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All Places > News & Field Trips > Blog > 2017 > August

I'll never forget the first time I took an Uber.  It was when Uber was undergoing a major lawsuit by several cities.  When you think about it, the company has been a disruptive force since it's launch.  And since, it's been marred with litigation on so many fronts.


One might ask how does a company like this survive?   Most don't.


A culture of consistent conflict externally says a lot about what's going on inside the four walls.  And it's no surprise.  Uber's recently outed co-founder and former CEO, Travis Kalanick is waging war with Benchmark, an early investor.  Benchmar sued Kalanick on Aug. 10 alleging he duped the firm into allowing him to fill three board seats and sought to pack the panel with allies willing to keep him as a director after he resigned as chief executive officer in June. 


Meanwhile an international search has been underway to fill the top job.  The first obvious place to look was the female c-suite.  Some of America's revered female leaders -- Meg Whitman and Sheryl Sandberg among others turned down the opportunity.  Do you blame them?  Bro-culture in tech is a real issue, and things at Uber are out of control.  They have been from the very start!


Former GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt is among the finalists under consideration to take the top spot at Uber, but at the moment there's no clear consensus on why he's the top candidate for the job.  Over the weekend news sources said there are concerns Jeff doesn't have the tech domain knowledge to do the job.  


I have to ask what about the 61-year old revered c-suite has the board so concerned? 


Leaders don't need subject matter expertise.  They need to bring good leadership, control, discipline, and a myriad of things that Uber lacks.  


Several years ago I remembered reading something in the Harvard Business Review on trends in the c-suite needed in the relationship economy.  The relationship economy is the one we live in where companies see customers as more than just consumers.  We live in an ABUNDANCE of choices today.  In this world, whom you trust and who trusts you are primary assets.  You will choose services that people you trust recommend.  


And let's face it, Uber has lost a lot of trust .... from its employees, investors, customers, and to the public at large.  In a word: disaster.


Jeff ImmeltImmelt is the clear choice.  


I've met Jeff a few times over the past several years.  And Jeff's the steady hand executive that knows controversy. Not too long ago I attended the GE Leading and Learning conference, and Jeff spoke about his experience managing through the Fukushima crisis in 2011... a battle he had to fight all sides with ... employees, the press, customers, and the like.   As a CEO, he's navigated through some pretty decent sized crises: 9/11, GE Capital and the meltdown of the sub-prime market, and the move from an industrial company to a digital one, to name a few.   


And you know my mantra is WHY waste a good one?


Uber is an example of a company that needs leadership. You don't need to be a nerd to run Uber.  It needs steady hands and experience.  


Uber's 68.5B paper valuation needs more than Silicon Valley unicorns.  


It needs a leader.   I cannot think of a better choice than Immelt. 


PS: I would say the same above about a lot of energy companies.  Companies don't need more knowledge.  They need more leadership.  These times call for a different playbook.

1. OPEC meeting today with non-cartel meetings to discuss compliance to supply cuts.


OPEC is holding a technical meeting with non-cartel members in Vienna today (Monday) to discuss compliance levels on the previously agreed upon supply cuts.  Russia is the largest non-cartel member, and agreed to work with the cartel to reduce production through March of 2018, but compliance with the agreement hit its lowest level this year in July, at 75%, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest monthly report.  The news from last month combined with no substantial statements from today’s meeting are the contributor to the drop in oil prices today.  They’re down for the first time in three sessions, wiping out most of the gains from previous sessions.


2. U.S. destroyer collides with Libyan oil tanker in Singapore Straight.


The USS John S McCain, a U.S.  destroyer, collided with a Libyan oil tanker on Sunday afternoon in the Singapore Straight. Currently, ten sailors are reported missing by the U.S. Navy and four others have been hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.


The destroyer was making a routine port stop in Singapore and the tanker was carrying about 12,000 tons of crude oil from Taiwan to Singapore.  There were no oil spills reported from the incident and no crew members from the oil tanker reported major injuries. 


This is the second collision in the last three months that has occurred with U.S. Naval ships, and investigations are underway to understand the cause and corrective actions going forward.


3. French energy giant Total to buy Maersk Oil in a $7.5B deal.


Total, the French energy company, announced it has reached a deal to buy Maersk’s (a Danish shipping container company) oil and gas business for $7.45B.  Total CEO, Patrick Pouyanne, stated the new acquisition will strengthen its operations in the North Sea, boost earnings and improve cash flow.  This is the largest purchase for Total since its acquisition of Elf in 2000.


