energy journey : my father’s pathway

Tulisan yang anda akan baca berikut ini adalah sebuah comment yang diberikan ayah saya, Kartono Sani, setelah beliau membaca salah satu laman yang terdapat dalam blog ini. Karena comment beliau rasanya cukup panjang dan insyAllah bermanfaat, saya fikir kenapa tidak saya post saja sekalian. 🙂


Hi, Adit, Assalamu’alaikum.
When I was kid in 1960s, my dream was someday I wanted to be an engineer, it was just becaused close friend of my dad was one of a few engineers that days. On his jeep that was infrequently owned by ordinary people he looked so superior and to have been perceived as if he knew everything and solved every problem. As I grew, things change, I saw more and perceived things differently, but those strongly planted stayed until I went to college and majoring geology, although deep in mind I prefer architecture actually.

Time went by and as I got more knowledge and experiences I gradually fell in love with the more scientific than engineering subject and very grateful that i eventually can climb career to the peak of professional ladder as advisor of petroleum geosciences, besides managerial, and of course forgot architecture, despite it’s still my favorite topic.

We don’t do what we wish but what we can and when we sincerely do what we can it may lead us to what we want as God always listen to our heard, our pray. So, whatever you dream you are what you think, keep praying and close to the Ultimate Reality, do the right things right and Allah SWT will lead you how to think and take you to your dream.

When I considered to take energy mgmt at SSBM-ITB, I wrote the following. have a nice reading!

Energy Journey

He was a peddler when teenager, true peddler and went through the Secondary and High School with his merchandises on his back. People walked to worksites, or on bikes, only a few used motorcycles. Energy used was restricted, most people did not consumed that much extracted fossil energy for their activities like today, the peddler too, instead relied on build-in natural human body system and it was truly healthier. The world still found about 30-60 billion barrels of oil per year these days, while at the same time only consumed about 6 billion. This however already doubled of those during the World War Two. Oil production around the sixties was seven barrels of oil equivalent per capita per year compared to around eleven today.

The peddler had to walk 10 to 20 km everyday to hawk his assorted cakes, drink or fruits harvested from his family land, and took him three to five hours until he could walk lightly as the stuff sold out and earned pennies. From those activities, he funded his own school, bought his needs and helped his mother while he still could play around the vast, old, Dutch mining-made-lake, where clear and cool water flowed through the family land peacefully, from where his family planted rice and assorted vegetables, raised chickens, ducks and other poultries. Joining his uncle in fishing and trapping pigeons or quails in the secondary forest surrounding the lake was among his favorites. He might consumed more food compared to most teenagers after his 70 pound slim body being dehydrated under the tropical sunny coastal town, but still under very efficient mobile system and so very cheap. At the nowadays rate, he comparably earned at least US$ 10 daily, and all his activities probably only cost him a dollar or two for two plates of simple “tegal” menu and already included free drink. What a simple life; went along with family, neighborhood and Mother Nature as well, childhood indeed peaceful.

He left the motherland where he grew and crossed the Sunda Strait on a diesel-fueled ship Srivanca to the Land of Java in late 1973. Java in common and Jakarta in particular were indeed different; the metropolitan dependency upon the fossil energy has since been increasing exponentially. After missing AGP (Academy of Mining Geology) in Bandung, which had in fact been closed for new student that year he was one day on train heading east to Yogyakarta with his dream. And it was indeed challenging moments to be away from home without the necessary support, he eventually in early 1974 simply begun his geologic study at the UPN Veteran in the student city. After almost four years struggling for the fittest relied on restricted resources and dragged his feet for dignity; in 1978 – just one year before the world energy production per capita peaked at 11.15 BOE per year in fueling the journey of the industrial civilization – he gained his Bachelor of Engineering degree rightfully proud.

The world energy production has since been declining actually, at gentle slope for 20 years until the year of 2000 before it continuously slides at the current level. At this time, findings of new oil already declined to around 40 billion per year, while consumption increased exponentially to 23 billion. As Bachelor of Engineer in geology he served as assistant lecture in structural geology and earned 10 to 15 dollars a month for mentoring hours he spent in class, with what he seemed to survive and passed through the doctoral grades for engineering degree with enthusiasm. Although it was just barely enough to survive, he very much enjoyed better pride and of course free from hunger like he was when he had to walk along the river Tjode or bartered his only clothes just to buy cheap food.

