Jan 14, 2021

Technical library

Every skills needed in Project Management in the Oil & Gas industry

Projects in the Oil & Gas sector are complex because the final product can be placed in extreme conditions like at sea, in Arctic conditions or in the desert. The fabrication site is often far from the final operation location (oil & gas extraction location). Indeed, the platform can be fabricated in Malaysia but operated for extraction in the Arctic area. 

A Project Manager in Oil & Gas needs to take into account several aspects specific to the project on top of technical and human dimensions. Here are the main expertise a PM will need to master in order to properly manage a project of the size and level of difficulty we encounter in Oil & Gas.

Engineering skills and expertise


Technical skills are the base for the Project Manager to make good decisions. The different technologies have to be known as for example the differences between on shore tanks (left picture) or Gravity Based Structures (GBS) in the sea (right picture).

GBS is a floating tank that can be moved by towing in the sea to the extraction location. On top of the GBS are all the equipment for the oil and gas treatment and on the side of the GBS is an area for the ships to collect the oil or gas. 


The Project Manager requires skills about concrete, reinforced concrete, steel and other materials than can be used on site. He requires Engineering skills about the mechanical behaviour of the materials as:

  • material resistance under some mechanical stresses or constraints (the behaviour of a concrete beam under a load application is different from the behaviour of a steel beam under the same load for example) 
  • material resistance under fire conditions (concrete is more resistant to fire than steel for example)
  • material behaviour under extreme negative temperatures (there is a special concrete to use for these conditions)
  • cracking concrete behaviour for the large structure (for example to avoid these cracks, the post-tensioning technology is used. It is an on-site operation that involves putting the cables into tension after pouring concrete through anchors as shown in next picture).


Knowledge in chemicals is required to understand the process of extraction of the oil or the gas. The Project Manager has to understand the different states of the oil and gas under different pressure and temperature conditions. This knowledge about chemicals will allow the Project Manager to choose the more adapted machines according to the requirement of the process, as cryogenic liquefaction machines or mercury removal machines for example.

Each step of the process is realized by dedicated equipment or machines.

Piping class

Knowing the piping class characteristics and the difference between carbon steel and stainless steel is very important in Oil & Gas projects. Different piping classes are used if the acidity of the oil or gas is different. In Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) projects, the gas is liquified with a cryogenic process and the piping class is different for each gas state.

Project Management skills

On top of technical skills, the PM needs to master the regular skills of project management on planning, scheduling, human resources…


The Project Manager shall consider several parameters to create a realistic planning. This planning is based on a practical time schedule and an optimized budget. The planning is considering the parameters below:

  • The chosen technology. If it is a GBS (Gravity Based Structure) for example, the planning shall consider a towing phase that can occur only in the Summer if the plant in is the Arctic for example. In this case, after October the towing will not be possible because of the ice and the project will automatically be delayed one year.
  • The mobilization of the teams. The PM shall identify all the skills required during the project and assign a duration for each task to mobilize people as per a clear mobilization plan.
  • The execution of the project. The fabrication of the station will consist of a thousand tasks. The excavation, the procurement, the rebars installation, the inspections for quality, the pouring of concrete, the welding of kilometers of piping, the pressure tests of the piping systems shall be scheduled to avoid clash on site and to optimize the activities on site. The sequence of all the activities shall be correct and considering the characteristics of each task.


Human Management 

Usually oil & gas projects can gather thousands of people in the offices and on site. Engineers, supervisors and workers are often expatriated. All these people need accommodation, food, water, etc.

The Project Manager will in a first step identify the different expertise required considering the technology chosen and activities needed to achieve the project (welders, carpenters, engineers, supervisors, etc). Then the number of people for each skill is defined. The human resources department has to hire all these people and manage their mobilization (contracts, flight tickets, accommodation, salary, etc).

On site, in order to reduce the time and cost of the execution, workers are housed near the site. A camp for the workers is usually placed with all amenities (bedrooms, bathrooms, canteen, gym equipment, etc) nearby. The camp reduces the time for the workers to reach the site every morning. In Oil & Gas, the sites are often very far from cities.


Change Management

In the Oil & Gas industry, the client might require changes to be made during the project lifecycle. Change management is the key to control the cost of the project.

The Project Manager shall put in place a process to analyze the changes required by the client or other stakeholders and estimate the time and cost impact and inform the client. On the right an example of the Change request form.

Risk Management 

Usually, the Quality management of the project is based on Quality control with daily Inspections and Audits. The project manager shall be leader in HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) and make sure that each task managed shall comply with HSE rules.

The Risk management is very critical in Oil & Gas projects because the sites are in extreme conditions in Siberia for example and the workers cannot work more than 6 hours on site per day. There is also an important risk of blast during execution and testing and commissioning. Blast walls and gas sensors are solutions to reduce the risks. The table below is used to classify the risks by severity and occurrence probability.

Progress Management

The progress shall be analyzed regularly to identify an issue and to solve it. A log with all the tasks and their status is used to identify issues in the project. With the RAG (Red-Amber-Green) status the Project Manager can easily identify the issues in the progress of the project.

Once an issue is identified, the 4Rs method is applied to solve it. 4Rs meaning:

  • React: raise the issue to the management
  • Read: analyze the issue
  • Respond: find a solution
  • Resolve: apply the solution

Green Management

The Green Management is a philosophy putting the environmentat the heart of the project. From the design and the planning to the execution, all the project shall be ruled by environment respect. Some questions shall be answered as:

How to reduce the impact of the project on the environment?

This question is very important in this criticized sector.

During the design, the final solution will be respecting the environment and HSE will approve the design. If the solution is not reaching environmental criteria, the HSE will reject the design. For example, in the old generation of the gas extraction station there were a continuous flare. These flares were used to reduce the pressure in the piping and tanks systems. Nowadays, the flare is used only as safety pressure release, burning only in case of over pressure in the piping system. This design development is an example of the Green Management applied to the Oil & Gas sector. This design solution is allowing to reduce the release of C02 and other particles in the air.

During the execution, there is a strong waste management during the fabrication. All the waste will be recycled at maximum possible. For the energy management the site, the workers camps and the extraction station are using solar panels or wind power. Regarding the water management, all the water generated by the project is treated before being released in the sea. Indeed, all the new projects are managing the water mixed with some dangerous materials or chemicals by treating the water and releasing the water in the sea only after removal of the dangerous material.

The project Management is thinking Product Lifecycle. The final product is recyclable. The concrete, the rebars and the metallic items (as piping) are all recyclable.

During operation of the final product a control solution of the leaks is running continuously with sensors, alarms and BMS (for Building Management System). The leaks shall be detectable and managed quickly to avoid any pollution of the environment during operation.


Oil & gas projects need standard expertise in project management (planning, budget, human resources, risk management…) on top of technical knowledge of materials and environmental constraints and finally take into account the international dimension of the project.

Technical skills help to find solutions but the human management is the most critical as the projects are often multinational. For example the engineering can be done in Paris, the suppliers are in Malaysia, the fabrication site is in Finland and the final location for operation in Siberia.

Information is the heart of the Oil & Gas projects. And a very good communication is the key to the project success.

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