For Maersk, the sale of Maersk Oil, along with its reserves of approximately 1 billion barrels of oil, will help them to focus on their core business of shipping containers and avoid being spread too thin across multiple industries. 



Pink Petro Partnership Aligns with “CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™” Pledge

ST. LOUIS (August 16, 2017) – Emerson (NYSE: EMR), the global engineering and technology company, has partnered with Pink Petro to support women professionals in energy industry jobs. Based in Houston, Pink Petro is a global community of men and women aimed at ending the gender gap in the energy industry.

Earlier this year Emerson CEO David Farr pledged his support of the “CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion” initiative to work with other U.S. companies, large and small, to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. The partnership with Pink Petro is one example of Emerson’s commitment to support the professional development of women working across the energy sector.

“One of Emerson’s core tenets is our dedication to creating a global workplace that supports and promotes diversity, and that’s particularly true for women in the largest business segment we serve: the energy industry,” says Mike Train, executive president of Emerson Automation Solutions. “It is critically important that we build a diverse and inclusive workforce that values and respects one another and can share their talents with our global customer base.”

The partnership with Pink Petro will provide live and on demand professional development, coaching and mentorship opportunities for Emerson professionals and executives – men and women – as well as participation in Pink Petro University, a resource that meets the needs of the mobile workforce.

“The energy industry transformation is driving a shift in culture and our workforce,” says Katie Mehnert, Pink Petro founder and CEO. “Emerson’s C-suite commitment to building an inclusive workplace makes them a perfect fit for Pink Petro. We’re thrilled to have them a part of our community.”

Ranked #139 among the Fortune 500 of America’s largest corporations, Emerson has more than 74,000 employees around the world. Emerson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion includes support of Society of Women Engineers, Women in STEM, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, military veterans, and other localized programs around the world.

About Emerson

Emerson (NYSE: EMR), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global technology and engineering company providing innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial, and residential markets. Our Emerson Automation Solutions business helps process, hybrid, and discrete manufacturers maximize production, protect personnel and the environment while optimizing their energy and operating costs. Our Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions business helps ensure human comfort and health, protect food quality and safety, advance energy efficiency, and create sustainable infrastructure. For more information visit

About Pink Petro

Pink Petro is the leading global community and social enterprise aimed at ending the gender gap in energy. Using social technology, its mission is to elevate and connect individuals, companies, and industry to create a connected inclusive workforce and supply chain. The community has a presence in 120 countries in nearly 500 companies across energy in oil and natural gas, LNG, renewables, and nuclear. For more information visit

As one of the leading women in energy at  Emerson Automation Solutions, a business of global technology and engineering company Emerson, Lorrie Alvarez Thompson undoubtedly has a lot on her plate.


In her role, she’s responsible for directing a global team in different world areas and managing everything from customer service to business development.


But, even with her full schedule, she finds a great amount of fulfillment in her career—and even more so in the fact that she gets to mentor and lead the next generation of female leaders in the industry.


I chatted with Thompson about her background, her future, and what she has learned along her career.


Growing a Career

Thompson started at Westinghouse, after graduating from Texas A& M University, and worked in various roles from sales, to controls specialist, to branch management for eight years in the Industrial Petrochemical and Chemical market segment. “Eaton Corporation was acquiring the Westinghouse Distribution and Control unit and with all the uncertainty that an acquisition brings it made me explore other opportunities outside of Westinghouse,” Thompson stated.  At that point, Thompson made the move to Emerson—a company she’s been with for the past 24 years. 


Thompson has worked in several areas of the business—from business unit field sales, to International Global Account Director for ExxonMobil, to various business unit and group management roles, and to her current position as Global Vice President of Sales for Emerson Flow - Daniel Measurement and Control.


She had her first taste of international work when she was the Global Account Director for ExxonMobil.  “My job was to bring value to the customer leveraging all the business units in Emerson Automation Solutions—One Emerson,” she says, “One way to do this was to showcase Emerson’s global footprint.”



Thompson is a firm believer that the opportunity to work internationally brings an invaluable experience. “It enabled me to gain a perspective of conducting business in multi-cultural environments,” she adds. She has visited 34 countries and spent much time in the Middle East and Asia Pacific.


International travel aside, Thompson recalls that one of the pivotal turning points in her career happened when the former president of Emerson Flow, Gene Perkins, extended an invitation to an Emerson Flow Board meeting.  “He saw skills in me that I hadn’t realized.  Gene was my first mentor and sponsor within Emerson. A sponsor seeks you out and an individual must find a coach,” explains Thompson.


