  People sell stocks and either hold cash, or park their capital in low risk assets such as U.S. Treasuries.  You can see the results of this by looking at the U.S. 10 year yields.  As more and more capital flocks to these safe havens, it pushes the yields lower and lower.   Case in point, since December when the Fed raised rates the yield has dropped 45 basis points from 2.20% to 1.75%. 

ce: Reuters, Forbes Billionaire’s Portfolio


So what will bring back more certainty and stabilization? What will restore confidence in the market again?  The answer is simple.  Wherever oil goes, the market will follow (at least in this current environment). Here’s another chart showing the price of oil compared to the 10 year yield.  As oil prices dropped over the last few months, yields have shortly thereafter followed. 


Source: Reuters, Forbes Billionaire’s Portfolio


For further proof take a look at this chart that shows the S&P 500 vs. Crude Oil.

Source: Reuters, Forbes Billionaire’s Portfolio

It’s becoming increasingly evident that the risk of defaults across the oil industry from low prices is a key driver for U.S. and global markets.  Simply put, all eyes are on oil!


Knowing this, OPEC seems to be working toward a solution.  Five of OPEC's 13 members (and Russia), have agreed to keep output steady at January levels. The hope is that by freezing production the countries will be able to cut into the global oversupply, and save their endangered economies.  However, on the flip side, oil markets continue to remain fragile with wildcards such as Iran attempting to ramp up production fresh off their sanctions being lifted, and Saudi Arabia reporting it’s not prepared to cut output. 


To avoid another global financial crisis, it’s imperative that someone does something to drive up oil prices.  Everyone will be watching to see if OPEC’s plan works.  If it doesn’t, other more drastic solutions should be considered such as central banks stepping in.  The solution may not be clear at this point, but one thing is clear: Oil must lead the way!

The Best Reason Yet To Increase Women In Business Leadership


You can make all kinds of emotional arguments about the need to increase women in business leadership. I just came across the most compelling logical argument.


It’s a new, large global study that shows a strong link between “the presence of women in corporate leadership positions” and positive “firm performance.”


Released earlier this month, the study is called “Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey.” The survey, which analyzed 21,980 firms in 91 countries, was conducted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-based think tank. The study’s authors are Marcus Noland, Tyler Moran and Barbara Kotschwar; financial support for the study came from Ernst & Young.

Mary Barra, General Motors CEO, at no. 5 is the highest-ranking corporate leader on Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” list. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)


It’s 35 pages of fascinating if rather dense reading. At the heart of it, however, is the basic core notion of the “positive correlation between the proportion of women in corporate leadership and firm profitability.”


Whether that increased profitability results from the quality of female leadership, the benefits that accrue from more diverse thinking, or other factors, isn’t clear. What is clear, however, is a statistical link.  The report notes that the link could reflect, “the existence of discrimination against women executives (which gives nondiscriminating firms an edge) or the fact that the presence of women contributes to skill diversity (to the benefit of the firm).”


The report also makes an important point about the value of an organic “pipeline” of female managers throughout an organization, as opposed to simply installing a female CEO at the top. “The largest gains [in company performance] are for the proportion of female executives, followed by the proportion of female board members; the presence of females CEOs has no noticeable effect on firm performance. This pattern underscores the importance of creating a pipeline of female managers and not simply getting lone women to the top.”


The report emphasizes that the amount of profitability shown by the data is significant. “The estimated magnitudes of these correlations are not small,” the report concludes. “For profitable firms, a move from no female leaders to 30% representation is associated with a 15% increase in the net revenue margin. This estimate, derived from a cross-section, may well diminish if re-estimated in a panel setting and is surely subject to diminishing returns. Nevertheless, the robustness of this result from a global dataset warrants further study.”


Indeed it does. Of the 21,980 companies studied, nearly 60% have no female board members, over 50% have no female C-suite executives, and less than 5% have a female CEO. The report dryly states, “Women do not participate in the global economy to the same extent as men do.”


How do I personally feel about this research? How does it fit with my own experience? Well, over the four decades of my own career I’ve worked with and observed great female leaders and awful female leaders.  Compared with men? Well, in that same time span I’ve worked with and observed great male leaders and awful male leaders. In short, in my own small world it’s hard to know. As we might say down on the farm, it’s a horse apiece.


Which is why, for big important uncertain issues like this one, it makes great business sense to get broad data.

Results from such studies may not always be popular, especially among some male business leaders. It’s just data, one can always argue. Perhaps. But if you’re not willing to listen to the data, then why ask the questions?


