Recent industry performance on major projects has been poor, with the majority of projects failing to meet their cost or schedule objectives. An alternate approach is proposed, where projects are designed to be resilient and so able to accommodate the inevitable changes that always occur when a project is executed.
Uncertainties and risks can often be identified, but are not easily quantified. A resilient project is designed to deal with these risks, even if their outcome is unknown. This is achieved by stress testing a project to establish its key drivers and by putting as much effort into capturing the upside as mitigating risks. The resulting projects can accommodate a range of outcomes and often solve technical problems with commercial solutions.
Examples are given of four North Sea projects that were brought to sanction using an iterative process that combines the Strategic, Technical and Business aspects of a project into a single holistic solution. This Discovery Driven approach has many similarities to the Agile Project Management processes extensively used in other industries.
The one idea that I would like members to take away from this lecture is that the industry needs to improve its success ratio on major projects and that the key to achieving this is to embrace uncertainty rather than fight it. Making these changes will require a change in mind set as much as a change in process, which will not be easy, but is inevitable.
Chris Hopper has spent the last 30 years creating field development plans around the world and bringing them on stream using highly creative and sometimes unorthodox business strategies. These projects include the Strathspey, Captain, Galley and Kraken fields in the North Sea, the Gorgon LNG project in Australia, Karachaganak in Kazkhastan, Agbami in Nigeria and Angola LNG.
These projects were often difficult to commercialize and so required a different approach. To achieve this, he combined his experience in the design and project management of major projects with an understanding of the inherent commercial and strategic complexities to produce development plans that were subsequently brought to sanction.
He has a BSc and PhD in Civil Engineering and while working for Britoil, was seconded to Conoco to be a member of the team that developed the world first TLP for the Hutton Field. He subsequently worked for Texaco both in the UK and internationally.
Chris Hopper is currently Managing Director of Moving Future Ltd, an independent consultancy providing field development services to the upstream industry.