“I would attend quarterly board meetings and have a seat at the table – it gave me the opportunity to learn the business from a C-Suite perspective and contribute from the client’s perspective” she says. Fortunately, Perkins had the foresight to develop people and expose them to experiences to help them gain skills for future roles in Emerson.  


 “I realized what an invaluable experience that was,” says Thompson. “When he gave of his personal time to mentor me, that changed my career. I’ve learned a lot from those board meeting days! My goal now is to help others have an opportunity like the one that my sponsor gave me.”


Lessons learned as a woman in energy

Having a sponsorship/mentorship from executive management and her being open to trying new roles has helped Thompson reach her current role.  She’s learned many lessons along the way that she believes other women can benefit from.  


  • Take Risks – look for opportunities that you can build upon your current skills and gain skills for your next role. You may not be ready for all the responsibilities of that particular role, but don’t wait for when you have achieved them or you might miss a great opportunity.   She recalls that she took her first risk and never looked back when she moved from Westinghouse to Emerson. 
  • Work Internationally –it brings a different perspective when you have to learn to assimilate into a different culture. She has worked in China when using interpreters was the only way to communicate with the head of process control at a National Oil Company who by the way was a woman. Thompson continues highlighting experiences in Thailand, Oman, Qatar and Russia where it was a must to assimilate into the client’s environment to be successful.
  • Sponsors vs. Coaches – A sponsor will find you and coaches are individuals you seek out. Thompson highlights when Perkins sponsored her in the early phase of her career, it was a critical pivot point. She continues with “you must earn the opportunity to be noticed by executive management by being a top contributor, excelling at your current role and most importantly bringing insight that others may not have.”
  • Learn to be Agile – rotate to new roles every three to four years, some may be lateral moves and others will accelerate your career. Another valuable lesson that Thompson explains is to understand that you will have a career path that isn’t always straight to a senior executive role. There are pivot points in everyone’s career development – first job, next role specializing in a particular area of business, having a family, moving to a new geographic location, and taking on roles that will challenge you beyond belief. Each pivot point in your career should be looked at as an opportunity for your personal life and your business life!
  • Build Effective Teams and Develop Others Along the Way - Thompson has enjoyed the opportunity to work with and lead global teams that are committed to getting it done. She stated that “if you are not investing in developing people on your team then you aren’t doing your job as a leader. You always want to be developing someone that can take your role so you can move to the next one. My leadership compass is that leaders inspire people to follow them and managers have people work for them.”


Supporting the next generation of women


Thompson is taking her lessons learned and her wisdom and hoping to instill it in future generations of the industry – both by growing and developing her Emerson team and by serving as part of Pink Petro’s Executive Advisory Board.


Thompson encourages Emerson colleagues to join Pink Petro, has attended Pink Petro’s HerWorld conference, serves as a leader for professional development committee for Emerson’s Houston Women in STEM chapter, is an active member with women networking groups and is part of the mentor program at Emerson.   She believes that the Pink Petro provides a social community for connecting, mentoring opportunities and through the Pink Petro Live TV segments provide great learning content for professional development.  Pink Petro TV showcases many successful women C-Suite leaders that have accomplished so much and learned valuable lessons along their career path. 


With her impressive resume and breadth of experience, it’s impossible to deny that Thompson will make her mark on younger talent—which is just one of the many reasons we’re excited to have her on the Executive Advisory Board.


Katie Mehnert  CEO of the startup Pink Petro, is particularly thrilled about the addition to the Executive Advisory Board—a diverse team of industry leaders from various backgrounds to help Mehnert steer the growth of a startup in a downturn.  


“As a private for-profit social enterprise in a volatile and uncertain market cycle, I’m thrilled to have Lorrie’s sales and business insights,” says Mehnert, “She and my entire executive team are bought in on the vision and she will be integral in helping me think through the strategy and execution as we ramp our growth in the next 12-24 months.”

1. Oil prices fall on news of shaky Chinese demand.


Oil prices are down today after news of a slowdown in Chinese refining.  Chinese refineries processed 10.71 million barrels per day (bpd) in July, down approximately 500,000 bpd from June according to National Bureau of Statistics data.  This is the lowest level for China in nearly a year, and the month over month decrease was much steeper than analysts expected.   


In addition to Chinese production decreases, U.S. drilling capacity continues to deepen and contribute to the global supply glut.  Data published by Baker Hughes last Friday showed explorers increased U.S. oil drilling capacity for the second time in three weeks.


2. Libya has been a thorn in OPEC’s side, but domestic problems may hamper their recovery rally. 


OPEC’s deal to cut supply in an attempt to increase oil prices has faced many hurdles over the last year, one of them being fellow OPEC member Libya, which is exempt from the global deal to cut output and has been working to restore its pre-war oil production levels.


