Active management improvements at oil refinery bring pre-TA project back on track (Case Study)


T.A. Cook was engaged to carry out a comprehensive assessment of field operations for an international Oil and Gas Company at one of its European affiliates. Working on upstream off-shore operations (oil and gas drilling & production), the objective was to identify and measure improvement opportunities against the best practice performance levels for all key aspects of Operations.


The brief was to determine the “As-Is” situation, in line with a core process standardization project that was already running. In doing so, localized deviations against corporate standardized processes would be identified and evaluated in terms of significance, impact and potential improvement opportunity. The intention was twofold: firstly, to define the opportunity gap and secondly, to propose a program to tackle the major variances.

The areas under consideration were widespread, ranging from technical and operations processes within Health, Safety and Environment  (such as management, reporting & control of risk situations and work permit processes), to all management systems in use onshore and offshore, covering production control & reporting, communications and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Transverse processes were also included in the analysis, such as modification requests and construction control, central planning, drilling operations, multipart logistics and well performance. 

Working together with the client, T.A. Cook designed and coordinated the project definition and local approach. Furthermore, a management assessment was designed to gain an understanding of the perception of management and supervision regarding proactive management, change management, communication and motivation of teams, both onshore and offshore.


The analysis revealed significant gaps in several areas.  An evaluation of organization maturity showed that a wealth of control systems and processes were in place, but coordination, integration and full utilization were absent.

The assessment showed that the management team was committed to improving company results, but that the communication process and management support systems failed to deliver transparency and overall performance guidance: the reverse of the desired effect. At all levels, good practices were in place, but:

Significant bottom-line improvement potential was evident, particularly within maintenance performance and associated cost manage-ment;

  • Central Planning was not integrating all activities;
  • Production shortfall analysis lacked coordination between stakeholders; and
  • Requests for modification were poorly managed, leading to frequent changes of priorities and unnecessary expenditure.

At the onshore and offshore management systems level:

  • Operational meetings were numerous and reactive;
  • Performance review meetings were un coordinated with inadequate KPI review;
  • Meeting management was poor and over-impacted on managers’ time and effectiveness; and
  • Integrated and updated actions plans were not consistently in use.

At the behavioral level, heads of departments, managers and supervisors spoke openly about ongoing changes, but:

  • Their attitudes towards implementing and managing change was mixed; and
  • Their perceptions of managing and motivating their teams revealed a significant risk of derailment.

T.A. Cook subsequently designed and developed a nine-month implementation program focusing on: field operational excellence and best practice; management of change and the integration of initiatives and systems in place; staff buy-in; and motivation.

Benefits and Conclusion

The analysis unveiled both where the major gaps within the field management operations process were and the extent to which management was able to successfully apply those processes. Reviewing that information provided the means of addressing those gaps and bringing the organization up to the expected standard, while also improving efficiency and performance.

The management team´s perception of their role within the organization provided a clear reference point for developing interdepartmental relationships and the communication process, and redefining areas of responsibility. T.A. Cook provided both an implementation framework to develop the management capabilities and processes, and systems to integrate and improve the field operations management through an externallyled and internally-driven change program.

The proposed enhancements to the Management Operating System improved management and control over operations leading to a reduction in the production shortfalls.

Further benefits included the reinforcement of a common language and an enriched understanding of processes and systems in terms of expectation and utilization. Improved communication throughout the group facilitated and sped up the management learning curve and improved performance achievement.