No stranger to rollercoaster economic cycles, the oil & gas industry has had to weather a particularly tough few years. Now facing the challenge of transforming their operations to address changing environmental, social and governance targets, producers are increasingly looking to expert partners like Kemira to help them do more with less.
Sirkku’s transition from R&D to sales has given her the opportunity to apply her vast knowledge of Kemira’s chemical product portfolio in her discussions with customer contacts. “My background as a scientist first and foremost and then as an R&D team leader means I have a very good overview of the whole product-development process, from lab-scale research up to full-scale production,” she explains. “I’m now working with customers to help them effectively apply products in the field that I have witnessed the birth of in the lab, which is very exciting and rewarding.”
Sales manager is just a title; in reality I see myself as a problem solver or solutions provider.
With her entire career at Kemira spent working in the oil & gas division, Sirkku is well placed to act as an expert interpreter of customer needs. Her collaborative approach helps to identify exactly the right chemistries – in this case polymers for Chemically Enhanced Oil Recovery (cEOR) – for their specific applications. “I get to apply the fundamentals I learned when studying to real-world challenges. Sales manager is just a title; in reality I see myself as a problem solver or solutions provider for customers,” she says.
No language barrier
Her rich technical background gives Sirkku a head start in her sales role because, simply put, she speaks the customer’s language. An ability to easily grasp the challenges her customers are wrestling with and draw on her encyclopedic knowledge of chemistry and Kemira’s chemical products when proposing a solution is a big advantage. “Our oil & gas customers face challenges in their daily operations that our technical customer services and R&D teams can support them with. These are important concerns and we’re always ready to help. But today the biggest challenges are related to sustainability and the need to transform whole value chains to make them less intensive in terms of energy and water consumption,” Sirkku highlights.
It’s a bit of a cliché these days, but collaboration really is the key.
To do this, Kemira’s approach is a holistic one, focusing on the whole rather than individual pain points: “When analyzing how our chemistries can impact efficiency for a customer, we take the entire process into consideration rather than making quick fixes for one area only to find that the fix causes problems up or downstream. It’s a bit of a cliché these days, but collaboration really is the key; one of our values is ‘We succeed together’, and when working with oil & gas customers who are under tremendous pressure to transform their sustainability performance this is exactly what we aim for.”
Sirkku is also keen to emphasize that steering a global industry towards a more sustainable path is about everybody doing their part: “As an organization we have set ourselves a climate target to cut our Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, and our ambition is to be carbon neutral by 2045. It’s very much a team effort; we want to help our customers achieve their goals while working hard to hit our own targets.”
Building long-term partnerships
Working in sales has opened Sirkku’s eyes to the huge level of appreciation that oil & gas customers have for Kemira’s R&D and innovation capabilities. Her understanding of the different steps of the R&D process within Kemira is a powerful tool that helps her identify how best to support customers at each stage of their own development process. “When we understand where our customers are, we are in a far better position to ensure that the solutions we propose are focusing on the right areas. My philosophy is that giving the customer an answer – a solution in the form of a chemical product – is just the starting point of what we can offer. We want to be a long-term partner, not a mere chemical supplier.”
Our expertise can have a huge impact, helping producers to reduce water cut and overall emissions from production.
Kemira’s application understanding and experience in water-soluble chemistries are indispensable when serving cEOR customers. “Chemical EOR is an essential element in improving efficiency. There are oilfields where more than 90% of the fluid that comes out of the ground is water, meaning that the unit energy consumed per barrel of oil is very high. This is an area where our expertise can have a huge impact, helping producers to reduce water cut and overall emissions from production,” Sirkku explains.
Kemira’s polymers not only help to maximize the amount of oil that can be produced, but they also make it possible to reuse the produced water by recycling it back into the process. However, treating the produced water requires expertise of its own. Here Kemira’s holistic view of the process really comes into play. “We have a comprehensive understanding of how the polymer may change during its travel through the reservoir and the effect it can have on the top side operations. With these in mind from the get-go, we’re able to select the best polymer for each reservoir and support in the produced water treatment process accordingly.”
Oil and gas aren’t going anywhere just yet
There is no escaping the fact that the global demand for energy will continue to increase. The question is how to meet this growing demand in the most sustainable way possible. “The big players are all investing in new technologies and energy sources, and setting increasingly ambitious sustainability targets, but the transition away from fossil-based energy will take time. With our chemistries and application expertise, we can work closely with operators to build a detailed picture of their processes and challenges, then help them to nudge their operations in a more sustainable direction.”