Helge Haldorsen

Helge Haldorsen (PhD '83) is the general director of Equinor Mexico in Mexico City. He is an industry game-changer who is looking to technological innovations to increase oil and gas production and create a more sustainable energy future.

 1. What innovations are you seeing in the industry right now that are most inspiring to you?

With the downturn, E&P business as usual is not an option. The industry must adapt and improve all across the board - in a hurry. In this “lower for a lot longer” situation that the industry now finds itself in, everyone in the E&P village must pitch in, in innovative ways, to get the industry FIT@50 again.

I see inspiring E&P innovations in so many areas: the supply chain is trying to go from Yellow Cab to Uber using the Internet of Things. Drilling automation (putting a Watson or Deep Blue on the rig floor with big data and analytics operating the joy stick) may cut well cost materially. An “aggregation of marginal gains” approach to field developments can boost value-creation and yield cost reduction via simplification, standardization and industrialization. Going forward, we will more and more be “manufacturing oil & gas”- laser-focused on the margin per barrel and on doing it in a safe and sustainable manner with a diminishing amount of CO2 emitted per barrel produced.

2. How can the industry create sustainable energy for the 21st century?

Increasing competition between energy resources is expected as the world after COP21 wants more energy but less CO2. If navigated wisely, oil and gas will be key parts of the solution and key components of the global energy mix for many decades to come. We all know that success is never final and that any industry must continuously adapt and renew itself!

As mentioned earlier, we must make E&P fit again at a much lower oil price. Let us call this new and improved version of our industry E&P 2.0. We need to innovate and be creative while we compete and collaborate to make the industry safer, quicker, cheaper, smarter and more sustainable with lower break-evens and more value creation. Finally, more than ever the E&P industry needs technology savvy STEM educated millennials to remove the “im” in E&P impossibilities today - and in the process making an app for that!

3. How are you shaping oil and gas reform in Mexico as the head of the Mexico Statoil operations?

Statoil has been in Mexico a long time and we are very supportive of the reform. To this end, Norwegian politicians have shared their experiences from 40 years of E&P on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, where there are more than 50 operators, with their Mexican counterparts. Statoil is taking a close look at all opportunities offered in Mexican bid rounds.

Mexico fully understands that to make the energy reform a success, they must offer globally competitive opportunities, terms and conditions and acceptable investor security. Graduating UT students should view Mexico as an up-and-coming job opportunity theatre of operations. If you don’t speak Spanish, take a class!

4. What advice would you give to current petroleum engineering students?

Congratulations with your choice of occupation! Energy fuels human progress, raises living standards and in this year alone will lift about 150 million people out of poverty. Oil and gas will be needed for many decades to come, so stay the course. Even in 2040, more than 40 percent of the global energy supply will come from oil and gas. In life, we all create our own luck and nothing creates luck like new useful incremental and radical innovative ideas – particularly coming from you. Good ideas come from other disciplines and sciences and tribes. Surprise yourself with taking steps to become a more risk-taking, innovative, creative, and passionate version of yourself – and luck will follow!

5. How do you think big data and automation technologies will impact the future of the industry?

I recently saw a picture of a driller in a driller’s cabin in front of the usual data-screens holding on to a joy-stick. The caption underneath the picture asked: What is wrong with this picture? And, the correct answer is: The driller!

In the future, the driller becomes the drilling process operator while a trained (on the first few wells drilled) computer is doing the drilling based on an endless feed of big data from sensors everywhere. I firmly believe that big digital data, automation, optimization and analytics that lead to corrective actions will be able to boost efficiencies and create added value in the field.