It was 1981 and he was around the campus from field work after joining exploration project for hydrocarbon potential and ran out of money when a national geo-services company looking for fresh graduates conducted interview, without thinking twice he got himself in the long line and tried his fortune. And it was a kind of weird or probably good luck as while the other participants felt that they got very difficult questions during their interview, he immediately could negotiate and agreed business deal with the company representatives following a simple introduction and conversation; with about 300 dollars in pocket he got all he needed to complete a simple “so and so” thesis and then simply start to work or go public, he wondered.

He worked for the company the following year, although it was not a decisive action for he felt that it was not on tract of what he envisioned, pragmatism and idealism were conflicting and this dictated his earlier career entrance in the energy industry. Time went by; he was on small boat leaving the capital town Sintang traversing across the Melawi basin of West Borneo and sailed upstream along the broad rivers of Kapuas and Melawi far away north just below the drainage bounding mountainous terrains to Serawak. The more upstream his boat intruded as he climbing the old continental peneaplain the more outcrops he observed, measured and sampled, but less and less civilization met. Four months day and night traversing the old strong rivers, intimated the rocks, the waterfalls, the river rapids (riams) and banks, the sand bars, the water current and fishes, the jungle and the heights, he fell in love. At night while the plain Dayak supporting him fell a slept he bowed down deeply and echoed his gratitude into the darkness of the jungle that Praise Be to The Most Gracious and The All Merciful.

Less and less logistic left on boat while more samples collected for microscopic thin sections and lab work and in camp; field note by field note translated, interpreted and incorporated into various maps to illustrate 3D configurations of the geology, the basin history and potential. Although the expedition concluded that no evidence of the presence of adequate heat flows to cook the hydrocarbon source rocks identified in the interior fractured sagging basin of the Sunda Craton and charging for the latter defined trapping system was questionable – and so no drillable prospects were recommended – it was the first time he begun to love the profession as geologist. From Melawi without much formality, his geologic journey had since been extended to Barito basin in South Kalimantan and Berau basin to the northeast, West Timor in the eastern region and the many geologic basins in Java. Under Mobil Alternative Energy and then Amoseas Indonesia, his journey went through the Lengguru fold thrust belt in Irian Jaya, the Misool Islands fold thrust belt north of Ceram, The Ambon Bay intrusion structural complex terrain, the thin-skinned thrust belt of Timor, the Makassar Strait Lariang basin of Celebes.

Enamored of the long geologic journey and enjoyed in deep engagements with the many world class geologic experts involved in the races for new oil reserves of multinationals in Indonesia, had unconsciously re-generated his idealism technically and visionary. At that times, following the world energy production declining in the era of eighties to nineties, biggest multi-nationals such as Mobil and Chevron-Texaco, Shell, BP or Conoco were very aggressive in exploring for new reserves worldwide. Although Chevron-Texaco still produced 800,000 BOPD from the Rokan block in Central Sumatra basin, they established Amoseas Indonesia and invested a lot of resources just to explore the eastern region. So did the other Top Five, all maintained more balanced portfolio in the country while they drained their old discovered fields until eventually in 1996 Amoseas was dropped, most multi-nationals held their horses for exploration and seemed to agree that no more new reserves can be discovered. And what behind the scene has since been bothering his mind.

The world energy production slide further and entered new scary stage. From Amoseas, he was subsequently transferred to the sister company, Caltex Pacific Indonesia and worked for the New Ventures & Business Development as Senior Staff and then Advisor Petroleum Geologist. From the new position, he could simply look the actions of the oil companies in the last decade to provide the best gauge of how they see the future. Crude oil prices have been doubled since 2001, but oil companies have only increased their budgets for exploring new oil fields by only small fraction. The biggest oil producer Chevron Pacific Indonesia only spent pennies for exploration in Indonesia. Likewise, U.S refineries are working close to capacity, yet no new refinery has been constructed since 1976. And oil tankers are fully booked, but outdated ships are being decommissioned faster than new ones are being built. The real reason no new refineries have been built for almost 30 years is simple: any oil company that wants to stay profitable isn’t going to invest in new refineries when they know there is going to be less and less oil to refine.