Source: Forbes

download.pngSo what do 2,800 or so of the world’s elite energy minds talk about when they gather at Houston’s IHS CERAWeek energy conference? Here’s a taste of what we heard on Monday.

Can’t we all just get along?

Maybe not, said OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla Salem El-Badri. The group is struggling to co-exist with U.S. shale. "Shale oil in the United States, I don’t know how we are going to live together," El-Badri said. Shale drillers can boost output in response to price increases much faster than anything OPEC has ever seen, he said. That complicates the group’s ability to prop up prices.

‘A Decisive Action’

That’s how Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto describes his decision to let any company import gasoline and diesel starting April 1, at least eight months earlier than expected. The imports “will trigger private investment, and will allow for strong competition in the fuel sector by 2018,” according to Pena Nieto. He also said the country’s auction of deep-water drilling rights would take place in early December.

$80 Oil

Good news: Oil’s going back to $80 a barrel! The bad news: Not until 2020, according to the International Energy Agency’s medium-term outlook, released Monday. “The historic investment cuts we are seeing raise the odds of unpleasant oil-security surprises in the not-too-distant future,” IEA head Fatih Birol said.

No M&A Boom

Want to know why the acquisition boom hasn’t taken off in energy? Look to the debt, said Occidental Petroleum Corp. Chief Executive Officer Stephen Chazen. Under so-called change-of-control provisions, the debts of many U.S. drillers would have to be paid off by any company that acquires them. The specter of those large, upfront costs are discouraging takeovers, he said.

A Contrarian View

CERAWeek might be too much of a good thing. “This is the very best of all the oil conferences,” said Torgrim Reitan, the former CFO and gas trader at Norway’s Statoil ASA dispatched to America last year to overhaul shale operations. “But the danger with having all in the same place is they all say the same things and act alike. They can miss the contrarian view. So much of the discussion is about the next week, the next month.”

After watching the worst slump for a generation, the industry is eager for answers

2688694538.jpgIn Cushing, Oklahoma, a series of massive oil drums is storing more crude than at any point in the past decade.  Credit: Washington Post.

(Bloomberg): The Saudis may go public, OPEC’s in disarray, the U.S. is suddenly a global exporter, and shale drillers are seeking lifelines from investors as banks abandon them.

Welcome to oil’s new world order, full of stresses, strains and fractures. For leaders gathering in Houston next week at the IHS CERAWeek conference -- often dubbed the Davos of the energy industry -- a key question is: what will break first? Will it be the balance sheets of big U.S. shale companies? The treasuries of Venezuela and Nigeria? The resolve of Saudi Arabia, whose recent deal with Russia to freeze output levels offered the first hint of a rethink?

After watching prices crash through floor after floor in the worst slump for a generation, the industry is eager for answers. Insiders say it’s not too hard to visualize what markets might look like after the storm -- say five years down the line, when today’s cost-cutting creates a supply vacuum that will push up prices. But it’s what happens in the meantime that’s got them scratching their heads.

“This is a weird thing for a market analyst to say because it’s usually the opposite case, but I have more conviction in my five-year outlook than my one-year outlook,” said Mike Wittner, head of oil market research for Societe Generale SA. “Maybe I’m letting my head get turned upside down by the last couple months.”

Seeking clarity at closed-door sessions, cocktail hours and water-coolers in Houston will be some of the industry’s biggest players, from Saudi Petroleum Minister Ali al-Naimi to Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Officer Ben Van Beurden.

In a less volatile year, the long-term viability of fossil fuels might have been high on their agenda after December’s breakthrough climate deal in Paris. But within the industry, that debate has “fallen into the abyss of $27 oil,” said Deborah Gordon, director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s energy and climate program.

“It seems like it’s never a good time,” she said. “You can’t have these conversations when oil is $125 because then you can’t get it out of the ground quickly enough. And you can’t have it at $27 because you’re just trying to survive.”

Shale Boom

U.S. shale drillers had a key role in bringing prices that low, by adding 4 million barrels a day in less than four years - - almost like a new OPEC member materializing overnight. Natural gas has mirrored the pattern, with surging output and plunging prices.

Now the companies are victims of their own success. As many as 74 face significant difficulties in sustaining debt, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The effective yield of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High-Yield Energy Index rose to more than 21 percent on Feb. 11, the most since it was created in 1997.

So far, shale bankruptcies have been limited to smaller outfits like Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. and Swift Energy Inc. Some investors are worried that Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second-largest natural gas producer in the U.S., could be the first big fish out of the water: its shares have plunged 90 percent in the past year.

The one thing the stress on companies hasn’t done is destroy production. Engineers have found ways to lower costs and boost output at oil wells, allowing cash-starved drillers to keep enough rigs active so that output is still within 5 percent of last year’s high.

