Project Management – An Oil Industry Perspective


 Andy Cuthbert



The propensity for eyes to roll and heads to shake when project management is introduced or discussed can be perplexing to those who understand the significance of having a competent professional in control of a project. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that involvement with a managed project has left the recipients at a loss in determining the value of a project manager, mainly because the industry has designated an individual to manage a project based on his/her prior experience, despite the fact that this seldom involved any instruction in managing a project in the truest sense.   If the designee is not subsequently engaged in the appropriate training, and is left to fly by the seat of their pants, their skill set may carry them through for a time, but eventually their lack of knowledge of project management processes and procedures creates a void that begins a series of events that unravels the project and subsequently denigrates the project management profession.

To address this issue, it is essential to reinforce standards and to ensure that competency levels are maintained, reviewed, and encouraged. An all-too-common perception is that project management is a cost, which belies its function as a cost saver; however, a clear and unequivocal message can only be communicated if a comprehensive training program exists to bring new project managers and coordinators to the level required.

Project management is not new but compared to other occupations, it has been a relatively novel addition to the oil industry portfolio of services. The support of managed projects has been possible through the recognition of experience that the service industry can provide through individuals who have served their time in the industry.   Certain skill sets have lent themselves to advisory positions, often in-house within the customer environment; the transition to managing the project, whether it be a turnkey or packaged service, was but a short step. However, a formalized method is also necessary to ensure that there are no competency gaps and to provide standardization in work processes.


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Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. 

About the Author

Andy Cuthbert

Having graduated from the University of London with a BSc. (Hons) Geology in 1981, Andy went on to complete an MPhil. in Geology before joining the Oil Industry in 1984. He has 28 years of oilfield experience, 10 years with Schlumberger and 18 years with Halliburton.  Amongst the years spent with Halliburton Andy has been involved in projects of ever increasing complexity involving the introduction and coordination of new technology.  Time spent as the Project Coordinator for the BG Group in Tunisia in 1995 was succeeded by Project Management in Norway in a production sharing project and on the Talisman Gyda project in 2004. A move to Malaysia in 2006 saw Andy leave project management to take up a regional management position for operations in Southeast Asia, China, the Indian sub-continent and Australasia.  A year after moving to Houston in 2009 he resumed his role in Halliburton Project Management and has participated in or is currently involved in projects in the USA, Tanzania, Singapore, India and currently in Iraq.  Andy has written or co-authored drilling industry technical papers for the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) on both Directional Drilling and Multilateral Technology and given presentations to the SPE community all over the world.

His main hobby is rugby union; he is an International Rugby Board (IRB) Level II referee and currently lives in Houston with his wife and two children.  Andy can be contacted at [email protected].

Halliburton’s corporate website is http://www.halliburton.com/.