He of course no longer able to dream simple life like he was as villager and contributed much bigger share in the current world energy consumption, as Jakarta citizen with wife and two growing kids and all the attributes, his family has to spend at least US$ 780/c/year for home electricity and transport in the capital city. At current prices, it is surprisingly about equivalent to 11 barrels of oil per capita per year, the world peak oil consumption in 1979! While the world oil consumption declining and instead developing more energy alternatives, we unfortunately consumed and dependence more and more on the non-renewable energy as if no peak to come, while produced less and less. Worldwide, the consumption/discovery ratios have nearly reversed themselves in recent years; the world consumed around 25 to 30 billion barrels per year, while only finds less than 10 billion. Reserves Replacement Ratio continues to deteriorating. While it took 125 years to burn through the first trillion barrels of oil, at the current energy consumption it will only take 30 years to burn through the next trillion.

The race for world energy has changed drastically. In Indonesia, drainage process of the existing oil and gas pools have since been accelerated to meet short terms, annual demand. While the Government kept issuing incentives for the production acceleration and enjoyed the increasing high prices, multi-national likewise happy to have apparently invested more under the Production Sharing Contract’s cost recovery and incentives. Otherwise, exploration if any has been focused on marginal prospects around the producing basins at courtesy levels. While they drained the national reserves, they bring the money they earned to invest outside in their more competitive global exploration portfolio. It’s weird that both government and the multi-nationals seem to go along and happy under the imbalanced-national portfolio at least during the last decade.

In addition to lowering their investments in oil exploration and refinery expansion, oil companies have been merging as though the industry is living on borrowed time: BP and Amoco merged in December 1998, BP-Amoco and Arco agreed to merge in April 1999, followed by Exxon and Mobil in December 1999, Chevron and Texaco in October 2000, then Phillips and Conoco in November 2001. In September 2002 Shell acquired Penzoil-Quaker State, Frontier Oil and Holly agreed to merge in 2003, followed by Marathon acquired 40% of Ashland in March 2004, Westport Resources acquired Kerr-McGee in April 2004. In July 2004 analysts suggested BP and Shell to merge, followed by the acquisition of Unocal by Chevron-Texaco in April 2005 after involving Congress in winning the competition with PetroChina. Royal Dutch and Shell merged in June 2005. Mergers and acquisitions are the corporate world’s version of cannibalism. When any industry begins to contract or collapse, the larger and more powerful companies will cannibalize/seize the assets of the smaller, weaker companies. Similarly, the phenomenon outside the energy industry includes the airline and automobile industries.

As the results, the national energy industry has been dragged and misled to joining the race for the restricted discovered resources, big discoveries to replace badly declining national reserves getting scarce, the BanyuUrip discovery in Cepu could be the last if the government do not realize the short coming disaster and turn the direction of the national energy management. Just like farmers have to open new farms while harvesting, the government needs to strategically lead the industry to invest in new exploration proportionally while oil and gas fields discovered in the past are being drained.

Joining the national company Medco E&P Indonesia for the last two years after being enthralled with its aggressive exploration portfolio, he was pondering whether he should join the Sampoerna-ITB School of Business & Management, the skipped level meeting with the CEO last week so inspiring, encouragement of his wife so empowering. As he grasped the door of his Camry wondering how he can influence and help manage the national portfolio if he just an advisor petroleum geosciences.

Jakarta, 28 June 2007, Energy Journey
“The Country Needs a Balanced National Portfolio”
Essay prepared for Executive MBA in Energy Management Sampoerna-ITB School of Business & Management

7 Komentar

Filed under personal, puisi

7 responses to “energy journey : my father’s pathway

  1. Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

  2. woorgh. keren dit! Salam buat ayahmu.

  3. @leksa : bukan jal, itu blogger juga..

  4. weeuuwww…i am so touched reading your dad’s comment. I bet it’s a very nice relationship existing between you and your father. You are a very luck “kiddo” that has a very supportive father. Not many fathers could give comment to their children’s blog, including my dad.
    Keep being motivated San:)

  5. wah jadi ingin ngobrol sama om. kayaknya perbincangannya akan menarik 🙂

  6. Uwes Qorni

    Apa saya boleh meminta no contak om Kartono Sani?saya mahasiswa T. Perminyakan UPN Veteran ingin mengundang beliau ke kampus sebagai dosen tamu mengenai Coal Bed Methane.

    Terima Kasih

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