Clients, Capability and Covid-19

Covid-19 Tsunami

The energy industry was in good shape: operators were investing in major projects and acquisitions. There was a good degree of optimism for a period of growth and stability.

How many of us working in this sector truly foresaw how Covid-19 would sweep over us in a tsunami of health and economic destruction in a devastating few weeks?

Until a few weeks ago, Scapa Energy was quietly pleased with the progress we were making with growing the business.  We have consolidated our core independent assurance services and strengthened internal capability. We have seen significant benefit from establishing a new Aberdeen office in 2019. This created a great collaboration space, allowing us to be closer to our clients. We started doing business with a range of new clients, including Premier Oil, Serica Energy and Tullow Oil.

We have been fortunate to continue with a number of current assignments providing regulatory, HSE, Operations and Transition Management support. Planned assignments such as independent competence assessments in West Africa, a management system audit in Indonesia and a range of major accident hazard focussed audits in the UK will now mostly be done later this year or possibly next year.

The New Normal

To adapt is to survive. This is very much the motto for many of us. Adapting to the low oil price. Adapting to remote working. Offshore installations adapting to social-distancing as best they can. Adapting to being more creative to support clients and adapting to what is now being called the ‘new normal’.

As an example of adaptation, Scapa recently trialled a remote audit process with one of our key clients. This forced more focus and effort in the planning and pre-engagement phase that required the company being audited to prepare up-front written responses. These responses, coupled with breaking the engagements down into smaller sessions, resulted in a very effective outcome.

An associate asked me this week what the ‘new normal’ really means. The key questions that came to my mind were;

  • How long will the Covid-19 tail be i.e. how long will the effects persist for in terms of control measures?
  • What structural changes will be introduced, or remain in place, for the foreseeable future?

These pose both a short and a long term outlook. At least in the short term we can be pretty certain there will be extremely low levels of business travel. There will be significantly reduced office density and sustained home-working practices. Thanks to powerful platforms like Teams, Skype and Starleaf, this has probably been much easier that perhaps thought. Perhaps the image above has some common themes with your home workstation!

In the longer term, and once the threat fades, will we ‘revert to type’ or make structural changes, such as permanent remote working policies, strict travel policies and changed behaviours? And what does this mean for the basic functioning of teams, how they maintain relationships, and how leaders support and influence?

Threat and Opportunity

It has also focussed our minds on our own way of working and forced us to challenge our business model. When the present crisis unfolded, almost in slow motion, I set out clear goals to help prioritise our next steps. This thinking can be seen in the graphic below at a high level.

Source application:

As well as the immediate goals of protecting the business and increasing our resilience, it is also important to explore what new opportunities might come about. We have improved our internal ‘way of working’, successfully trialled a new approach to remote assurance and used remote-working technology to best effect.

We will continue to explore new ideas, including the sectors we work in, our ways of working and the services we offer. For example, new visual tools for incident investigation, and building on our site leadership coaching framework.

Of course, the most important input to what we do is our client feedback. We will always seek and respond to all our client feedback and suggestions. Please contact us anytime for a chat (

Finally, and from a personal perspective, the reduced level of activity has allowed me to reacquaint with some personal interests. I am a little fitter and the garden is in the best shape it has been in for a long time. I hope that you have also managed to re-discover things that may have been neglected for too long. And most important of all, stay safe and healthy.


Featured image:“Working Table” reproduced with kind permission from Mattias Adolfsson; source:

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