Categotry Archives: Local Content

The Varying Standard of Expats

In among a series of rather haphazard comments on this post, reader Kale Sid raises a point which is worth discussing further: the … system that perpetuate mediocrity over excellence in the name of local content allows some nitwit from elsewhere that are not qualified to be painters in their countries to lord themselves around as ” expats”. Unless I am mistaken, what I think Kale Sid is saying is that countries which have stringent local content laws end up employing […]


Barry Morgan, writing on the proposed reforms to Nigeria’s oil industry in Upstream Online, manages to get in a wonderful snark at the end of his article: Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu, who doubles as Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) group managing director, will over the coming days lay out plans to split the state company into 30 standalone units before a proposed initial public offering in 2018. After four decades, the NNPC is clearly in a bit […]


With Socar being a state-owned company in a country which is about as transparent as Hillary Clinton’s past business deals, I doubt we’re ever going to find out what caused the fire on board their platform in the Caspian sea over the weekend which seems to have cost the lives of 29 people, with another 3 having been swept overboard a separate platform operated by the same company. Which leaves the floor clear for people like me to indulge in uninformed […]


It’s difficult to overstate the seriousness of the impact the Petrobras corruption scandal will have on Brazil’s oil and gas industry, with even top politicians now being accused of involvement in an enormous kickback scheme. Until this scandal broke, there were hopes that Brazil was breaking away from the South American tradition of oilfield development going hand-in-hand with corruption and mismanagement, resulting in stagnation of the whole industry.  With Brazil choosing to channel the bulk of its future development through […]

One supermajor too many?

It is difficult to talk about the oil price these days without somebody or other popping up with a conspiracy theory involving the Saudis deliberately not cutting back on production in order to simultaneously cripple Russia, damage Iran, and hobble the fledgling US shale oil industry. Streetwise Professor does an admirable job of explaining why this is bollocks, that the price drop is from the demand side, and the Saudis cutting production would cause them to lose revenue (which is […]

The Peasants of Hydrocarbons

Once upon a time I was working in Africa and we had a requirement for a very specific and specialised type of fluid mixing nozzle for one of our tanks.  This type of equipment cannot be bought off the shelf as it is a bespoke piece of engineering designed for a specific application, and fabricated as a one-off.  As such, it wasn’t merely a procurement activity but more of a mini engineering project.  Hence it fell on my desk. We […]

Ming the Merciless

King for a Day

Several years ago I found myself stuck in some far-flung oil town over Christmas.  As the holidays approached, one by one the company management flew home and handed over to a skeleton crew who would keep things running in their absence.  Due to no other reason that I was literally the only expat left in the office that particular day, on 28th December I was put in charge of an entire operational department. I had two issues to deal with […]

Pass me a white feather

Recently I watched one of Hollywood’s latest outputs, a film called The East which concerns a blonde chick who infiltrates some anarchist-environmentalist group bent on holding unethical corporations to account.  The premise was pretty lame to begin with: apparently it’s based on the experiences of the director and lead actress from when they joined an anarchist collective, whatever one of those is.  Why they thought this would be a good basis for a film I don’t know, but I found it […]

Putting the Low in Local

I once heard a story that the people running a Nigerian refinery were so useless that they were unable to produce petrochemical products and so switched to making oil drums instead.  And this story turned out to be true. The people in charge of Angola LNG seem to have found themselves in a similar situation, only on a far grander scale: The Angola LNG consortium is looking to charter out its entire fleet of liquefied natural gas carriers after a […]

I said scaffold, not gallows.

I have a buddy – let’s call him Alf – who used to run a scaffolding company in a somewhat backward country which, like so many of them, had stumbled across a whole load of oil and gas and had little to no idea how to get it out of the ground safely.  As such, a large western oil company had been invited in and subsequently built and operated a plant in the middle of nowhere (and they’re still there).  […]