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By Robert Rapier on Jan 29, 2008 with no responses

The Manpower Shortage Worsens

Now for a short personal note. It’s been several days since I last updated, but there’s been a lot going on.

There have been a lot of stories in the past year about the manpower shortages in the oil and gas industry. I have decided to make the shortage worse by one, as I have announced my intention to leave the industry on March 1, 2008.

There were multiple factors behind the decision, none of which involved dissatisfaction with my employer or my job. I will get into specific details later of what I will be doing, but I will primarily be working with two different companies. Both companies are involved in sustainability issues. The first is called Accsys Technologies PLC, based in London. Essentially, they have a commercial chemical process that can convert fast-growing softwoods like pine into something with the durability of the best hardwoods. From an environmental perspective, this is very attractive, because it takes pressure off of tropical rainforests (a major source of hardwoods). This wood is being used to replace steel and aluminum in certain applications, which amounts to a major improvement in the carbon footprint (which I am still working to quantify).

The way I became involved with this company was that the new CEO, Finlay Morrison, was my former OXO business line manager when I was with Celanese. After he was named CEO, Finlay contacted me about a job. After telling him “No” several times, he told me that “No” wasn’t an answer he would accept. (Those Scots are a persistent bunch). So, I accepted the position of Engineering Director for the company. I will be relocating in the short term to Arnhem, in the Netherlands. I will also spend considerable time in China. My base location will be Dallas, which was attractive for the family because it is a short distance from extended family. (My kids have until now lived far from grandparents, cousins, etc.) I am not crazy about the travelling aspect, but the benefits far outweighed the inconveniences.

The second company I am involved with will have to remain unnamed for now. While some are doing press releases on how they are going to win the cellulosic ethanol race, this other company I am involved with has quietly developed a technology that I believe will trump them all. But, for now they prefer to continue developing business plans and remain out of the spotlight. (They are really a modest bunch). Hopefully sometime soon I can talk them into going public with what they are doing. And no, I won’t tell you who they are if you e-mail me. :-)

I intend to continue writing about energy and sustainability issues. But by making this change, I also intend to make a more substantial contribution toward a more sustainable world.