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Abaunza, G. & Kirytopoulos, K. 2015, ‘Lessons learnt from delivering oil and gas projects in Australia: An empirical research', in K.W. Chau & C. Wu (eds), Proceedings of the 20th International Symposium on Advancement of Construction Management and Real Estate (CRIOCM), Hangzhou, China, Oct 23-25, 851-862.

Abstract:

Australian oil and gas resource industry requires competent project managers to deliver complex projects in adverse climate and remote locations. In the industry, the term “lessons learned” is frequently used when specific knowledge is recorded and distributed in order to provide indirect experience and awareness to other project team members facing similar issues. However, due to the nature of the industry and the extreme competition, lessons learnt are treated as secrets of trade that will generate competitive advantage. As a result, the publicly available information is scarce and scholars do not have a sound basis of literature to build upon.
Aim of this research is the investigation of current issues in oil and gas industry through capitalising on experience coming from practitioners. The approach followed is of qualitative and inductive nature while the underpinning philosophy leans against interpretivism. The research tool comprises a structured questionnaire that was built around the project management knowledge areas as these are described in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). Nine Australian oil and gas project managers with experience ranging from 10 to 20 years, were interviewed, and their personal experiences were investigated through cluster analysis. Relevant ideas among interviewees were grouped together forming captured lessons learnt that are presented under four overarching themes, namely a) Integration and Quality, b) Human Resources, Communications and Stakeholders, c) Risk and d) Procurement, Scope, Time and Cost.
The main lessons learnt that were revealed through this research are as follows. In regards to integration and quality management, it seems that the oil and gas industry, unlike other industries, shows a clear preference to safety and quality compared to time and cost while implementing projects. Lessons learnt, as part of the integration area are highly valued, although capturing them is challenging. Considering human resources, the main challenge that led to significant issues in the past is the lack of and retention of qualified staff at all levels. It is not uncommon for staff to get experience in Australia and then set for more rewarding markets like the Middle East and North America. The risk knowledge area in the industry is mainly focusing on safety. Another crucial lesson learnt is the inefficiency associated with handovers and learning hours for new personnel coming up to speed on projects that are half-way through execution. Procurement is also a major issue in the industry. The Australian oil and gas companies follow stringent quality assurance requirements, which should be clearly spelled out in the contracting arrangements when using an overseas company. Communication has also been reported as a barrier between Australia and countries in Asia because of language and time difference. Careful consideration of logistics and lead times involved with the shipment of products from Asia to the remote Australian oil and gas sites is the main concern for time management.
In conclusion, this empirical research presents a particular insight to the Australian oil and gas industry and envisages to extend the limited repository of scholar publications to lessons learnt from this particular industry.

Keywords – Project Management, Oil & Gas, Lessons Learnt