Staff who join Enterprise Oil realise they have tapped into a rare resource. The largest independent oil and gas company in the UK has a generously flowing spirit of friendliness, teamwork, and pride.
The company, founded in 1984 from the privatisation of BG Oil, has a market value of £3 billion and is listed in the FTSE 100. Its success started with North Sea fields such as Nelson, producing 85,000 barrels of oil a day, and grew as its teams pioneered efficient techniques to tap smaller pockets of oil.
Now, 40% of business comes from international projects in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico, Italy and Brazil. The firm's size, youth and results bring a culture of accountability, lack of hierarchy and a great sense of achievement.
Conversely, these characteristics also make it vulnerable to takeover, and this year the firm rejected an unsolicited bid, rumoured to be from ENI, the Italian giant and fourth-largest oil company in Europe; at the same time, Enterprise announced a job restructuring in London, which will lead to the loss of about 100 staff. Most say such job cuts are inevitable in the oil industry.
There is a great sense of faith in the firm, and a willingness to work together to preserve its independence. John Naismith, asset manager of the Pierce field, which uses an innovative floating unit to collect oil, said: "At the moment, it is all hands to the pumps. People care enough about the company to do all they can to preserve what they enjoy working with." He joined the firm 11 years ago and was immediately taken by its attitude of treating people as individuals. The London and Aberdeen offices have been refurbished, and 92% of staff told us these facilities contribute to a good working environment. The award-winning Aberdeen office includes a gym and reading room.
The firm invests £60,000 a year in social clubs and £400 a year in gym or sports membership for each employee. Social events include barbecues, theatre trips and clay pigeon shooting. Flexitime is another benefit, and everyone is entitled to work a nine-day fortnight, taking every other Friday off. Enterprise offers an excellent package of financial rewards and benefits.
Chris Flavell, a geophysicist and team leader of new ventures, said: "We really do have the best package. Fridays trekking in the mountains with my wife help me keep my sanity." A staff suggestion scheme offers up to £25,000 for innovative ideas (although the best so far has been setting up a webcam for London staff to see the queue in the canteen). Professional courses are sponsored for up to £7,000 a year, and 92% of staff said they were offered training to help advance their careers. The firm invests £250,000 in community projects each year.
Staff genuinely feel that it would be a tragedy to lose the Enterprise culture of hard work, openness and responsibility.
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