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Student Name: Anas Khalid Abdeslalam

Student ID: 7E3A1579/17651563

Group: 3
Reflective Journal No. 03 Date: 23th October 2017

Lecture Topic: Introduction to Industrial Operations
Presenter: Claudius Weson
Organization: Operations Support Engineer at Sarawak Shell Berhad

About the presenter:

Mr. Claudius Weson is an operation support engineer at Sarawak Shell Berhad. Mr. Claudius graduated with a bachelor in petroleum
engineering from University of Technology, Malaysia (UTM). Mr. Claudius began his career with Sarawak Shell Berhad in 2012.
He started as an operations engineer before switching to become a production programmer from 2013 to 2015. Mr. Claudius has
been an operational support engineer in Sarawak Shell Berhad since 2015.

1.0 Overview
Before I commence through the reflective journal, I would like to infancies about an important lesson I learned during the
presentation. Mr. Claudius Weson started his topic with a small activity, he asked everyone to give their basic understanding about
the oil and gas industry. However, the interaction from the class was weak and everyone was shy and unable to deliver a clear
answer. Therefore, Mr. Claudius Weson selected one of my classmates and ask her to be the leader for the class. He requested from
the whole class to loudly repeat the sentence “We would like to know about the oil and gas industry”. We were required to say the
sentence after the selected leader. After the third trial the class managed to say the sentence in the loudest sound and without being
shy. Mr. Claudius Weson talked more about the importance of not being shy in the oil and gas industry and the importance of
leadership skills. He further added that, in order to effectively deliver a message, it is important to make it clear and sharp.
From my own point of view the term “Industrial operations” refers to all the process required to achieve the final objective of the
project or organization. Claudius Weson presented a comprehensive speech about the industrial operations in the oil and gas industry
specifically in Sarawak Shell Berhad. Mr. Claudius gave a brief description about Sarawak Shell Berhad, Value chain and their key
stages as well as the short and long-term measures taken by the Oil and Gas industries to overcome the current oil crisis. The health,
safety, security and environment (HSSE) is the first thing Mr. Claudius Weson presented about. I got to know that, HSSE is Shell
top priority for everything they do. The company is committed to prevent oil spills, fires and accidents that put the employees,
neighboring communities and environment at risk. Mr. Claudius mentioned that, Shell standards are the best worldwide, he further
supports his statement by giving an example of one of employee working in Sarawak Shell Berhad who accidently slipped after
leaving the washroom. The company took that “small accident” very seriously and posted a short notice for all Shell facilities around
the globe to increase the employee awareness about this issue. Mr. Claudius also added that, at shell safety is more prioritized than
production rate, for example if the manager asked the process operators to further increase the production capacity. The operators
have the right to decline the manager order if the increase in the production capacity will affect the safety of the process. During
my internship period at Savola edible oil Sudan, the company moto was “‫ ”كل يوم انا وانت نريد ان نذهب الى بيوتنا سالمين‬which literally
means “Everyday me and you want to go back home safely”. The moto was printed in each employee shirt alongside “HSE” which
represent H-Health, S-Safety and E-Environment. The importance of safety is not inclusive to companies, in fact each project small
or large requires to achieve the health and safety standards. For instance, I am involved in a project with the objective of designing
a polyethylene production plant. One of most important criteria set by the clients is the safety factors. I was required to construct a
hazard and operability study (HAZOP) which evaluate problems within the process, that may represent risks to personnel or

2.0 Sarawak Shell Berhad background

Shell is an integrated energy company aims to achieve the world increasing energy demand in ways that are economically,
environmentally and socially responsible. The strategy of the company is to create responsible ways in order to become the leading
company in the oil and gas industry safety, environmental and social responsibilities are on the heart of the company’s activities.
Shell has been operating in Malaysia for 124 years in the oil and gas industry. The company’s international upstream concentrate
on the efficient extraction of the crude oil and natural gas offshore Sarawak and Sabah (Shell 2017). Shell upstream then converts
the natural gas to liquid hydrocarbons and market the products worldwide. Shell also joint a venture partner in two liquified natural
gas (LNG) ventures located in Bintulu, Sarawak. The gas produced from SSH is distributed to many industries in the region such
as Sarawak Energy and MLNG plant in Bintulu city (Shell 2017).

Student Name: Anas Khalid Abdelsalam
Student ID: 7E3A1579/17651563
Group: 3
Reflective Journal No. 03 Date: 22th August 2017

3.0 Value chain: Upstream, Midstream & Downstream

If I am looking to work in the oil and gas industry, it is necessary for me to understand the industry structure (Cheary 2017). The
oil and gas industry is a long chain of business and processes connecting together which make it possible for the communities to
enjoy a wide verity of petroleum products, ranges from car fuel to cooking gas. In a supply chain the closer to the end user a function
or firm is, the further downstream is said to be. Due to the large and complex sectors of the oil and gas industry, the process is
divided into three main components, upstream, middle stream and downstream (Investopedia 2017).