OPEC Output

Meanwhile, on the international scene, the Saudi-Russian accord announced Tuesday, to which Venezuela and Qatar have also signed up, would cap production at January’s levels -- a record high in Russia’s case, and not far off for the Saudis. Iran isn’t a party to the plan, and its imminent return to world markets could add to the glut. Historically the No. 2 OPEC producer, the Islamic Republic is preparing to ramp up exports after sanctions were lifted last month.

Brent crude failed to sustain a rally after the plan was announced, suggesting that traders don’t see any change in the underlying picture: Suddenly, there’s oil everywhere. Without a rebound in prices, the consequences for governments -- from Russia to Nigeria to Venezuela -- range from grim to catastrophic.

Russia has a relatively diversified economy, but it’s still running the biggest deficit in five years, and selling assets to finance a stimulus program. Nigeria, which depends on oil for almost all of its exports, is battling to stave off a currency devaluation and pleading for development loans to replace the missing petrodollars. Venezuela is even worse off, with debt defaults looming and an inflation rate estimated by the International Monetary Fund at 275 percent.

“You’ve got half of OPEC in existential crisis as to whether they can be viable governments at this point,” said Allen Gilmer, chief executive officer of energy consulting firm Drilling Info Inc. in Austin, Texas.

Saudi Arabia

As usual in an OPEC meltdown, all eyes have turned to Saudi Arabia, the world’s top exporter and architect of the cartel’s keep-pumping strategy as it seeks to defend market share.

While the Saudis have deeper pockets than most of their OPEC peers, they haven’t been immune from the price turmoil -- especially with wars in Yemen and Syria to finance. Reserves tumbled by about $115 billion last year. Saudi rulers have slashed subsidies, announced new taxes and said they’re even considering selling shares in the state oil giant, Saudi Aramco.

“We don’t want a reduction in supply,” Al-Naimi said after the Russian deal. But he also said it was only the “beginning of a process.”

The Saudi minister will address IHS CERAWeek’s main hall on Tuesday morning, in the week’s most eagerly anticipated event. A packed audience will be hoping he elaborates.

“There’s a short fix, and a long fix,” said Andrew Lebow, a senior partner at Commodity Research Group. “Are we going for the short fix of a production cut, or the long-haul slog of rebalancing the market? That’s what everyone at CERA is going to be talking about. And it’s all dependent on the Saudis.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Murtaugh in Houston at

This week West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil surged above $34.00, as traders received news that an agreement was reached by Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut oil production.  While this a step in the right direction, it wouldn’t be wise to pop the champagne quite yet.   A few important aspects of supply and demand are yet to be satisfied.  And until a better state of equilibrium is reached, the outlook for the oil industry remains uncertain.


So what does need to happen in order for oil prices to continue with sustainable and steady growth? Here are three fundamental principles that must be satisfied:


1. Supply must go down

This means that oil production must be cut by both OPEC and non-OPEC countries.  Compared with current demand, we’re not talking about small cuts.  To see true results, the cuts would need to be in the 10% range.  Additional agreements and adherence to these agreements will help along with Idle U.S. oil rigs not coming returning to operation as prices begin to rise.


2. Demand must go up

This will only happen with the recovery of the global economy.  However; with China’s economy continuing to sputter and many countries in Europe and Latin America hanging by a thread, the outlook for an increase in demand looks somewhat distant.  Additionally, as nations continue their focus to develop alternate energy sources, demand for oil will struggle to make consistent strides forward. 


3. Global conflict must do down

Conflict produces uncertainty, and as long as there is uncertainty (particularly in OPEC countries), the price of oil will remain volatile.  Resolution of ISIS and Syrian conflicts, to name a few, will help provide the stability needed for oil prices to reach true market price. 


With recent global developments, it “seems” we are headed in the right direction, but until these three underlying economic principles are satisfied, we’ll continue to see a cap on the upside in oil.  The battle may be won, but the war still continues.

Amazing article about supporting youth to learn about STEM and an entrepreneur who saw a way to create an impact.  In return, she built a multi-million dollar business!


Former Teacher Builds A Multimillion-Dollar Global Business 'Engineering For Kids'

Source: Forbes

Contributor: Kathy Caprino


Recent research has explored this important question: In an era when women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law, and business, why are there so few female scientists and engineers? Compelling evidence suggests there are key environmental and social barriers, including stereotypes, gender bias, and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities — that continue to block women’s progress in STEM.


