Mega Project Management: Application of Project Management Principles on British Petroleum

Executive Summary

British Petroleum (BP) aims to undertake an investment project in Turkmenistan. The mega project involves exploring and producing oil resources by signing a production sharing agreement (PSA) with the government of Turkmenistan. In this paper, the mentioned mega project is critically analyzed according to five crucial principles of project management, stakeholder analysis, supply chain management, governance and cost control practices. The complexity of this mega project is relatively high because of the range of operations and incurred cost. The mega project is further divided into several smaller projects like exploring oil on land and in the Caspian Sea on multiple sites. However, the complexity also provides with numerous program and project management opportunities like applying uncertainty management and risk management. This mega project also has a complex stakeholder analysis because of different public and private stakeholders. In order to manage all those stakeholders effectively, priority assessment should be conducted, and each stakeholder should be given priority according to the importance and urgency of their work. Moreover, the mega project of exploring and producing oil would also make supply chain management a challenge for BP. The supply chain would involve finding and leasing required land, extracting oil and then transporting that oil first to refineries and then to industrial markets. For making this mega project a success, BP should carefully apply the principles of governance. Among these principles, accountability, transparency, and monitoring are of great importance. In order to hold employees accountable, first and foremost, their role and responsibilities should be highlighted, and in case of a crisis, employees should be held accountable in light of those responsibilities. Furthermore, to ensure transparency, reports from all stakeholders should be collected and shared and monitoring needs to be done through digital means and performance reports. Moreover, cost and time control practices should also be enabled for successful completion of this mega project. In order to improve the functioning of this mega project, it is recommended that cohesion, collaboration and democratic leadership should be promoted. Lastly, uncertainty and risk management should be undertaken to minimize cost and time over-run.

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Introduction

Turkmenistan is an important central Asian state that serves to link Europe with South Asia (Batsaikhana & Dabrowski, 2017). Ever since political stability was ensured, international stakeholders have been keen to invest in the country due to its energy-rich structure (OCED, 2019). The fundamental reason for this investment is based on earning returns from the vast oil and gas resources of the country. Over the years, countries like China and Russia have been prosperous in making huge returns from the investment in Turkmenistan (OCED, 2019). British Petroleum (BP) has a unique opportunity to invest in Turkmenistan. Owing to its financial capability, BP can undertake a mega project of exploring and producing energy resources in Turkmenistan. The company should consider signing a production sharing agreement with Turkmenistan, which would enable BP to find energy resources within the country and share the profit.

In this paper, the mega-project of exploring and producing energy resources in Turkmenistan is critically analyzed. The project is evaluated under the principles of project management, stakeholder analysis, supply chain management, governance and cost and time control practices. Afterwards, recommendations to improve the management of this mega-project are also provided.

Analysis

Project management and program management

Levels of complexity around this mega project

The complexity of this project lies in the required equipment, personnel expertise and negotiating agreement with a foreign government. Beig a mega-project, it is bound to have complex interfaces in the form of task, social and cultural complexity (Flyvbjerg, 2017). Some aspects of task complexity include the selection of an appropriate area where oil is to be explored and then signing a contract with the Turkmenistan government to get lease of the selected land. Afterwards, a geographical survey is performed, followed by drilling, which leads to il extraction. However, sometimes, natural gas is also discovered along with oil (US EIA, 2019), and in such cases, the task complexity increases because both resources have to be extracted and stored.

As illustrated by Jazouli Existe et al. (2017), different types of stakeholders like officials of British petroleum, the government of Turkmenistan, suppliers of technical equipment and general public increase the complexity of the task because managing requirements of all of them concurrently is challenging. Furthermore, as the number of stakeholders increase, coordination between them also becomes challenging.

In the context of Garett’s levels of complexity, the complexity in this project would be high. Some characteristics that demonstrate the high complexity of this project include profoundly mixed team composition, consumption of excessive time and money, political implications and high levels of change, as highlighted in figure-1 (Hass, 2016).

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Figure 1: Level of Complexity in BP’s project of OIl exploration and production in Turkmenistan, in accordance with Hass (2016).

