ECC '17: Transformative change - a necessity for current and future success

At the 49th ECC event, Liam Mallon, President of ExxonMobil Development Co., gave a keynote address entitled, "Transformative change: A necessity for current and future success."

The reality of being able to hold a successful ECC event in Florida so soon after Hurricane Irma, and after deferring it earlier due to Hurricane Harvey, is yet another hopeful sign of industry resilience in the face of disruptive events.

Owners, EPC and supplier firms have responded to global price changes in commodity values; so far, this response has been driven by the necessity to change. For a robust future, we need to be smarter about our projects so that they are not so susceptible to price changes in feedstocks or commodity prices.

The industry cannot remain in "survive-and-maintain" mode; rather, it must accelerate a transformation to "thrive-and-flourish" mode. ExxonMobil has shown examples of this on the US Gulf Coast—e.g., the creation of 45,000 jobs across 17 facilities with significant investment.

Rapid changes in domestic oil and gas production are providing the impetus to thrive and flourish. The US is now exporting twice the volume of LNG per year that it was importing just 5 yr ago.

The way to transform projects is to lead with innovation, which includes technology, smarter work practices and a skilled workforce. Although many new technologies are available to the industry, a review of project practices shows little variability in their uptake, use and execution.

One example is that less than 1% of operational data captured is analyzed for an opportunity to improve. This also applies to capital projects data, which shows significant issues with material waste and scheduling.

Over the past two decades, the industry was building projects as fast as it could. Now that the industry is investing less, it is time to be more strategic. That includes developing a workforce capable of adopting innovative practices.

Modularization will be seen on more projects, including the US Gulf Coast—a region that used to be seen as a leader in capital project execution, but has been overtaken by other international players.

Another approach is construction-driven engineering, which brings the construction partners into the engineering phase, and even earlier with the owner's team.

The industry owes its hard-working, willing workforce the opportunity to learn new skills and methods of work. This includes the EPC and supplier communities, which are being challenged to collectively re-brand with owners and academic and government communities to influence the factors that make our workforce successful.

ECC 2017

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