Survey By Rie Jerichow
DHRTC is an infusion of young blood

To do research and development, you need to have the right people. They need to know what to do, how to do it – and finally they must work together. This is not an easy task. Every second year, The Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre is contractually obliged to provide an evaluation of these processes. The centre has good reason to be pleased with the 2016-2018 ‘grades‘.

‘Keep up the good work’. It could very well be the words of a demanding but also satisfied parent seeing a child’s grades as successful as DHRTC’s biennial evaluation. The ‘grading’ of the last two years of work was carried out by OTM Consulting, which not only provides the analysis but also comes up with recommendations to support the strategic R&D investment decisions. The latest evaluation shows significant progress.

Shreekant Mehta, Director at OTM Consulting explains: “From 2016 to 2018 DHRTC has made a significant jump in all the areas evaluated and, in a short lifetime, DHRTC has become strong in the majority of them. It is quite an unusual situation.”

DHRTC plays with the big boys

In the evaluation, DHRTC is compared to a handful of similar organisations like Imperial College, Texas A&M and Schlumberger.   

“These organisations have been working for many, many years to achieve their leadership positions. To be able to say that you are close on the heels of these organisations is quite something. DHRTC started in 2014 with an empty shell of a building and now in 2018 to be in such a position is extraordinary – it really is,” Shreekant Mehta says.

The research areas which DHRTC focuses on are not unusual. ​

He continues: “The themes themselves are replicated in many areas and not unique, but the way DHRTC is pulling together the resources in the 130 different projects and the way they are attacked is entirely innovative and diversified.” 

According to Shreekant Mehta, the oil industry today, in general, has a great need for innovative researchers.

“We have seen a great loss of people. There just aren’t enough clever, innovative researchers in the industry right now. The multidisciplinary nature of the work that DHRTC is doing is in high demand. The oil companies want to accelerate their production safely, increase recovery and reduce the uncertainty of their exploration and development programmes. It will mean a lot to Total that DHRTC is working on all three of these with a unique mix of scientific people and applications people. This is one of the really unique things that DHRTC has,” Shreekant Mehta explains.

On the other hand, DHRTC is also dependent on input from the oil industry. “DHRTC needs focus and direction from the oil industry and the oil industry needs R&D capabilities from DHRTC. Young blood, so to say,” the OTM Director concludes.

Shreekant Mehta

“From 2016 to 2018 DHRTC has made a significant jump in all the areas evaluated and, in a short lifetime, DHRTC has become strong in the majority of them. It is quite an unusual situation.”

OTM graphics

External evaluation: DHRTC is on the right track

DHRTC has made significant progress since the last evaluation. This is the overall conclusion of the OTM assessment from 2018.

The framework used in the evaluation of the DHRTC is divided into four themes, each with several sub-elements. Together they form an overall picture of the performance of the centre. The data in the evaluation is gathered from 14 interviews, 48 survey responses and supplementary sources. Here you will find the key conclusions of the evaluation:

 

Overall evaluation of ‘Quality of Objective settings’

Research focus is considered one of the centre’s strengths, yet the 100MMBOE objectives are beginning to look unrealistic as the centre moves closer to the 10 – year deadline

Clear and good awareness of the overall (100MMBOE) and team objectives, but slight confusion about next steps following maturation of projects.

Research focus has expanded and become more defined, structured, and relevant to the objectives compared to 2016.

 

Overall evaluation of ‘Quality of Working Together’

Good progress from 2016 on creating an effective organisation structure, introducing collaboration and trust between the partners, yet industry communication and challenges related to the culture in academia still persist.

The changes that have been made to the organisational structure in 2017 have been instrumental in enhancing the level of collaboration between the researchers.

Internal communication has become more frequent and there is a clear strategy now for communicating with the community, and also in encouraging team communication on projects.

A sense of community is growing between the local partners, and some progress on the international level.

 

Overall evaluation of ‘Quality of Processes’

Processes have grown from an embryonic and trial/error stage in 2016 to become well-structured and formalised. Effectiveness is yet to be established as some of the processes have just been launched.

Good awareness and communication of strategy but some confusion exists about its effectiveness in enabling the centre to reach its objectives

Strong financial planning, legal and compliance processes. Budgeting processes are enabling the centre to operate under a predicted capacity, but accuracy is challenged by cultural barriers.

Informal processes for sharing knowledge still dominate, which is a good sign for creating a culture of knowledge sharing.

Technology conference is one of the centre’s main achievements and has received positive feedback.

Dedicated efforts to incorporate commercialisation in project plans, with some tangible results delivered in 2018.

 

Overall evaluation of ‘Quality of Resources’

Talent acquisition to ensure progression of projects is still a persisting challenge from 2016, and upcoming headwinds through unclear industry-partners’ commitment are is looming on the horizon

Facilities are considered adequate for research purposes.

The centre has grown in size since 2016, but talent acquisition is still a challenge that is affecting the progress of projects and expenditure.