An analyst at Panmure Gordon wrote, "The recovery in Libyan production has been the single largest factor driving global supply growth in the last few months,"


But the Libyan recovery is facing some recent troubles.  Libya's National Oil Corp (NOC) stated it is now investigating security violations at its biggest oilfield, Sharara.  Sharara currently produces roughly 270,000 bpd, and the NOC has not specified if the violations will affect output.  Additionally, workers at Libya's Zueitina export terminal have threatened to block a tanker due to dock on Saturday unless their demands for salary and overtime payments are addressed and met.


3. Emergency team works to contain oils spill off the coast of Kuwait.


Emergency crews are working to contain a large oil spill near a joint Kuwaiti-Saudi oilfield.  It is said to have originated from an old 50-km pipeline from Al-Khafji, and it’s estimated as many as 35,000 barrels of crude oil may have leaked into the waters off Al-Zour, where Kuwait is building a massive $30bn oil complex that includes a 615,000-barrel-per-day refinery.


"Emergency oil teams are still struggling to put an oil spill near Kuwait's southern Ras Al-Zour area under control," said Kuwait Petroleum Corporation spokesman Talal al-Khaled.


Both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, located south of Kuwait along the Gulf coast, have said the spill has not yet reached their waters.


Recently, US Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, called for a study to look into whether renewable energy threatens “baseload” power plants (generally coal and nuclear).  In the request, Perry expressed concern that current government policies that subsidize the development of renewable energy are leading to the closure of baseload plants.  In his memo he wrote, “federal subsidies that boost one form of energy at the expense of others … create acute and chronic problems for maintaining adequate baseload generation,”.  Although not implicitly stated, he was referring to solar and wind.


But are solar and wind energy the REAL “coal killers”?


Let’s not jump the gun so fast...


Cheap natural gas may have a larger role in the decrease of coal than some might think or want to admit.   A recent report by Analysis Group, an economic consulting firm, stated the following. “Analysis Group finds it is market forces – primarily low-cost natural gas and flat demand for electricity – that are causing some coal and nuclear power plants to retire, and not state and federal policies supporting renewable energy development,”.


But it’s not just liberal think tanks that are making the argument.  Ben Fowke, president, and CEO Xcel Energy, told The Wall Street Journal that wind and solar are not responsible for the closure of coal and nuclear plants.


The bottom line is that wind and solar are contributing to the decline of coal, but let’s not leave out the biggest culprit:  Cheap natural gas.

Winston & Strawn has been named to Working Mother magazine’s 2017 list of the “Best Law Firms for Women.” 

The annual list, now in its tenth year, recognizes 50 U.S. law firms for their commitment to creating women-friendly workplaces through policies that support work-life balance, as well as the advancement, retention, and promotion of women.

This remarkable recognition results from Winston’s significant investment in its Women’s Leadership Initiative, Sponsorship Initiative, and gender-neutral Parental Leave Program, among other industry-leading efforts. 

The award joins a string of "firsts" for the firm in 2017, which includes being named “Outstanding Firm in Advancing Gender Diversity and Inclusion” by Chambers USA and receiving the inaugural “Flex Impact Award” from the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance.

Kudos to Winston & Strawn from Pink Petro and all of the firms listed here.

Several years ago when I was working at Shell, I was in our London office.  The CEO at the time, was riding up in an elevator full of employees.  I had no idea Jeroen van der Veer was our chairman and CEO.  I just knew that he was about to trip on something so I decided to do what we were expected to do: intervene.


Yes, I intervened on a senior executive.  And the entire elevator thought I was crazy.  "Did you know that's THE chairman of the company," quipped a British colleague sporting his best bowtie and suit.  I quipped back rather quickly with "The C-suite put their underwear on the same way everyone does -- one leg at a time."  My point to him was it didn't matter to me that he was the CEO, it mattered to me he was a colleague and I didn't want to see him harmed.


C-suites are powerful, but they are human.  And they want the same things we all crave: security, love, belonging, and safety.


And then a few weeks ago, my six year old daughter Ally and I were talking about other power figures: superheroes.  


From Ninja Turtles to Wonder Woman to Rocky Balboa, my kid has taken to confidence characters.  (And that has me super proud).  I told Ally I was getting the opportunity to connect with one of my superheroes, Sheryl Sandberg.  Sheryl has always had a way with expressing herself that makes me feel like I am in her inner circle.  She's inclusive, caring, influential, and very down to earth.  She's open, authentic and puts herself out there.  She writes what's in my head, often so she's one of my superheroes.


