The energy industry is faced with a number of issues that seem to continue from year to year. One of those issues is the costs associated with any and all field work. We have heard a variety of claims made by the oil and gas companies about the service industry, but no solutions as to how to deal with them outside of the traditional cost controls and budgeting. We will now discuss how the Knowledge & Learning module of the Preliminary Specification provides a solution for the high costs associated with field operations. Quotations are from Professor Richard Langlois “Capabilities and Governance: the Rebirth of Production in the Theory of Economic Organization.”
We have with the Knowledge & Learning module a number of other tools that are part of the Preliminary Specification. Specifically the Military Command & Control Metaphor (MCCM) that enables a Joint Operating Committee to impose a chain of command over a multi-organizational group of people during the course of one of these field operations. These operations of course will include members of the Joint Operating Committees participating producers as well as the employees and contractors of the service industry representatives. Having them configured in a manner in which the chain of command is recognizable immediately. Secondly there is in the Preliminary Specification the Job Order system that provides a means in which to execute the operational order within the chain of command during the field operation. These two systems provide a tight control over the entire operation. Simply no action is taken without the authorized Job Order being issued.
This tight operational control seems to contradict the free markets that we have been pursuing in the service industry. I disagree. Having tight operational control has nothing to do with free markets, and free markets have nothing to do with tight operational control. They are two separate and distinct “things” that do not affect one another. Recall that the AFE and Job Order are provided through the “Planning & Control Interface” which bring in the capabilities from the “Dynamic Capabilities Interface” that the Joint Operating Committee has decided to implement. These capabilities include the information necessary for the people to conduct the work for the operation to be a success.
[I]t seems to me that we cannot hope to construct an adequate theory of industrial organization and in particular to answer our question about the division of labour between firm and market, unless the elements of organization, knowledge, experience and skills are brought back to the foreground of our vision (Richardson 1972, p. 888).
What we are implying with this level of operational control is that the Joint Operating Committee representatives, the earth scientists and engineers are in complete and total control of the field operation down to the water hauling driver. In a literal sense, yes, but I think you know the extent of the control that is implied with the MCCM and Job Order system. There is a command structure. Everything is documented. This level of coordination is provided as a means to offset the detail necessary for the science basis of the business to take precedence.
As we will argue in more detail below, there are in fact two principal theoretical avenues closed off by a conception of organization as the solution to a problem of incentive alignment. And both have to do with the question of production knowledge. One is the possibility that knowledge about how to produce is imperfect - or, as we would prefer to say, dispersed, bounded, sticky and idiosyncratic. The second is the possibility that knowledge about how to link together one person's (or organization's) productive knowledge with that of another is also imperfect. The first possibility leads us to the issue of capabilities or competencies; the second leads to the issue of qualitative coordination." p. 11
What Professor Langlois is implying here is that the converse of “incentive alignment” is “qualitative coordination." The high costs associated with the service industry to do their job is in order to motivate the people and the capital to work in the industry. If we were able to better coordinate, in the manner that the Knowledge & Learning module suggests, the issues of costs and quality would be mitigated.
A close reading of this passage suggests that Coase's explanation for the emergence of the firm is ultimately a coordination one: the firm is an institution that lowers the costs of qualitative coordination in a world of uncertainty. p. 11
By using the Joint Operating Committee we are eliminating the use of the bureaucracy. However as the previous quote implies the bureaucracy (or firm) lowered the cost of qualitative coordination in a world of uncertainty, albeit poorly in our case, it is therefore necessary that we replicate that coordination in the Joint Operating Committee.
More generally, we are worried that conceptualizing all problems of economic organization as problems of aligning incentives not only misrepresents important phenomena but also hinders understanding other phenomena, such as the role of production costs in determining the boundaries of the firm. As we will argue, in fact, it may well pay off intellectually to pursue a research strategy that is essentially the flip-side of the coin, namely to assume that all incentive problems can be eliminated by assumption and concentrate on coordination (including communication) and production cost issues only.
By coordinating the field operations in the manner that is proposed in the Knowledge & Learning module of the Preliminary Specification we can eliminate the incentive problem and increase the control over the implementation of the science basis of the business. All with maintaining free and open markets for which the innovation in the service industry to develop.
It might seem that with the opportunity to have such strong operational control provided in the Knowledge & Learning module of the Preliminary Specification. That each and every producer will be able to compete equally. That might be the way that some perceive the situation however, the fact is in an innovative environment that may not be the case. We have clarification of these points from Professor Richard Langlois in his paper “Capabilities and Governance: the Rebirth of Production in the Theory of Economic Organization."
In a world of tacit and distributed knowledge - that is, of differential capabilities - having the same blueprints [or software] as one's competitors is unlikely to translate into having the same costs of production. Generally, in such a world, firms will not confront the same production cost for the same type of productive activity. p. 18
Producers within the same Joint Operating Committee may be pursuing different strategies than their partners in that JOC. The Preliminary Specification enables a producer to pursue the most effective strategy for each property. A producer may have acquired the property while it was in production and therefore have a different cost structure. Or alternatively the producer may have an interest in the infrastructure used to deliver the gas to market whereas the other producers do not. The makeup, the strategies and the costs of each of the producers are unique and not necessarily leading them to make the same decisions based on the same criteria. However, financial gain still drives consensus.
As we noted, when the Joint Operating Committee conducts a field operation using the tools within the Knowledge & Learning module. Coordination of the capabilities is provided through the Military Command & Control Metaphor and the Job Order system. These capabilities are the knowledge, experience, skills and ideas of the people who are part of the producers in the Joint Operating Committee, and the service industry representatives hired to conduct the field operation. All of these capabilities are documented in the “Dynamic Capabilities Interface” and deployed through the “Planning & Deployment Interface."
This in turn, implies that the capabilities may be interpreted as a distinct theory of economic organization. p. 18
Execution is the focus of the operation and the key competitive differentiation of the parties involved. Within the capabilities that have been decided to be implemented by the Joint Operating Committee there may be new and innovative tools and procedures to be implemented. The oil and gas business is based on the science of geology and geophysics and the applied science of engineering. Operational control at this level is a necessity and a competitive advantage. From Professor Langlois’ paper “Modularity in Technology, Organization and Society."
Industrial economists tend to think of competition as occurring between atomic units called "firms." Theorists of organization tend to think about the choice among various kinds of organizational structures - what Langlois and Robertson (1995) call "business institutions.” But few have thought about the choice of business institution as a competitive weapon. p. 1
If one considers how the Knowledge & Learning module enables the producer to implement their capabilities. Calling them a competitive weapon isn’t far from the truth.
The Preliminary Specification provides the oil and gas producer with the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. People, Ideas & Objects Revenue Model specifies the means in which investors can participate in these user defined software developments. Users are welcome to join me here. Together we can begin to meet the future demands for energy.