As an example of what young women hear on a daily basis about why they can’t be scientists and engineers, Sarah Peters, an Engineering for Kids teacher, shared this with me:

One of my teachers in middle school once told me that she wanted to be an astronaut growing up, but was told that she couldn’t. And my mom was told that ‘girls aren’t good at math.’ Even though that was many years ago, things don’t seem too far off today. When I started taking engineering classes as a freshman in high school, I was often the only girl in the class. Even now, as a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, I am still one of few females pursuing engineering, and they’ll often assume by looking at me that I couldn’t be one. I’ve had males in the computer lab tell me that ‘only engineers can log into these computers.’ Organizations like Engineering For Kids are so important because they provide the unique opportunity to inspire young women to get into these technical fields, and we need more of that.


To help young women overcome these barriers, and more children leverage their natural STEM interests, former high school engineering teacher Dori Roberts took matters into her own hands. Dori taught high school engineering for 11 years and saw a real void in quality STEM education, for both girls and boys. The mother of two started an afterschool club that participated in various STEM-based competitions. After membership hit 180 students and the group won multiple state championships, she expanded the program and devoted 100% of her time to develop Engineering For Kids (EFK).

Dori Roberts (Photo by Karen Presecan, Courtesy of Engineering For Kids)

Dori Roberts (Photo by Karen Presecan, Courtesy of Engineering For Kids)

Engineering For Kids began operating out of Dori’s Virginia home as she introduced her programs to local recreation centers. As demand for the programs increased, along with Dori’s desire to impact as many youth as possible, she began franchising Engineering For Kids in 2012. Today, the company operates over 140 franchises in 32 states and 19 countries. Sales have doubled from $5 million in 2014 to $10 million in 2015, with 25 new franchises planned for 2016.


I caught up with Dori to learn more about her powerful vision to fill a need for high-quality STEM education and to explore how she grew that vision in a multimillion-dollar business impacting youth worldwide.


Kathy Caprino: Dori, can you share about your engineering training and teaching background and how that spurred your idea for Engineering for Kids?


Dori Roberts: I received both my Bachelor of Science degree in Math and Science Elementary/Middle School Education and Master of Science degree in Technology Education from Old Dominion University. Prior to starting Engineering For Kids (EFK), I taught engineering at the high school level for 11 years in a traditional classroom setting. I was also an advisor through the Technology Student Association, which allowed me to travel to engineering competitions all over the United States with my students as they competed in different engineering categories. I started EFK after noticing a real lack of math, science and engineering programs to enroll my own kids in. Based on EFK’s early success and positive responses from parents and administrators, I made the decision to dedicate 100% of my time to EFK, and what started as an afterschool club has since turned into a multinational franchise with 145 locations in 22 different countries, reaching more than 250,000 students across the world.


Caprino: What do you see that’s disturbing to you about how kids (particularly girls) perceive engineering and are taught?


Roberts: When I first started teaching, there were mostly males in all my classes. The longer I was there, the more girls I was able to bring in. A lot of the girls I came across have since said to me, “I didn’t know what engineering was.” There really aren’t many girls introduced to the term. The types of fields that women are traditionally drawn to tend to be more focused on human interest; they pull at the heartstrings. Our programs are designed to teach engineering concepts with real-world applications, and the social aspect of engineering is very appealing to women — the fact that engineers improve lives and can save lives.


Caprino: What do your programs do differently?


Roberts: We encourage parents to enroll their children in EFK programs as early as four years old. Between the ages of four to six, kids have not developed that “boys play with this, girls play with that” thought process. They do not yet know about stereotypes or gender roles, and if we can reach them at an age where do not have preconceived notions of gender roles, we can inspire them to continue their journeys in learning more about math and science.


EFK offers a proprietary curriculum that is extremely diverse with many opportunities to learn S.T.E.M. through content and technology based programs. Some examples of content-based programs include aerospace, mechanical, environmental, civil and chemical engineering. Technology-based programs include robotics, electronic game design, software and hardware engineering. While other programs in our space focus on LEGO kits, students enrolled in EFK’s aerospace engineering programs design and build rockets, parachutes and lunar landers. Students enrolled in mechanical engineering programs design and build rollercoasters, sails and catapults.


Caprino: How did you build your franchise, and what are your top five entrepreneurial tips/advice for other entrepreneurs with similar ideas?


Roberts: I started running EFK out of my home in the summer of 2009, using local organizations like the YMCA to conduct programs in. We opened our first brick and mortar corporate location a year later, and two years after that we began franchising. Now, our franchisees have the option of running programs through partnerships with local school districts and organizations, or opening their own traditional locations. The flexibility is great for our franchisees, because it allows them to grow as necessary in every market.