Ally handed me something.  She told me that every superhero needs a fidget spinner.  Fidget spinners help build strength and remove fear.  Ally told me I was her superhero and that the spinner would be something I could give to mine.  I melted... but ...


fidget spinner and sheryl sandbergThoughts raced in my mind and I fidgeted!  


"Who brings a fidget spinner to dinner with a billionaire?"  


As I made my way with 74 other amazing women and men who were there to "lean in" and meet with Sheryl and her team, I could only think, "I know no one but I have my kid's red spinner and its destination is Sheryl Sandberg's hands. "  I thought about it on the plane, during workshops and then one night in the car, with some fellow leaders decided to share with them my kid's wish.


"You've got to do it, Katie," they resounded.  "You can't let her (Ally or Sheryl) down."


Sheryl doesn't teach weak and neither does Ally, so why was I stuck?


It's human.  We fear putting ourselves out there and getting rejected or laughed at.  Like the guys in the elevator with the CEO, we worry what the chief will think or say.  


But when we live our values, we're set free.  


When we remove the barriers we put around something or someone, and we are human, beautiful things happen.


My entire life I've been an extrovert, easy to make friends, unafraid to meet people, connect with audiences, speak, put myself out there, throw parties, and it came down to this moment.  Would I? Could I?  


I was nervous.  The pile of nicely wrapped gifts were sitting behind Sheryl on a table and I fidgeted even more.  My gal pals were behind me with wine glasses nudging me along, insisting I let that $3.00 spinner go.  


And then it happened.  


I did what I used to do when I was Ally's age.  I counted 1-2-3 and jumped into my fear.  


I gave Sheryl Ally's red spinner. She beamed with joy and hugged me.  She immediately grabbed a book and signed it. It was very touching, real and human. She reminded me of that moment in the elevator years ago when everyone was afraid and I wasn't. 


Sheryl Sandberg Katie Mehnert Fidget Spinner


I was reminded that we all need to feel safe, secure, loved, and included.  I was reminded that small is more impactful than big and that meaning is everything. It was amazing to be among so many people who are driving meaning every day in their part of the world, leaning in and changing the world to be a better place for women and girls like Ally.


So, my one take away from this amazing weekend gets back to something Sheryl asks of us.  


What would you do if you weren't afraid?  


Go do it.  Seize the day.  Life is too short to sweat fear.  If you don't have a circle of support around you, connect with me and join our Lean In Energy chapter and you can get a fidget spinner too. 


Sheryl Sandberg Katie Mehnert Fidget Spinner


Sheryl Sandberg Katie Mehnert Fidget Spinner

My hats off to Google.  Really.  They've built an amazing company that we all look to every day to help us find what we need.  And they were heralded for a while as the diversity leader in Silicon Valley. Recently the company has been under fire for pay gaps between its female and male staff and then this weekend an unidentified software engineer at Google (GOOG) wrote a 10 page diversity manifesto leaked by Gizmodo. 


I have to say I read and re-read this 10 pager (it was long) a few times.  And I sat and stewed, angry and at times, defensive.  Then I let myself become rational again.


I chose to try and think about it differently.  After all that's what we are all supposed to do.  Encourage difference and inclusion. Diversity helps us grow by challenging our perception of what "normal" is and this post does just that.  With difference views together, we can see everything, right?


To be honest, I give the guy credit for being courageous but I completely disagree with his manifesto and how Google's new head of diversity responded so quickly to dismiss it.


Let's be clear.  I don't agree with this engineer's assessment at all but he did express a different point of view and part of inclusion is giving people the space to share.  And we need to bring white men along, listen to them and not alienate them.


His argument is that women are underrepresented not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women.   Biology ? Really? I disagree.  I have CRAZY ambition and drive. Ask my husband.


He then argues that the company's diversity programs are "highly politicized" and alienates "non progressives" furthering that this makes Google less competitive of a company.   We all know that diversity and inclusion drives safer, more reliable and better financial performance.   It's been proven over and over again. 


The unnamed author also indicated the need to ask why we see so many men in top leadership positions (rather than why women aren't in top positions), suggesting that they require long, stressful hours that may not be worth if if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.  He defends the need to demoralize diversity and de-emphasize empathy which I just think is a complete misunderstanding of social science.    The last time I checked both women and men want balance, need empathy and believe diversity is a good moral cause.


The fact is women and men are more alike than we are different.  Social scientist and expert, Adam Grant wrote about this today.


I saw this quote that reminded me of the opportunity Google has in front of it, should it choose to seize it. Great organizations use the necessary tension for the sake of progress.   I really hope they take the tension that's been raised to an international level and make something real happen.