The upstream operations in the oil and gas industry refers to the processes of finding and extracting the crude oil or natural gas
from its deposits. The upstream process is widely refers to as the exploration and production (E&P) stage (Industry Overview 2017).
The process of locating the underground or underwater oil reserves describes the upstream operation. This stage of operation is a
highly scientific area in the oil and gas industry which involves geologist and geophysicists to locate the oil deposits. Platform
installer, piping engineer and petroleum engineer are among the people working in the upstream operation (Cheary 2017). For
example, in Sarawak Shell Berhad, the offshore oil platform located in the south china sea are placed according to a geographical
survey which suggest the existence of oil deposits in the region. The upstream operation in the SSB concentrate on the development
and extraction of the crude oil and natural gas offshore Sarawak and Sabah. The term upstream is not only applicable to the oil and
gas industry. For instance, the process of harvesting, collecting and cleaning the sunflower seeds before extraction the cooking oil
from it, is an upstream process. This process was implanted in Savola edible oil during my internship period with them. Furthermore,
I was handling the upstream process in my design project of a low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plant. I was required to study and
identify the specification of the raw material needed to produce LDPE. From my study I found that, bioethanol with a purity of 95%
and flowrate of 14000 kg per day is required to achieve our final product with the lowest environmental impact possible due to the
green properties of the ethanol.

The midstream operations are the links between the upstream and downstream processes. The midstream process focuses on the
storage and transport of the crude oil or natural gas deposits extracted in the upstream stage. The most recognized method of
transportation in the oil and gas industry is the piping networks which utilized to transfer the crude oil form the upstream stage to
the downstream stage. The process of delivering the oil to the consumers by oil tankers or railways is also considered a middle
stream process. In Sarawak Shell Berhad, the crude oil from the offshore platforms are transported through an underwater pipeline
until the storage tanks located in Miri. I can relate the middle stream operations to my design project, as all the fluids in the LDPE
process are transferred through pipelines. The process flow diagram is a clear representative of the pipeline systems in the production

The downstream operation is the final and most varied process in the structure of the oil and gas industry. The process includes
the oil refineries and marketing. The crude oil or natural gas extracted from the reservoir (upstream) is transported through the
pipelines (midstream) and then refined and treated to produce the final desired products such as gasoline, fuel oils and petroleum-
based products. The downstream stage provides the closest connection to everyday consumer as the products are then marketed and
distributed to the them (Bass 2017). The downstream operation also includes the manufacturing of petrochemicals and plastics.
Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis (SMDS) is a downstream stage operation in which the natural gas is fed to a gasification process
with the addition of pure oxygen gas form an air separation unit. The gasification process effluent is then synthesized, separated
and converted into hydrocarbons products. Shall has one of the largest fuel retail in Malaysia with over 900 retail stations and hold
number one position in the retail market share. Form my internship experience with Savola edible oil, the downstream operations
in the cooking oil process consist of the purification process of the crude oil and retailing. The crude sunflower seed oil is introduced
to multiple processes which removes the fatty acids and soups from the oil. The purified oil is then bleached to improve the color
of oil. Then the oil is introduced to a distillation column (deodorizer) in which all the odor from the oil is removed. The final oil
product is then packaged and send to the markets.

4.0 Full Cycle of Oil and Gas Industry

There are five fundamental stages in the exploration and production process of the oil and gas industry. The stages describe the life
cycle of the process starting from the exploration of the reservoir to the decommissioning of the platform. The stages are illustrated
in further in the following
Student Name: Anas Khalid Abdeslalam
Student ID: 7E3A1579/17651563
Group: 3
Reflective Journal No. 03 Date: 23th October 2017

Exploration stage:

The oil and gas exploration stage is where the petroleum geologist and geophysicist survey a specific region to look for hydrocarbons
deposits under the earth’s surface. Primary technology such as seismic surveys and drilling wells are used to look for oil deposits.
The exploration stage requires a high capital investment and it is surrounded by many risky operations. This is due to the high
expenditure associated with the process. in addition to that, the probability of finding an empty reservoir with no trace of
hydrocarbons is quite high (Aduhene 2016). Therefore, companies are required to drill more than one well in the same region to
increase the possibility of finding the right well with the desired oil properties. Samples are then taken from the drilled wells to
identify the properties and characteristics of the oil deposits inside the well. The collected samples revels information about the
content of hydrocarbons in the deposits, the estimated amount of oil and gas and the depth of the oil reservoir. I always used to have
an argument with my colleges from petroleum engineering about their scope of work. I used to tell them that, the only thing a
petroleum engineer do is to find a well, the rest is handled by the chemical engineer. However, now I realized that, the process of
finding the oil and extract it from the ground is a complex and risky operation. The successful of the following stage (Appraisal
stage) is highly dependent on the company’s discussion of developing the oil well or not.