Gaps analysis:

In order to ensure the sustainability of the mega project, gaps analysis is performed. The gaps analysis highlights the current status of the project, where it should have been and how to bridge the gap between the two (Kim and Ji, 2018). The gap analysis of the project of BP in Turkmenistan is conducted as follows:

No. Current Situation Desired Situation Action plan to minimize gap between the two
1. Uncertainty of power sharing Agreement Power sharing agreement signed and implemented Increased level of negotiations between BP and Turkmenistan government to ensure signing of power sharing agreement
2. Problems in acquisition of drill pipe and mud pump All equipment to be ready for use Exploring equipment market of Turkmenistan to ensure availability of missing items
3. Locals against leasing of land to BP Leasing of land completed and site ready for work Holding dialogues with local people to remove their apprehensions regarding project
4. Problems in planning noise barriers and safety procedures Implementation of safety procedures Hiring local managers to effectively coordinate with local authorities to ensure planning and implementation of safety procedures
5. Lack of hiring of petroleum engineers Complete hiring of human resources Hiring highly technical employees from Britain

Table-1: Gap analysis of BP’s mega project in Turkmenistan

Project management opportunities in this mega project

In this mega-project, project management techniques like resource management would be utilized to minimize time and cost. Resource management would allocate human, technical and financial resources to each activity.

Mega-projects undertake huge allocation of time and financial resources (Garemo et al., 2015). Moreover, the complexity of tasks may result in uncertainty, and hence, uncertainty management becomes an essential part of project management in mega-projects (Oputa, 2017). BP is to undertake production and exploration of oil and natural gas in Turkmenistan, a project that can take over hundreds of millions of dollars and years of work. Therefore, to manage uncertainty regarding decision making, communication with both the internal and external stakeholders should be increased (Hogg & Belavadi, 2017). Internal stakeholders include different levels of employees at BP, while external stakeholders include the government of Turkmenistan. Moreover, planning for uncertainty management includes preparing for multiple outcomes (Oputa, 2017). For example, the team should be prepared to drill at numerous places at one time to explore oil resources. Furthermore, to ensure uncertainty management, documentation of all meetings should be maintained. Afterwards, analysis and monitoring of uncertainties should be done, as mentioned in figure-2 (Agnar et al., 2018).

Figure 2: Uncertainty management in this mega project

Program management opportunities in this mega project

As the exploration and production of energy resources in Turkmenistan consist of different projects such as finding oil resources in offshore areas like the Caspian Sea and inland regions of Turkmenistan, coordinated management of these projects under the umbrella of program management becomes necessary.

One of the methods of program management is program governance. In program governance, policies would be made to establish an accountability system, communication system and monitoring system. It would highlight how BP would communicate with Turkmenistan’s government and also among employees working on different projects. Moreover, the roles and responsibilities of each employee will be established so that they can be held accountable in case of a lapse or issues in the project (Project Management Institute, 2019). Additionally, for sharing information between different projects and employees, an avenue should be provided that spreads across organizational boundaries (Project Management Institute, 2019).

Multiple stakeholders – priorities and complexities

Stakeholders Management Problems, Challenges and Issues in this Mega Project

This mega-project will have multiple stakeholders with diverse and varying backgrounds. The stakeholders for this mega-project of BP are as follows:

  1. National government of Turkmenistan – Turkmenneft (largest state-owned enterprise of oil)
  2. Provincial and local governments
  3. Local community of Turkmenistan
  4. Employees of British Petroleum
  5. Business partner – Gazyk Oil and Gas
  6. Suppliers of technical equipment
  7. Contractors of smaller outsourced projects

The major problem that may arise while managing these stakeholders is the communication gap because BP needs to engage with both private and public stakeholders. Communication mechanisms in these types of organizations vary considerably due to difference in power distance in these companies and hence, developing a communication mechanism that is comprehensible to all stakeholders is a considerable challenge (Hogg and Belavadi, 2017).