But I do think what this manifesto says is we still have a long way to go.  LONG.



Update: 8:45 AM CST | August 8 2017


News agencies are reporting that Google fired James Damore, the software engineer who wrote the original memo.  He confirmed in an email to The New York Times that he had been fired. Mr. Damore had worked at Google since 2013. He said in his memo that he had written it in the hope of having an “honest discussion” about how the company had an intolerance for ideologies that do not fit into what he believed were its left-leaning biases..  Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, said portions of the memo had violated the company’s code of conduct and crossed the line “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” 


What do you think?  Did Google make the right decision?  What about Damore's manifesto?  And what do you think this says about corporate culture?


I hope you'll join me on September 7th at the ADL Women's Initiative Leadership Council for a Breakfast and forum on gender equality.  Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker will moderate and I will join Capgemini’s North America Corporate Responsibility Director Janet Pope, Nation Waste CEOMaria Rios, and Former EEOC Regional Attorney Jim Sacher. More details can be found here.



1. ConocoPhillips is looking to expand drilling in Alaska Colville River Unit.


Alaska officials recently proposed a deal that would allow ConocoPhillips to expand an existing North Slope oil field into an area with large discoveries of oil reserves.  There are some catches to the deal though.  To offset the revenue they would have received by auctioning the area in a competitive lease, the state of Alaska is requiring ConocoPhillips to follow certain development steps that include drilling a well by June and possibly paying the state millions of dollars.


ConocoPhillips has sought to expand into the new area multiple times previously but failed to do so twice already.  Hence the strict requirements from the state to move fast! Alaska desperately wants more oil production to help narrow it’s $2.5 billion deficit, and oil taxes and the sale of royalty oil make up most of the state's revenue.


2. OPEC meeting again in Abu Dhabi.


Another OPEC meeting in Abu Dhabi this week, where the main discussions will center around compliance with the deal to cut production.  Preliminary July data is showing that OPEC output is increasing, and that seems to be a concern for some of the major players that are holding tight to the agreement.  I.E. Saudi Arabia.


Thoughts are that Saudi Arabia will come down on countries that have been lax in their compliance, such as Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.  There may also be discussion for Libya to join Nigeria in voluntarily capping its output, even though both countries were exempt from the original deal.


3. Saudi Aramco is looking to purchase significant stake in PetroChina refinery.


Saudi Aramco is negotiating a deal to acquire more than 30 percent in a 260,000-bpd refinery in China owned by state firm PetroChina.  The transaction is estimated to come in around $2B USD per reports from The Wall Street Journal. 


This deal has been discussed for years, but now seems to be coming to fruition.  China is a critical market for Saudi Arabia, and earlier this year Saudi King Salman visited China in a move widely perceived as a gesture to secure future exports.


Today, I want to look into the idea that renewable energy is the new leader in producing jobs and fossil fuel jobs are decreasing or no longer needed.  This thought is generally held by those in the renewable sectors and those pushing for the move to green energy, and it picked up a lot of momentum with the recent report that was published by the U.S. Department of Energy that purportedly shows more people are working in the solar industry than in fossil-fuel power generation.  Certain groups use this as evidence in their argument that we don’t need jobs in the fossil-fuels industry because solar and wind have become “engines for green and sustainable jobs.”


Let’s step back and look a little closer at the facts…


According to the report, 374,000 people are employed by the solar-generation industry, approximately 102,000 are employed by wind, and only 187,000 people are employed in fossil fuels. (This would include generating electricity from oil, coal, and natural gas)


At first glance, it looks as if solar, and to a lesser extent wind, are the real job creators and fossil fuels are old news – put out to pasture, just waiting for the inevitable end.  Well, that’s actually not the case.


While it’s true that in 2016 approximately 374,000 people worked in the solar-energy industry, there’s a very important fact that the DOE report leaves out.  That number isn’t just full-time jobs. It includes part-time.  Further research reveals that only about 260,000 spend at least half their time working in the solar industry.


Historically, economists compare competing industries by comparing how many full-time equivalent jobs exist or are being created.  For some reason…  the DOE decided to break tradition and publish full-time and part-time numbers as a combined number.  I’ll let you decide why you think they would have done that…


Another interesting piece of information the DOE report includes in their numbers and calculations (but fails to overtly mention) is that a large portion of the ~ 475,000 solar and wind jobs are construction jobs.  36.7 percent of jobs in the solar industry in 2016 and 37.2 percent of jobs in the wind industry to be exact. 