My top five tips for others to make their dream a reality would be:


Go for it.

It may seem simple, but my biggest piece of advice is to just go for it. Follow your heart and realize that your dream is your dream for a reason. If you feel led to dream it, why not make it a reality? This is especially true for young women who wish to make an impact in the business world.


Develop your leadership strength.

Remember that it is important to wear many different leadership hats. Being an entrepreneur has taught me to be a leader for myself and others; someone who continually reaches my goals and sets new ones.


Love what you do.

Starting your own business is a very difficult thing to do, but it’s lot easier when you’re passionate about your purpose; that’s the best way to stay motivated.


Make everything a learning experience.

As an entrepreneur you have to solve problems and learn on the go. Even failure can be a good thing if it helps you to grow.


Work smarter.

Everyone’s heard the adage, “work smarter not harder,” but it’s especially true for entrepreneurs. I learned early on that I wouldn’t be able to thrive if I tried to do everything myself. Instead, I surrounded myself with the right people and took advantage of every available resource I could.


Caprino: What were/are the biggest challenges to scaling your business that you’ve overcome?


Roberts: The most challenging part of my role has been letting go of some control. As the founder and original owner of EFK, I have been heavily involved from day one. But my role has changed as the business has grown. As a result, I now have to rely on my amazing staff to take on many of the tasks that I once did myself because it is no longer possible for me to “do it all.”


As we have grown, we have maintained placing a high value on finding franchisees who truly align with our mission instead of just partnering with everyone for the numbers. We look for longevity in our franchisees, and we never want to lose sight of the importance of staying connected, and giving back to, our communities.


One way we are striving to do this, and allow more students to participate in our programs who cannot afford to, is by creating the Engineering For Kids Foundation as a bridge to reach at-risk youth. Through the foundation, kids are sponsored and partnered with a student mentor from a local high school for a six to eight week program, during which the franchisee heavily donates much of his or her time.


We’ve been able to scale our business so successfully (for example, we’ve seen 73.45% growth in overall gross sales from 2014-2015) over the years thanks to a solid foundation. We remain focused on constantly developing countless resources for our franchisees so that they can get their business up and running faster than ever. Additionally, we work alongside our veteran owners to develop systems that allow our newer owners to have the knowledge and resources they need to run a successful operation.


Caprino: What are the results you’ve seen from children participating in your programs, and what is your ultimate dream for Engineering for Kids?


Roberts: My dream is that Engineering For Kids reaches as many communities as possible, inspiring the next generation of young and inquiring minds. In 2016, we expect to add 30 franchises in target markets across the country and internationally as well.


Additionally, since the start of our Engineering For Kids Foundation, we have had the chance to see our mentors benefit from the rewarding experience of helping a child gain confidence and knowledge while having a good time. These mentors are juniors and seniors in high school, and already are shaping the future of the generation that will follow them. That is an empowering opportunity, and a joy to watch.


Caprino: What is your hope for both young women and men becoming more involved in engineering and what that would that mean for the world?


Roberts: My hope is that we can introduce children to S.T.E.M. -related fields at a young age and encourage them that an integrated, cooperative approach to learning from our failures is vitally important to their education and the future success of our nation. It has always been my goal to inspire the next generation of engineers. Children are our future, and by giving them the tools and the passion for S.T.E.M., we equip them to not only develop fulfilling and successful careers, but set them up to find solutions for both the problems we struggle with today, and the ones we will encounter down the road.

Four oil producing nations agree to freeze output - BBC News



Oil ministers from three Opec countries, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela, as well as Russia, have agreed to freeze oil output at January levels, as long as others follow suit.

The announcement came after the four ministers met in Doha on Tuesday.

The move is designed to support the oil price, which has dropped sharply in recent months.

Oil prices have fallen about 70% from their recent peak of around $116 a barrel in June 2014.

The steep decline is due to oversupply, sluggish demand and worries about the global economic outlook.

Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi said: "Freezing now at the January level is adequate for the market. We don't want significant gyrations in prices, we want to meet demand. We want a stable oil price."

Brent crude, which had been up more than 5% earlier, fell back to be 0.76% higher at $33.61 a barrel, while US crude was up 0.3% at $29.85

Fears of oversupply have been added to recently as Western sanctions against major oil producer Iran were lifted recently.

Also on Tuesday, Iraq announced record oil production in January, when output from all the country's fields, including from the semi autonomous region Kurdistan, averaged 4.7 million barrels per day. Iraq is Opec's second largest oil producer, according to the International Energy Agency.


The closed-door meeting indicates the mood may be shifting among producers, especially Saudi Arabia, which has been determined to defend market share rather than prices in the face of competition from US shale oil producers.