Moreoverquantifying the value of the government of Turkmenistan, local government and community may prove cumbersome, as illustrated by Alexander (2020). Other challenges that may arise while working with these stakeholders include accurately managing their expectations, needs, resources and rewards (Severgnini et al., 2018).

NOC (National Oil Company) vs IOC (International Oil Company) vs Service Companies (Private) Joint Venture challenges, with JV or No JV

BP should enter in a joint venture with a local oil and gas company of Turkmenistan, i.e. Gazyk Oil and Gas. Gazyk has been operating in Turkmenistan for over a decade and has since accumulated intimate knowledge about working in the country. It is the first local company that obtained a license for exploring and producing oil resources in Turkmenistan (Gazyk, 2019). By entering into a joint venture with Gazyk, BP will share the risks of time and cost over-run. Moreover, Gazyk will also help BP in its mega-project by giving information about untapped areas with abundant energy resources, conditions of the local workforce and how to maintain relationships with authorities (Gijic et al., 2015).

Both Gazyk and BP have alternate objectives to fulfil and goals to meet. Gazyk is working to become a significant local oil producing company to diminish the impact of foreign organisations. However, BP itself is a foreign organisation which aims to earn by exploring and producing energy resources in Turkmenistan under a production sharing agreement with the government. Therefore, tackling the differences in communication and consensus on profit statement will be challenging in this joint venture because both organisations have different goals. Nevertheless, if these challenges are overcome, then the joint venture with Gazyk will prove to be beneficial for BP.

Priorities assessment when dealing with different level of complexities

Assessment of priorities can be a challenging task for BP and hence, the company must understand the impact of each priority and then quantify them according to their importance (Simplicio et al., 2017). Following are some of the urgent, important and less important priorities for BP in initiating and then continuing its mega-project in Turkmenistan:

No. Urgent tasks Important tasks Less important tasks Complexity level
1. Hiring pertinent workforce Finalizing joint-venture agreement Outsourcing smaller parts of projects Low complexity
2. Ensuring financial profitability Minimizing risks Developing cordial relations with the community High complexity
3. Ensuring un-inhibited production of oil Ensuring availability of technical equipment Marketing of available jobs at the project High complexity
4. Making production sharing agreement with the government of Turkmenistan. Low complexity

Table 2: Priorities assessment of this mega project

Supply Chain Management (Strategic Procurement and Strategic Purchasing)

Sketch the Supply Chain Diagram for this Mega Project

Supply chain management is complex in this mega project because of the difficulty in extraction of oil resources. The supply chain in this mega project starts from negotiating production sharing agreement (PSA) and ends at distribution of finished petroleum products. The details of this supply chain are explained in figure-3.

Transported to industries

Transported to retail market

Figure 3: Supply chain diagram of BP’s mega project of oil exploration in Turkmenistan

Identify whom are the potential upstream, mid-stream and downstream stakeholders and partners

In the mega-project, BP will have potential upstream, midstream and downstream stakeholders as follows in table-2:

No. Potential Upstream stakeholders Potential mid-stream stakeholders Potential downstream stakeholders Partners
1 Consumers of petroleum products Local community Employees of BP Turkmenneft
2 Turkmenistan government as it shares from oil proceeds Ministry of oil and mineral resources of Turkmenistan Geographical analysts that select land for oil exploration Gazyk Oil and Gas
3 Industries which buy the petroleum products Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Company hired for hiring technical workforce from Turkmenistan

Table 3: Potential upstream, mid-stream, downstream stakeholders and partners

Routine, leverage, bottle-neck and strategic service providers

The mega-project under discussion involves dealing with complex and multiple service providers. Depending upon how much profit and risk are associated with a service provider, they are classified into routine, leverage, bottle-neck, and strategic types, as shown in figure-5 (Putri et al., 2020).

The Kraljic Portfolio Purchasing Model - from MindTools.com

Strategic service providers

Leverage service providers

Bottleneck service providers

Routine service providers

Figure 4: Types of service providers in BP’s mega project, as illustrated by Putri et. al (2020)

Type of Service Provider Supply Risk Profit Impact Examples
Routine Low Low General use automobiles, petroleum industry-related magazines
Leverage Low High Health providers, food providers and essential construction providers
Bottleneck High Low Oil storage and transportation tanks
Strategic High High Information technology providers to monitor performance and safety of the project (Landau, 2018).