These are two very interesting facts that give a whole new perspective on the conclusions that can be drawn from this report…  


But here’s my conclusion.  Yes, there are many jobs being created by renewable energy and that can’t be denied.  But to say fossil fuel jobs are lagging and roughly half of renewable jobs is not true.  If anything, the report prompts more questions about why so many solar jobs are part-time and temporary.  What are your thoughts on the matter?

Tightening in Asian Middle Distillate Storage Markets

The current low crude oil price environment, in conjunction with the response from Asia's refineries, has bolstered refined product inventories. In contrast, strong buying interest from India, combined with tighter Chinese export quotas has seen a short-term jump in demand in South East Asia. With the above market conditions reflected in the middle distillates forward curve, the recent sustained backwardation has become more pronounced.

Many traders have responded by moving their volumes out of landed storage tanks, as the spreads have been overtaken by their inability to recoup their storage costs.

This comes at a time when alternative storage options are being considered: the trend of traders using oil tankers due to their relatively low cost (as a result of the compression in freight rates) and intrinsic flexibility.

With many traders contemplating reducing the storage lease volumes/tenors, or not renewing their storage contracts, tank owners and operators are likely to continue to face downside pressure on storage rentals rates. With the negative carry in the forward curve, tanking companies, especially those who have recently completed new storage projects in the Singapore-Malaysian Straits, will need to carefully manage their funding arrangements, to avoid running out of cash in a funding environment that is still cautious of oil-linked industries.

- Oliver Hsieh, Director, Commodity & Energy Risk Management, KPMG in Singapore



Private equity in exploration and production

The first half of 2017 has seen a boom in exploration and production (E&P) deal activity, with M&A spend reaching levels not seen in recent years, with a general view in the market place that assets are being picked up by the right buyers; with challenging assets moving to specialist operators in the North Sea, and oil sands moving to companies with specific technical expertise in the US. Private Equity (PE) has played an important role in re-igniting this deal activity, providing the much needed competitive tension, and innovative deal structures, which has helped to close the buyer and seller expectation gap, and deliver the finance needed to ensure deals are done.

“Within the North Sea specifically, we have seen the market has started to understand the attraction of E&P to Private Equity, and therefore we have recently seen PE succeed in a number of deals, most notably Shell's $3.8billion sale of their North Sea package of assets. PE's approach into E&P appears to be less about the high leverage, cost cutting and quick exit model that they often used in other industries. It is more of a longer term bolt-on model to build balanced, complimentary portfolios of assets and strategic plays, with cash extracted through exit rather than in the `ownership' years. During 2016, we saw over $60 billion of equity capital raised for natural resource deals across 74 funds, and this alongside the longer term build and buy strategy suggests that PE will be around, at least in natural resources, for many years to come.”

- Natalie Wansbury, Director, Oil & Gas Practice, KPMG in the UK


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The World Gas Conference, the largest and most prestigious global gas event, will be held in Washington, DC June 2018. WGC has been held throughout the world since 1931 and garners unrivaled industry support and exceptional participation.  


This will be the first time in 30 years that the conference is coming to the United States.  It is also the first time it will be held in a country that is simultaneously the largest producer and consumer of natural gas. The American Gas Association is serving as the host industry association and the event is expected to draw more than 12,000 representatives from the gas industry including business leaders, policy makers, customers, NGOs, media and members of the global financial community.


Under the theme "Fueling the Future," the event aims to solidify the pivotal role of natural gas as a critical source of energy that is clean, abundant, economical and sustainable. Through business-critical gas industry content, delivered by 500 high-level speakers, the conference will address the latest developments in policy, strategy and technology challenges and opportunities in the global gas industry. More than 1,000 industry specialists from the International Gas Union’s (IGU) 11 committees and two task forces work to prepare a program that is unique amongst global gas event. 


With one year to go, more than 40 global energy industry leaders are confirmed as keynote speakers. The Call for Abstracts presents an opportunity for industry professionals worldwide to be part of the official four-day conference program and showcase their expertise to the global gas industry. Submitted abstracts will be reviewed by the IGU committees and selected for presentation at the conference. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is September 1, 2017.


With five female keynote speakers already confirmed, WGC 2018 is focusing on the engagement of women throughout the conference at every level, as well as featuring sessions solely dedicated to furthering women’s advancement in leadership in the gas industry.


“Your voice is needed to help shape the future of natural gas. The World Gas Conference is the premier conversation about our industry and the time to bring new ideas and different perspectives to the forefront,” said Kimberly Harris, President and CEO of Puget Sound Energy and 2018 Chair of the American Gas Association.