Opec's plan to drive out higher-cost producers has proved largely ineffective.

City Index analyst Fawad Razaqzada said the move had disappointed the market slightly because many had hoped for a cut rather than a production freeze.

"In the short term, oil prices may come under some pressure. Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction and if other major producers follow suit then at the very least it should help to prevent oil prices from suffering further big falls," he said.

Olivier Jakob, a Petromatrix strategist, said: "It's really the first supply management decision taken since November 2014, so even though there will be some that will try to discount it and say it's not a cut, it's a change. It is a big change in policy."

Oil-producing nations have had to cut spending, increase deficit forecasts and push through politically unpopular reforms.

Venezuela's oil minister, Eulogio Del Pino, has visited major oil producers in recent weeks to rally support for the idea of freezing production at current levels in an effort to stabilise prices.

Shortly after Tuesday's announcement, Mr Del Pino said he would travel to Tehran to meet ministers from Iraq and Iran on Wednesday.

Iran wishes to recover its market share after the lifting of western sanctions against it came into effect last month.

Iran has said it wants to increase its production and exports of crude oil to one million barrel per day in two phases over roughly six months.

The country's deputy minister of petroleum, Rokneddin Javadi said on Sunday that Iran had increased its crude oil production to 400,000 barrels a day, according to Iran's news agency, Irna.

He added that figure was expected to increase by another 200,000 barrels.

At the weekend it started its first oil exports to Europe, and has also been increasing supplies to Japan.

Copyright © 2016 BBC.

Friday, February 12, 2016


The United States, Canada, and Mexico reached an agreement today forming a plan to increase energy interdependence and collaboration to curb greenhouse gas emissions. 

The deal looks to bring all three North American countries together by facilitating the cooperation and coordination in multiple areas:


  • Sharing data on energy supplies and distribution
  • Sharing information and data in regard to new clean energy initiatives
  • Methods for improving energy efficiency across the continent
  • Development of carbon capture and storage technology

This agreement comes just a few days after the U.S. Supreme Court made the decision to place President Obama’s Clean Power Plan on hold until it hears arguments from states and business groups that are questioning its constitutionality.  Many states have made it clear that they will drag their feet when it comes to the implementation reduced emissions from coal-fired power and expanding the use of natural gas, hydro, and other renewable sources.


Regardless of what happens when all the dust settles, it’s becoming clear that clean energy will be a major player in the future.  Canadian exports of electricity to the United States have reached a record high.  And while solar and wind generation have somewhat slowed in the past couple years, they continue to increase at a significant rate. 

Trailblazing Women: Katrine Sharp, VP Group Head of Sustainable Development and Gender Diversity, Technip

Source: Huffington Post Business


"Invest in yourself, so that you are ready to take off again when the time is right. Be creative, and above all, keep your confidence level high - learn something new, study something, push yourself out of your comfort zone. I like the idea of leaving regrets on the last wave - let's be ready to ride the next wave and surf it!"


Katrine Sharp is Vice President Group Head of Sustainable Development and Gender Diversity for Technip, a world leader in project management, engineering and construction for the energy industry. Based in Technip's corporate office in Paris, she is responsible for leading the Group's strategy and action plan for Sustainable Development as well as Gender Diversity. She initially moved to Paris in 2012 to take up a global Talent Management role before assuming her current responsibilities.

With extensive HR management and leadership experience in the Oil and Gas industry and the Higher Education sector, Katrine first joined Technip in 2006 as HR and Communications Director for the North Sea Canada region, based in the UK. Before joining Technip, she was Deputy Human Resources Director for the Robert Gordon University in the UK.

Katrine has an Honours degree in Modern Languages from Aberdeen University and a Masters in Employment Law and Practice from the Robert Gordon University. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Learn more about Technip at and see Katrine's Linked In Profile

(Disclosure: I did some external consulting work for Katrine Sharp/Technip)

Who is your role model as a leader?

There are 3 key women leaders I particularly admire. The common thing I admire in all 3 women is that they are serious about being role models.

The first is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. I like the fact that she got to where she is by knowing the job, working hard, and most importantly, staying herself through it all. I also really admire Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who now leads her own Foundation for Climate Change. She has such dignity and intelligence when you hear her speaking.