Appraisal stage:

After the company is successfully managed to find and allocate the oil reservoir with the desired hydrocarbons properties, the
appraisal stage is initiated. The main purpose of this stage is to minimize the uncertainties or possibilities of losses related to the
size of oil or gas filed and its properties. In this stage more oil wells are drilled, and multiple samples are collected to further support
the results obtained during the exploration stage (Aduhene 2016). Despite the high cost and time loss of the appraisal stage, it is
important to make sure that, the future of the process is profitable and successful. One of the challenges that are faced by the
companies in the appraisal stage is the ability to develop the field based on the safety precautions and with reference to communities
and environmental regulations. If is the appraisal stage is successful then, the company will start with the development stage.

Development stage:

The development stage is the third stage in the oil and gas industry life cycle. The stage is commissioned after the successful of the
appraisal stage and before the full production process. The main activities in the developing stage involves, the formation of a plan
to construct the oil field with the inclusion of the number of potential oil wells needs to be drilled (Aduhene 2016). The selection
of the best design for the production well, as Mr. Claudius mentioned there are many types of well with each pose a different
challenge to extract the oil or gas from. Therefore, the company is required to select the correct and suitable approach to extract the
oil or gas from the well safely and productively. The company is also required to decide what production facility is needed to
process the extracted oil or gas before it send to the downstream processes. The transportation method of the oil from the rig to the
processing facility needs to be considered. The type of offshore platform in SSH is recognized as a fixed platform. The platform is
selected due to its stability against the bad weather conditions of the South china sea. In addition to the that, the platform is relatively
cheaper and easier to build. The risk of accident at this stage is at its highest due to the large number of people involves in this
process. Therefore, shell is committed to run their business in the most reliable and safe manner. Once the company have
successfully completed all the important process in the developing stage, it then proceeds to the production stage.

Production stage:

The production stage is the last but not least cycle in the oil and gas industry. It is the stage in which the hydrocarbons are extracted
from the wells and company starts to get revenue from selling the oil or gas to the consumers. The production stage involves many
processes, from the refining process of oil and gas to the retailing. The company will start seeing profit from the process after the
revenue exceeds the capital investment of the company (Aduhene 2016). the production process in the oil and gas industry have the
potential to last from more than 40 years depending on the size of the oil field and how expensive is to keep the production process
running. At this stage operators are required to work for more than one shifts a day. Process operators, reservoir engineers and sales
and marketing experts are all involves in the production stage. Mr. Claudius shared his experience in SSH offshore platform. He
noted that, the operators at SSH are required to work in two shifts and he also added that, there are more than four meals a day and
Mr. Claudius sarcastically said, “usually the employee at the platform go to their homes with more weight”. At the end of the
production stage, the process of decommissioned will take place.

Student Name: Anas Khalid Abdelsalam
Student ID: 7E3A1579/17651563
Group: 3
Reflective Journal No. 03 Date: 22th August 2017

Decommissioning stage:

Decommissioning in the oil and gas industry is a term used to describe the removing of the production facilities and restoring the
oil and gas sites that are no longer profitable. The term is mainly used to refer to the offshore platforms. The oil and gas offshore
platforms are large structures requires tons of materials to construct and operate. At the end of the operation life cycle, the offshore
platform needs to be dismantled and removed safely and with accordance to the environmental and government regulations. The
decommissioning stage contain a lot of risks and uncertainties as any minor mistake may cause a major disaster. For example, if
the oil rig was not sealed or closed properly, the oil may leak to the water which might causes an environmental disaster. However,
some argues that, leaving the offshore platform without dismantling is less dangerous to the environment than removing it. This is
because over the years, the oil platforms become part of the environment around them, often providing a breeding ground for the
sea life (Lempriere 2017). From my own point of view, I support the process of dismantling the oil platforms if and only if all the
environmental and safety regulations are considered.