About WGC 2018


The 27th World Gas Conference is the leading global gas industry event and is the definitive gathering of influential leaders, buyers and sellers, policy-makers and experts from around the world.  You will hear critical business insights and lively debates on the most topical issues facing the global gas industry today and in the future.


From June 25-29, 2018, Washington DC is expected to host 12,000 attendees, 500 speakers and 350 exhibiting companies from 100 countries.


Presented by the International Gas Union (IGU), this is the largest and most high-profile gas event that is conducted by the industry for the industry.


For more information:

There are those people who do amazing things in their careers. And, then there are those people who take things one step further. They don’t just climb the ladder themselves—they also turn around and offer tools, resources, and encouragement to help other people make their way up each and every rung.


Without a doubt, Ally Cedeno fits into that latter category. Not only has she built a successful career and traveled all across the globe, but she also launched—a website dedicated to helping other women make names for themselves in the energy industry.


Needless to say, Ally (who’s currently working in South Korea!) has a lot on her plate. We chatted with her about her experience in the industry, her new website, and her best advice for women who want to follow in her footsteps.

Getting Her Start

In 2008, Cedeno received a bachelor’s degree in Logistics and Intermodal Transportation from the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, NY.


“I started working in the oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and was fortunate to land a position as a Dynamic Positioning Operator (DPO) trainee to earn a dynamic positioning certificate,” Cedeno says.


“My first DP experience was on a dive support vessel, and I really enjoyed the challenges of operating the vessel alongside platforms while a diver worked below,” she adds.

Climbing the Ladder

Since then, Cedeno has continued to push forward in her career—all the way to her current position as a Senior Dynamic Positioning Operator for a major drilling contractor.


“We are currently building the ship I am assigned to in shipyard, but we will soon transit to the Gulf of Mexico where I’ll be responsible for keeping the vessel on station while we drill,” she explains.


In fact, Cedeno is currently in South Korea working in a shipyard for a month at a time. “It has been an eye-opening experience seeing the ships under construction,” she says, “I greatly admire the organization of the shipyard and how efficiently it operates.”


Yes, South Korea is a long way from home, but Cedeno considers all of that travel to be one of the greatest perks of her job. “I have been fortunate to sail all over the world, including in Antarctica,” she adds.


As far as what an average day on the job looks like for Cedeno, long hours are the norm. “A typical day for me is 12 hours long, monitoring the DP system to ensure the vessel stays over the wellhead,” she explains.

Women Making Waves

It’s no secret that Cedeno is thriving in a notoriously male-dominated industry. “I have often been the only woman on board or the only woman outside of catering,” she explains. But, Cedeno doesn’t necessarily consider that a bad thing—and has actually managed to use that to her advantage.


“I have been lucky to have some great male mentors and wouldn’t be where I am without those platonic relationships,” she adds.


But, Cedeno also admits that there’s a shift happening—she’s seeing more and more women involved in the industry. “On the last ship I worked on, amazingly, there were women working all over the rig,” she says, “There were so many women, I don’t even know them all. I really enjoyed the camaraderie I found on that ship and the fact that I wasn’t an anomaly on board.”


With that in mind, Cedeno took steps to launch “The industry is evolving to become more diverse and inclusive,” she explains, “I founded to report on the latest news in how the industry is changing, connect women to resources that foster long-term careers, and highlight the amazing, diverse group of women who work in operations. They all have a story to tell and hopefully their stories will inspire more women to pursue similar careers.”

Words of Wisdom

Indeed, Cedeno has tons of great insights to share with people—both men and women—who are hoping to forge careers in the energy industry. And, according to her, it all starts with networking.


“Reach out to those you know working offshore and keep in touch,” she advises, “If you don’t already know someone, look for organizations such as Pink Petro and check out There are some outstanding resources out there and a lot of people who want to help.”


Cedeno, who’s a Pink Petro community member herself, found out about Pink Petro in a rather surprising way—from a male friend. “I was surprised he knew so much about Pink Petro and was very enthusiastic about what they were doing in the industry!” she says. It’s just further proof that you can receive some inspiring career help from unlikely sources.


So, when it comes to the very best career advice she’s ever received? Cedeno has an important reminder for all of us. “Early on in my career, I was told to ‘normalize discomfort in learning,’” she says, “My supervisor told me to not be afraid to dive in deep into manuals, ask questions, and get dirty searching for answers to learn the ins and outs of the systems I work with. Basically, he didn’t just want me to know what button to press, but instead learn how and why it functions the way it does.”


Indeed, we’re all never done learning. And, Cedeno is living, breathing proof that—when you continue to search for the “why” rather than the “what”—you’re bound to do big things.