20 October 2015

Interview with an Instrumentation Engineer

Victor Das Neves joined TVA in 1992 and now has been working for the company longer than anyone else within the group. Twenty-three years later, he is still here, with about 15 customer assignments under his belt. He spent 36 months at TECHNIP on the Pelude-FLNG project, relating to a floating natural gas liquefaction unit, where he served as Coordinator with the main automation supplier (system and small implementation). Victor recently started a new assignment at HEURTEY Petrochem in Vincennes.

Victor Das Neves TVA Group

What is your current role at HEURTEY Petrochem ?

‘I am an Instrumentation Engineer. It’s a fairly broad field, and my expertise focuses more on the equipment and instruments than on the control system. HEURTEY Petrochem specialises in the supply of industrial ovens. I am in charge of writing specifications and carrying the after-order monitoring of all the instrumentation to ensure lighting, operation, and safety, if necessary.’

When you are not on assignment with a customer, what do you do?

‘That doesn’t happen very often, but the few times it has in my 23 years with TVA, I worked in the Engineering Office to provide on-the-fly assistance, particularly in the selection of materials.’

After 23 years with TVA Group, how do you feel about your company?

‘This is a group that has grown with me. At first, we had about twenty people, and now, we have about 150. It’s more difficult now, but really, that’s what I appreciate right now, that we stick together. We have already been through some hard times. I am proud to be part of this company.’

With your expertise and your experience, you must have had other opportunities. Why have you chosen to stay with TVA?

‘If I stayed with TVA, it is because everything is clear here. There is a close relationship that exists with management, which you don’t necessarily find at other companies. With a direct relationship, there isn’t so much of a chain of command. Also, I appreciate the company’s transparency and accessibility.’

How do you see your role as an ambassador of TVA Group to your customers?

‘I represent and honour my company through the quality of my work and my seniority. I help to place colleagues, but that is not always obvious. A lot depends on the character of each person, and it’s not my primary job.’

Thanks to Victor Das Neves for his availability and honest responses. We look forward to many more years of working with him.

13 October 2015

The unpredictable logic of oil prices

The price of a barrel of oil depends on many factors. It increases when supply is down, such as when there is an embargo on an oil-exporting country like Venezuela, and demand is up, such as when there is significant growth in emerging countries, like China and India, requiring more energy to power their production. Conversely, the price of a barrel of oil drops when supply increases, such as when new shale oil wells are discovered in the United States or when sanctions are lifted against Iran, which has considerable reserves at low operating costs, and when demand decreases, such as an economic crises affecting industrial countries.

We can add one more to these factors: the currency in which the oil price is set, the dollar. Depending on variations in the U.S. currency, which appreciates or depreciates relative to the euro, a barrel of oil costs more or less for users of the euro. These multiple factors are difficult to quantify and eagerly anticipated by markets. The sum of these speculations also contributes to the price of a barrel.

The price of a barrel of oil has become extremely volatile over the past forty years, due to the increased effect of globalisation, having gone from $140 in June 2008 to just $41 dollars just seven months later. It is nearly impossible to predict variations in the price of oil for market players of any size, who must adapt to these upheavals. Of course, TVA Group is no exception.

However, there are cycles that exist, whose length and magnitude are poorly understood. So, when the price of a barrel is low, wells with high operating costs are closed for being unprofitable. Nobody sells a barrel for less than their production costs. Oil supply then goes down, and prices go up. Conversely, when prices reach a higher level, wells with high operating costs once again become profitable, which results in a higher supply of oil and a downward trend in prices.

10 October 2015

Maurel&Prom: ONAL production centre activity

Over the past few months, there has been significant commissioning activity in Gabon. Our teams worked in alternating 4-6 week periods between mid-April and the end of June, to commission and provided assistance in starting up the ONAL production centre and P-106 W water production platform.

Un employé TVA sur le champ ONAL (Gabon)

The highlight of the period was when the production centre was shut down in order to connect the pipelines from train B to the existing facility and to load the new program onto the production centre’s machinery.

These operations were carried out on 15 June and were a total success. The site was able to resume operations on 16 June at 5:30 a.m. A new commissioning assignment is currently underway to switch some production platforms to the 20 kV network.

Engineering works related to phase V.1 “Increasing Electricity Generation” follow the construction plan for 2016.

The ONAL onshore production centre is located 80 km south of Lambarene and 170 km east of Port-Gentil.

03 October 2015

Social Networks: New Media

In terms of audience, market capitalisation, and influence, social networks now play a key role in the industrial world. They are seen much like televisions, where an individual channel can be created by adding interesting streams. The resulting timeline then serves as a gateway from the user to the rest of the web.

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have become essential checkpoints with regard to information, personal networking (friends and family), and professional networking (colleagues, employers, customers, and suppliers).

People are spending an increasing amount on time on social networks, and many users log in on a daily basis. For TVA Group, this cannot be overlooked. Social media is more than just another means of communication; it has become THE means of communication for at least three reasons.

  • First, it is free. There is no need to pay to broadcast or search for content. Of course, some social networks (like LinkedIn), offer a Freemium model, in which subscribing leads to additional services. However, it is not necessary to pay for an effective and relevant tool, far from it.
  • Secondly, it is recognised by everyone in the business. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on the Internet and the relevance of social networks, but from a business standpoint, a company cannot ignore its use for its customers, suppliers, employees, candidates, and so on.
  • Thirdly, social networks provide users with significant control over their communications. Unlike traditional media, users can dictate their frequency of communication and their format (image, video, or text), and they can make adjustments based on the results obtained.

Social networks have a key role in the future of media, both for employees and for citizens at large.