Laurent COMBE

UK SNS - General Manager

With a professional journey rich of many years of experience in the group, Laurent has the ambition to change the English subsidiary, not only by transforming its facilities but also the ways it operates, by motivating teams to show more creativity and bring new ideas. A challenge that matches the multiple projects undertaken by the subsidiary, including the dismantling ones, for which the United Kingdom is a precursor in the group.

Can you describe your career pathway? Why did you choose Perenco?

I am a graduate of Paris Mines. An internship in a laboratory allowed me to understand that I needed a more physical job, outdoors, which would open the route to adventure. So I joined Schlumberger as a logging engineer. My first assignment brought me to Algeria - a country I quickly had to leave, given the political events. Then I was sent to Argentina where I stayed for three years. The redundancy of the assignments and the difficulty in making progress with my career drove me to apply at Perenco, a company that was recommended by someone I knew. This was really when the adventure started!

Can you describe your professional journey with Perenco?

I started as a production engineer then a site manager in Gabon, in rotation on offshore fields for two years, before being transferred to Cameroon, where I also stayed for two years. I was very happy with the organisation 6 weeks/6 weeks, as I had only had three weeks of holidays within three years until then. A reservoir specialist, I learned the job of oil operator on the ground. Four years later, my past experience and the fact that I was fluently speaking Spanish, allowed me to be appointed Geosciences manager in Colombia, a position I also held in Venezuela, when the subsidiary started operating.

In 2002, Perenco opened Ecuador with a major development project deep in the forest, a first for the company that was only specialised in the recovery of mature fields. I was offered to take up the management of operations and projects, then in 2004, when the subsidiary manager left, I was promoted as general manager for the subsidiary. I particularly appreciated this experience, where headquarters really gave us responsibilities, by leaving us a great autonomy, with a very short decision-making process.

I stayed there for three years before joining the English subsidiary in 2007, whose offices were at the time in London. I held the position of general manager there.
In 2010, I was appointed Group technical manager. I was in charge of Projects and Pre-projects, Marine, IT, Logistics and Production, until 2016. Then, I had different roles, particularly the one of area manager and operations manager, before taking up the management of the English subsidiary in 2017, on the North Sea area. This is still where I am today.

What does your job entail and what challenges do you face?

As manager of the subsidiary, my main mission is to set-up and guarantee the budget validated by the group management, taking into account the ground reality and local characteristics.
In the United Kingdom, our assets are very old. The challenge therefore consists in answering true technical challenges to maintain our production costs and ensure the profitability of the subsidiary, while taking into account a very restricted and regulated environment, with high standards and rather conservative working methods. Unlike in other subsidiaries of the group, the teams there are not mobile. Therefore, even today, we are committed to convey the spirit and the values of the company, to motivate our employees to open up to new ideas and to show ingenuity.
Finally, given the advanced age of our platforms, a few date from 1968, we have been brought to develop a dismantling activity. Within 25 years, 60 platforms will be involved. In 2017, we created a dedicated department, with a team composed of former operators for the dismantling of surface facilities, a project manager for the lifting part, licence managers, cost controllers and well operations specialists.

How do you work as part of a team? What are your relationships with the general managers of the other subsidiaries?

I appreciate working as close as possible to the teams wherever possible, but the subsidiary has 1,200 people. I can rely on a complete management team based in Norwich, apart from the legal part that remains in London.
We have a lot of exchanges with Wytch Farm teams, in particular for Human Resources and Procurement, which we manage for them. Exchanges are more informal with the management of the other subsidiaries.

What is your vision for tomorrow?

Within two or three years, if we maintain our investment strategy, we will have a magnificent production tool, more rational and adapted to our needs. It is a real challenge for the subsidiary and the entire team, who also has to show mobility and creativity.