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Our Background

Paul ParsonsRecognizing a Need
Our company was founded in 2007 by Paul Parsons. Paul had spent 24 years working for Occidental Petroleum in senior finance, accounting, and acquisition/divestiture roles. His last role was the divisional CFO for Occidental’s largest division, based in the Permian Basin of West Texas.

As divisional CFO, one of Paul’s responsibilities was the professional development of all of the division’s finance and accounting employees. He is a strong believer that both a company and its employees benefit when workers have a substantial scope of knowledge going beyond their immediate job responsibilities, including knowledge outside their discipline. Accordingly, he organized in-house learning programs across a variety of subjects and also searched the outside market for good training resources that could be used. Paul discovered that there was a shortage of good training resources and many of the courses and materials that were available were lackluster and outdated.

At the same time, Paul was leading a project to document the division’s workflows as part of the process of complying with the new Sarbanes-Oxley legislation affecting all public companies. That project gave him a unique, organization-wide view across functional and operational boundaries. Paul felt that the broad knowledge he gained from that process was highly useful for his own job and he thought others would benefit as well if multi-functional information and commercial terms were taught in a convenient overview format.

There is a need for broader learning because employees involved in workflows may be great task-masters, but they often lack a good understanding of the inputs they receive and/or the ultimate use of the outputs that they generate. This deficiency could occur in almost any role, such as a procurement agent with weak knowledge of equipment uses, a recruiter with a vague understanding of job functions, an auditor that has to be educated by the auditee, a landman that can’t explain exploration and production operations to a landowner, an accountant that doesn’t understand how leasing and joint operations affects results, a supply/service marketer that doesn’t understand their customers’ business, lenders and investors that are unclear on revenue and cost drivers, etc. On-the-job learning alone typically doesn’t go far enough or build fast enough and most employees would embrace an opportunity to learn more.

It’s a much-told story that the oil and gas industry did little hiring from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s, which left about a 20-year gap in the industry workforce. It’s projected that about half of the workforce will retire over the next decade, requiring the recruitment of a great number of new employees. Paul felt that there was a need and an opportunity to educate these new employees so that they can gain the wherewithal that will help them become effective team players rather than just task masters. Thus, Energy Training Resources was born.

Getting Started
Creating a comprehensive and engaging course spanning the oil and gas industry is a huge undertaking. It requires a combination of research, collaboration, creating new materials, licensing existing materials, and getting permissions to use a wide variety of photos, graphics, animations, video footage and other resources have been created by oil and gas companies and industry contractors and suppliers. Our first course was in development for 2 years before the first presentation was made and it covered the full range of the industry, from upstream through downstream, in 3 days. One of the reasons that development took so long is that we couldn’t find any good, modern video footage on drilling, so we had to create our own. That evolved into a project whereby we created a stand-alone 2-hour video covering the full drilling and completion of a horizontal well, including downhole animations. It is still the most-comprehensive drilling video available and is now being used by more than 500 companies and institutions. We use some of all of the video in our courses.

Our first course received great feedback! We subsequently created shorter spin-offs including a 1-day course focused on upstream and a 2-day course focused on upstream and midstream. The 1-day course proved to be particularly popular with our oil and gas company clients and we have conducted that course at numerous company locations in the US and internationally. We also have conducted that and other courses in-house for entities such as contractors/suppliers, regulatory agencies, lenders and accounting firms.

We initially thought our attendees would mostly be new employees. However, we have been pleasantly surprised that experienced employees commonly make up about half of our audiences. We get some of our best feedback from them because they are thankful to fill in their knowledge gaps. They also ask good questions and contribute good comments during courses.

Where We Are Today

Our courses today are almost unrecognizable from their initial versions. We are constantly creating and sourcing new materials (we have in-house animation, graphic and media capabilities), adjusting to industry evolution, and are finding better ways to present subject matter. We believe that we had the best overview courses available when we first went live, and feel that the gap has grown substantially over time. Course quality makes a huge difference because a well-organized, well-paced course that is rich with visuals can cover more material and impart a better understanding. We also engage the audience using physical samples, live demos, and question-and-answer sessions with electronic response cards.

An advantage that we offer when doing presentations at company locations is that we can adjust the content to best fit the audience. For example, when presenting at the headquarters of a US company, it may be useful to address domestic and international topics and onshore and offshore topics. When presenting at one of their US field locations, we can drop international and offshore and include more material relevant to US onshore. If presenting at an international location, we can drop US mineral rights and leasing and instead cover the form of contract that is used locally. If presenting to a functional group, such as accountants, attorneys, supply/service marketers, or lenders, we can put more focus on issues that relate to their duties. Moreover, we weave client-company information into the presentations to highlight links between the materials and company operations.

We are also creating state-of-the art eLearning courses that include and expand upon the topics that we teach in our live courses. New courses will be continuously added over time.

We encourage you to check us out. We offer occasional courses at our own facility that are open to the public and also conduct courses for the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at forums such as NAPE and the OTC that are also open to the public (see the “Events” tab at IPAA.org). If you are considering an in-house course, we’d be pleased to meet with you to show you what we do!