Table 4: Type of service providers, their supply risk and profit impact

Governance

Transparency and accountability

Both private and public stakeholders are involved in this mega project, which complicates the process of accountability and transparency. The first step towards ensuring accountability is the delineation of the roles and responsibilities of each employee (Project Management Institute, 2017). Therefore, BP should highlight the responsibilities of each of its public and private partnerships and also of its petroleum engineers, chemical engineers, managers and other employees. Afterwards, if a problem occurs, the concerned party should be identified and duly penalised to ensure the project remains free of difficulties in future.

To ensure transparency, weekly reports by each section and stakeholder should be written (Betta and Boronina, 2018). Afterwards, the reports should be submitted to the Chief Executive of BP, who then should share them among all stakeholders so that they know where each part stands in the project. This, in future, would lead to accurate planning and working, thereby allowing BP to complete the project within the stipulated time.

Lack of control mechanism

Absence of control mechanisms in the mega-project of BP can lead to failure of the company to evaluate its progress and consequently be unsuccessful in taking required corrective actions (Chibueze et al., 2018). Furthermore, BP will not be able to assess the performance of its partner, Gazyk in the absence of control mechanisms. Moreover, control mechanisms are necessary to evaluate the amount of oil produced every day or every week, which then allows comparison with set targets.

Two types of control mechanisms can be used by BP to ensure the quality of this mega-project, namely chemical control mechanism and production control mechanism. Chemical control mechanism would focus on the chemical composition of stored material through processes like mass spectrometry (Jones, 2015), while the production control mechanism would ensure that the production targets are being met.

Effective control and monitoring systems

Monitoring of this mega-project is essential to ensure timely completion and minimum cost over-run (Wanjala et al., 2017). Different types of monitoring systems can be established by BP to ensure the proper working of its mega project. For instance, BP should arrange monthly meetings with all its stakeholders and discuss suggestions to overcome problems that may arise in this mega-project. Additionally, documentation of every activity should be ensured to collect data regarding all activities like the hiring of technical workforce, buying of drilling equipment and storing of produced oil. The data should then be analyzed to determine the performance of each segment of the mega-project. Another method to monitor this mega-project is to do a performance evaluation of the employees at different intervals to analyze their productivity levels. The process of monitoring is illustrated in figure-5.

Figure 5: Process of monitoring in this mega project, as highlighted by Project Management Institute (2017)

Cost/Time Control Practices

Cost and time efficient mechanisms- digital techniques and social responsibility

BP can apply digital data management techniques to save time and cost in exploring and producing oil resources (Pronk, 2019). Moreover, the company can use a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) to manage the working of oil drilling equipment jointly and ensure proper storage of oil in tanks. PLC control systems can also be used for safe and stable transmission of oil through pipelines, thus saving costs and increasing efficiency (Hudedmani et al., 2017). Furthermore, by using budget-making software SCORO, BP will not only save time but also reduce cost.

Cost and time efficiency can also be increased by propagating social responsibility. By ensuring corporate social responsibility (CSR), BP will be able to become socially acceptable (Tilt, 2016). CSR of BP should be based on four principles, namely, environmental protection, philanthropy, diversity in labour and volunteerism. Environmental protection should be ensured through minimising land degradation, philanthropy through running food campaigns for poor, employee diversity through hiring locals and volunteerism by helping local organisations in applying technology. This will save time and cost because it will save BP from getting entangled in various legal problems. Moreover, members from the local community will be eager to become part of BP’s mega project when it follows its CSR (Tilt, 2016).