When looking for leadership role models, we tend to look at people on the international stage, either key business people or politicians but my third role model is a leader in her field as opposed to on the world stage. I find the story of Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell very inspirational. She has confidence in herself, yet is very modest. She talks about how she started by failing a state exam and how her family firmly supported and fought for her to study science at a time when girls were discouraged from doing so. She went on to get a PhD in physics and discover Pulsar stars. So many people were frustrated that she didn't get to share the Nobel Prize which was given to her Professor instead. She herself is always very gracious about it, saying she was glad that her discovery opened up the Nobel Prize to Astrophysics. However she does also talk about the sexism she encountered at the time. I admire how she has campaigned to raise the number and profile of women in professional and academic science posts. She has helped to develop the Scottish strategy for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and encouraged women through her teaching at the Open University. It is not surprising that she is referred to as the most inspiring living woman scientist and the most outstanding astrophysicist and prominent science communicator.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

On a personal level, I am most proud of running the Paris Marathon in 2015. It was a very different challenge for me and crossing the finish line was a big achievement. It was very tough and it taught me the real meaning of 'dig deep'. I learned that if you really set your heart and mind on a goal, you can achieve it. The training is important, as is the support of your friends and family. To me it was important that my daughter ran the marathon with me, it spurred me on. I realised that achieving a goal has far less to do with achieving the goal itself and a lot more to do with the routine you develop to support that goal. That was a huge learning. As I've heard many sports people say, 'the actual day will take care of itself, it's all about the preparation beforehand'. It's a sports analogy that I lived and which you can apply to lots of other situations.

In a work context, one thing I really feel proud of happened at an early stage of my career. I joined a company at the beginning of its HR maturity and got the company involved in the UK national 'Investors in People' certification process. It was hard and I had to convince a lot of people that it was important and good for the business. The organisation was the first to get the accreditation in the oil & gas industry. It provided the framework to enable the company to move to a whole new level of people management and better performance. I am now in a parallel situation with Technip, where we are the first company in the energy sector to achieve EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) certification, with 8 countries certified to date, thanks to real commitment from the top and support from colleagues. I did not achieve this on my own, yet they are the 2 achievements I am proudest to have lead and been involved in.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman leader?

For me it has been keeping my career on a steady forward path even if it was not always on a steady upward trajectory. I had to have short breaks in my career on two occasions: the first when starting a family coincided with a geographical move from Aberdeen to London, and second when we moved to Indonesia when my husband was offered a new position there. That was a challenge for me, as my career had really started to take off again. What I learned is, whatever the circumstances, you can always keep moving forward by developing new skills or acquiring new qualifications. You can always make the most of the situation. During the first career break, I got my CIPD qualification. During the second period I became an independent consultant, allowing me to work more flexibly and learn a lot while working with different organisations.

My key learnings were:

Invest in yourself, so that you are ready to take off again when the time is right. Be creative, and above all, keep your confidence level high - learn something new, study something, push yourself out of your comfort zone.

How do you grow people in your organization?

By giving people responsibility as early as we can and then supporting them. In French there is a saying "Il faut l'accompagner", which is not the same thing as simply supporting someone - you are 'by their side' during the process. At Technip we like to put people in new positions and actively support 'non-obvious moves', where we give people responsibility in something different and support them to help them succeed. When I was HR Director of the North Sea Canada region, the graduate scheme motto was 'Get Stuck In', and we put our graduates onto the vessels and gave them real responsibilities very early on, while making sure they were supported. Technip is a great company with a lot of different opportunities. When I got my first management position, I quickly realised that the people on my team were very capable and had very good ideas. It was important for me to nurture that creativity. I am very open to creativity and am not threatened by talented people. I like to support people who demonstrate passion, commitment and energy.

If you could do 1 thing differently, what would it be?

I am not the kind of person to have regrets. My father, who I really loved, admired and respected, taught me how to approach big decisions in my life. You weigh up the pros and cons - and the thing with big decisions, is that they tend to be harder because the pros and cons are evenly balanced. Once you've made your decision, you need to concentrate on making it the right decision (unless of course you really have made a mistake and need to start again!). I remember hearing an inspirational speaker once, who had sailed around the world with a team in the wrong direction. He said it's particularly dangerous to think about regrets when you are on the open water. The expression he used was "Any mistakes or regrets need to be left on the last wave", meaning don't look back. That resonated with me ever since, because it's much more important to focus on negotiating the next wave, rather worrying about the last one. I am who I am because of the decisions I made. I try to learn from my mistakes rather than regret them.

I like the idea of leaving regrets on the last wave- let's be ready to ride the next wave and surf it!


What differences do you notice between men and women's leadership styles?