5.0 Challenges faced by the oil and gas industries

The oil and gas industry is surrounded by many challenges and risks which needs to be overcome. Some of those challenges are,
the existence of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide in large quantities mixed with the oil. This can cause a huge environmental
and safety concern as large qualities of hydrogen sulfide can lead to certain death. Mr. Claudius told that, in case of hydrogen sulfide
leakage in the process, all the employee in the platform head toward the highest point in the oil platform. This is because of the
higher density of hydrogen sulfide compare to air. SSH provides a hydrogen sulfide alarm detector attached to the employee’s suits.
One of the challenges faced in the oil and gas industry is the existence of water in the oil stream. This water is not suitable for
drinking nor it can be disposed directly to the ocean due to the high content of hydrocarbons mixed with it. So, the way Shell oil
platforms deal with this issue is by creating a well, known as water disposal well. This well is specifically drilled to dispose the
contaminated water in it, away from the clean water surfaces. The corrosion problem is also pose a lot of challenges to the offshore
oil platforms. As it can reduce the platform lifespan from 20 years to only 5 or 6 years for example which can lead to a massive loss
in materials and investment costs. The corrosion issue cannot be completely avoided but it can be minimized by applying coating
and anti-corrosion paints around the pipelines and platforms structures. The recent oil crises which reduced the oil prices from 120$
per barrel to not more than 60$ has put all the oil corporations in huge challenge. As Mr. Claudius mentioned, it is very hard to find
a job in shell at the moments instead many employees are being fired. He also noted that when the oil prices were high, Shell used
to frequently organize events in these five stars hotels, however, now all the events and gatherings are organized in the office. Mr.
Claudius also discussed about the cause of the oil prices issue being the old people who hold control of the oil production in the
world. However, shell has managed to overcome or at least minimize the effect of the low oil price by forming partnership with
other companies and relinquishes some of their facilities in the region.

6.0 Sustainability practices in shell

Shell is committed to its sustainability practices. Shell principle is the help meet the world’s growing demands for energy in
economically, socially and environmentally responsible ways. Some of the sustainability plans practiced by Shell are, long term
profitability, balancing between long and shot interests, reduce the environmental impact of the company’s operations, products
and services and enhance the benefits to the local communities (Shell 2017). Some of these practices are implemented in my design
project. For instance, we have conducted a full market survey to ensure that our LDPE production process is profitable in the long
term. We have also choose our raw material to be ethanol due to its green properties compare to naphtha.

7.0 Conclusion

At the end of the presentation session Mr. Claudius conducted an interview session in which I was the first participant. He asked
me five clear but tricky questions which demonstrate the some of the questions in a real-life interview scenario. For example, the
first question by Mr. Claudius was “Could you please introduce yourself ?”. Despite the simplicity of the question I was nervous
and could not answer the question properly. I remember I said, “My name is Anas Khalid, I am from Sudan which is a very far
place….”. Mr. Claudius, immediately stopped me and told me that I don’t have to tell the company that I came from a very far
place. However, the trickiest question was the last one which is “Before you leave, do you have any questions?”. The trick in the
Student Name: Anas Khalid Abdeslalam
Student ID: 7E3A1579/17651563
Group: 3
Reflective Journal No. 03 Date: 23th October 2017

question is to know if the person is really interested in joining the company or not. For example, if the answer is “No, thank you”
then interviewer will that, the person is not passionate to join. But if the answer was, “Yes , When can I go and work offshore ?”,
then the interviewer will have a positive impression about the person. I did not manage to perform well during this mock interview
session, however it opens the door for me to further improve myself and perform better in a real interview session. Mr. Claudius
also ask us to be active and not be shy if we would like to be hired not only in the oil and gas industry but also everywhere, as good
communication skills is the main key to success. I learnt a lot from this session not only about the oil and gas industry but also
about myself. I learnt that in order for me to find a good job in the future, I need to improve my communication skills and be more
active and less shy. I have made a plan to read more books in order to improve my English skills and maybe join more clubs to
learn how to properly interact with people.


Aduhene, David. 2016. "The Exploration and Production Life cycle of oil and gas." Reportingoilandgas. June 29. Accessed
October 28, 2017.

Bass, Brian. 2017. "The Definitions of "Upstream" and "Downstream" in the Production Process." smallbusiness.chron. Accessed
October 28, 2017.

Cheary, Michael. 2017. "Oil & Gas: Is upstream or downstream right for me?" Accessed October 28, 2017.

2017. "Industry Overview." PSAC working energy . Accessed Ocober 28, 2017.

Investopedia. 2017. "What is the difference between upstream and downstream oil and gas operations?" investopedia. May 23.
Accessed October 28, 2017.

Lempriere, Molly. 2017. "Can decommissioning cause more harm than good?" Offshore-Technology. March 8. Accessed October
28, 2017.

2017. Shell. Accessed October 27, 2017.

2014. "Top 5 challenges facing oil and gas companies." primeast. May 8. Accessed october 28, 2017.