Capital Control and Capital Efficiency opportunities in this Mega Project

Turkmenistan has stringent capital control policies, for example, it does not allow a foreign company operate solely and hence, requires businesses to enter into a contract with the governmental organization (Holzhacker and Skakova, 2019). Another measure of capital control to be considered by BP is the heavy taxes that foreign organizations have to pay. Furthermore, the government of Turkmenistan now requires that foreign organizations like BP sell all their proceeds to the country’s sovereign Fund (Reuters, 2020). Moreover, BP needs to keep in mind is control of Turkmenistan’s government on foreign currencies as transactions can only be made in either USD or Turkmenistan Manat (Holzhacker and Skakova, 2019). Therefore, BP will need to convert British pounds to either of these currencies.

On the other hand, capital-efficiency opportunities for BP exist in several domains. Firstly, BP should carefully select its contractors through open bidding to attract the highest number of competitors. Then, the contractor with the highest capability, but the lowest quote price should be selected to improve capital efficiency (Hong et al., 2015). Another method by which BP could enhance its capital efficiency is hiring human resources through a thorough process of written exam and interview. The written exam should evaluate the knowledge of personnel about the petroleum industry while the interview should analyze past experience and person’s character, discipline and future plans. In this way, BP will be able to recruit efficient and productive employees (Hong et al., 2015).

Recommendation to improve and enhance management of mega project

Following are some of the recommendations by which BP can enhance its management of exploring and producing oil resources in Turkmenistan:

  1. BP should undertake uncertainty management to improve the working of its mega project. As the project involves multiple smaller projects, cost over-run, excessive time or other complexities like breakage of drill equipment could occur. In order to manage such uncertainties, BP should highlight all likely uncertainties that could occur and should prepare a contingency plan, as illustrated by Oputa (2017). For example, if drilling equipment breaks, then substitute equipment should be available.
  2. Another recommendation to enhance management of this mega project is to reinforce cohesion and collaboration. BP should not only promote cooperation among its employees but also between external stakeholders. BP should ensure weekly meetings with its employees and monthly meetings with representatives from Gazyk, Turkmenistan government, suppliers and contractors. Moreover, a collaboration tool named Slack should be used by BP to follow everything related to a singular topic or team. Furthermore, Turkmenneft and Gazyk will also have access to Slack and would be able to monitor each other’s progress in real-time (Hoover, 2019).
  3. It is also recommended that BP should incentivise its employees to work more proficiently through monetary rewards and promotion (Barutha, 2018). Moreover, employees at BP should be categorised into high and low performers, and incentives should be given accordingly. For example, high performers should be incentivised through unlimited paid leaves and quick promotion, while low performers should be rewarded through training and learning courses. This would make the organisation more profitable because employees would work with more dedication.
  4. Lastly, it is recommended that the project leader should be selected through a rigorous and careful process. The leader should have thorough experience in managing petroleum exploration and production. Moreover, the leadership should be democratic to allow the voice of all employees to reach higher levels of management (Kilicoglu, 2018). To follow the principles of democratic leadership, communication barriers must be minimized, and the team should be allowed to participate. The team that performs drilling must have an equal say in the entire mega project as compared to the team that is responsible for the selection of land. Moreover, managers should lay out the whole plan after consultation with the technical team.

Conclusion

The liberalisation of Turkmenistan economy, coupled with the vast resources of energy, has encouraged foreign investment in the country. Hence, to best utilise these opportunities, BP should invest in oil exploration and production in Turkmenistan. Following other countries like China and Russia, BP should enter into a PSA with the Turkmenistan government. In this paper, this mega project is critically analysed, and major project management principles are applied. First of all, complexities in this mega project are analysed through Garett’s model and different complicated procedures would include finding technical labour, managing team composition and handling excessive money. Afterwards, gap analysis is performed to ensure all elements of this mega project are completed timely. Moreover, stakeholders’ analysis and priorities assessment is performed to develop communication and reward mechanism. Then, supply chain management is conducted to identify each activity and associate importance with it, accordingly. Additionally, governance principles like transparency and accountability are necessary to achieve this mega project in its entirety. Furthermore, cost and time-efficient mechanisms need to be applied to prevent cost over-run. Some recommendations to enhance management of this mega project include undertaking uncertainty management, promoting collaboration, incentivising employees and utilising efficient leadership practices.

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