It's all about tendencies, rather than differences and it's certainly not black and white. I think that the progress of women in the workplace has not been served by not accepting the fact that men and women do tend to have differences in leadership style. Research has shown that women tend to be more collaborative, interactive, give praise more and show empathy. Men do tend to be more transactional, hierarchical and unilateral. However, what is more important than any differences, is recognising that there is no right or wrong leadership style. We need to move away from valuing only one model of leadership by:

Acknowledging that there is no right or wrong leadership style - we need complementary approaches in this complex world

Encouraging talent developers and managers to have a much more open mind when identifying leadership talent

When someone says something about a person not demonstrating leadership, I ask them 'what do you mean by that?' Once you explore it, you realise that they may only be looking for traits that fit a narrow view of leadership.


How would you describe your leadership style?

I have had the opportunity to be involved in Management Development programmes and do a lot of reading. What strikes a chord with me about leadership is centred around 3 questions: 

  1. Why should anyone follow me? True leadership has to been earned, and is not 'given'.
  2. What have I done to inspire my team today? (This is the true difference between management and leadership)
  3. Do my team members trust me to develop them?

  I regularly ask myself those 3 questions and use them more as a leadership philosophy and code of conduct for myself, than a leadership style, which is always situational. Those 3 questions keep you on your toes if you ask them of yourself on a regular basis.

  • Positive
  • Integrity

Find your own touchstones. Decide what they are and be the person you want others to think you are. The women I admire the most show authentic leadership and have achieved things on their own terms. Find your own way.


According to an IRENA report published last year, the renewable energy industry supported more than 9 million jobs in 2014. With this investment, Alberta continues its path to building a sustainable and resilient economy.

In fact, the province’s economy is heavily reliant on oil production, since its oil sands represent the third largest oil reserves in the world after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Alberta is also among the biggest producers of natural gas in the world.

However, in the last decade it has taken the right steps toward a low carbon economy, being among the first jurisdictions in North America to introduce a carbon tax – recently expanded to a new economy-wide price on carbon.

In a move to accelerate its transition to the inevitable low carbon economy, Alberta has also announced that it will replace two-thirds of coal-generated electricity with renewables by 2030.

“What matters to Alberta is ensuring that our energy economy is resilient for the challenges that come ahead,” saidShannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, Alberta, in an exclusive Climate TV interview during last COP21.

“Certainly, that’s why we’ve undertaken very ambitious policies with respect to a price on carbon, our methane management strategy, our performance standards for large industrial emitters and our efficiency strategy.”

Today’s news further enhances the move of the biggest oil-producing province toward clean energy, because, as the Minister puts it, “we know that Alberta can lead again”, demonstrating the pivotal role of sub-national governments in spurring a clean revolution.

Minister Phillips adds: “We must take action at all levels in combatting climate change – federally, provincially and locally. This investment will spur economic growth and help with the transition to cleaner sources of electricity, which will protect our health.”




Pink Petro had the opportunity to be a part of EICNETWORK.TV's annual webcast series focused on women and girls involved in science, engineering, and technology (STEM).

Founder and CEO of Pink Petro, Katie Mehnert was invited to co-host the annual event with Dr. Knatokie Ford, who works tirelessly to raise visibility and improve the image of STEM fields at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

After being introduced, Katie discussed Pink Petro and the purpose behind its creation.  Pink Petro is an online social media site, dedicated to help connect and unite women who work in the energy business.  Members include engineers, researchers, lawyers and accountants, all connected and working within the energy business.  Katie brought on and included several members of Pink Petro to share their experiences and discuss women in STEM careers.

First to talk was Chaitali Dave, Director, EPC, and Fabricated Equipment & Logistics with Phillips 66.  Ms. Dave works within the procurement department in support of all capital projects.  Katie asked about the common misconceptions of women who work in the industry.  Ms. Dave replied that a misconception she has faced and overcome is that many women coming out of the engineering field do not have the ambition or drive to be more than engineers.

Nadine Tribur, Instrumentation/Electrical Department Manager, S & B Engineers and Constructors joined the webcast.  She is also a member of Pink Petro and  offered the advice for women to start early if they are inclined to enter into a STEM career.

Dr. Christyl Johnson, Goddard's Deputy Director for Technology at NASA and Research Investments, Dr. Ashanti Johnson of the University of Texas at Arlington, Linda Mills, Executive Vice President and Terry Roberts, President and Founder of Cybersync, Inc, and Whitehawk, Inc were also included in the panel featured in this year's session.

Katie believes the arts are necessary to include as a part of STEM education. "Art drives creativity, creativity spurs innovation, and innovation is what creates new industries, new versions of industries and new industries drive new economic opportunities for everyone, " she said. Pink Petro was an integral part of this webcast, featuring engaging conversation and important views of women who work in STEM careers.

See the full video broadcast here: