Alliance: A Code Of Ethics & Words Of Gold

Date PublishedJanuary 28, 2016
CompanyPlains Fabrication
Article AuthorStephen Mackisoc
Article TypeJanuary 2016 Issue
CategoryArticles, Oil & Gas
Tags, , ,
HUB SEARCHPlainsFabrication
PULSE Interactive

Alliance: A Code Of Ethics & Words Of Gold

Cowboy Ethics and Cowboy Values, came out of the collapse of Wall Street due to corruption.

Collaboration and cooperation are two well misunderstood words in the Wild West these days! In relation to those words, I still see more actions around the antonyms (one-sided, one-way, unilateral) than the synonyms noted above. I spoke briefly last month about the code of the West, and I would like to elaborate on that theme before discussing collaboration. James Owen’s books, Cowboy Ethics and Cowboy Values, came out of the collapse of Wall Street due to corruption. Owen was a successful financier who watched the financial world collapse around him, and he knew exactly why. This is what drove him to dig deeper into the Western ethics theme. Both books espouse the benefits of going back to a time when ethics and values meant everything, and when a man’s word really was gold.


1  Live each day with courage
2  Take pride in your work
3  Always finish what you start
4  Do what has to be done
5  Be tough but fair

6  When you make a promise, keep it
7  Ride for the brand
8  Talk less and say more
9  Remember some things are not for sale
10  Know where to draw the line

I agree with Owen that we could all avoid a lot of grief if we simply paid attention to the code and maybe added in the Golden Rule for good measure. There simply isn’t enough of that going on. Don’t get me wrong. There are certainly some people and some companies behaving ethically and honestly, but they are becoming fewer and farther between.

The situation is exacerbated by a deadly combination of low commodity prices globally and an American appetite to kill oil sands development. There are literally hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into Canada from US interests wanting to stop pipelines and limit or eliminate production from the oil sands. As Canadians, why do we allow this? We need to get tougher and be more assertive around our sovereignty, especially when it relates to our natural resources like oil, gas, and also water. In a book called The Try (yes, another James Owen book), he highlights the blend of grit, guts, and heart that define those who have “try”. We have try in the oilpatch in spades, and we will recover. We cannot base such a recovery on the hopes oil will return to ridiculous prices in the near future. We need to focus our efforts and start doing more to protect what drives this country forward. There are various numbers and sources, but most will agree Alberta oil will contribute somewhere around $2 trillion to the national economy over the next 25 years. I don’t care whether you are conservative or liberal. There is no way you can walk away from this level of GDP, especially when it is connected to a product that has global reach.

So, what does all this have to do with collaboration? Well, the code of the West is based on trust, and you simply cannot have collaboration without trust! This is much the same reason a “group” differs so much from a “team”. There are plenty of groups who do reasonably well, but the groups that achieve the most are teams. They trust one another, they know their teammates are giving 100% to achieve a common clearly defined goal, and they know that is how you win.

The Way Forward

Well, the code of the West is based on trust, and you simply cannot have collaboration without trust!

key-successAt Plains Fabrication, we have been working with very select partners who desire this type of relationship. They are those who operate ethically and in an environmentally sound manner. In oil, gas and oil sands products and solutions, the fabricator is quite frequently the last step in the buying process and, in some cases, erroneously treated as a simple commodity. One of the best ways to reduce cost is to engage the fabricator much earlier in the design process. The same way producers have finally realized having the actual operators fully engaged in the engineering phase has lowered the total cost of ownership. However, as fabricators, we prefer not to divulge all these cost savings ideas only to have them shared with multiple bidders or have multiple bidders all led down the same path. Promising work to many when there will be only one company left standing at the end hurts all of us and increases costs. Lowest bidder mentality has been proven to increase total cost of ownership in many areas rather than decrease it.

The partners Plains is on this collaboration path with include the obvious ones, E&P companies and EPC’s, but also some you may not expect. Companies, who were at one time competitors, are now partners in delivering a single solution to our end users. We openly share hours and costs once the alliance is solidified, and we are all rowing in the same direction. We can each focus on our strengths but continue to improve as we share ideas and concepts to help each other. Just like many hands make lighter work, many brains make better solutions. By forging functional and trust-based teams in this way, we can all improve. We can deliver more solutions at lower cost to the end user and maintain the highest level of quality.

Although the Saudis “may” be losing their appetite for cornering the market on oil due to a deficit on the order of 20% of their GDP, we need to keep the pressure on ourselves to deliver more for less. Replication and D1BM strategies abound with many different companies moving down similar roads. I hope for us, unlike the drive to harmonize specifications around process equipment, all can somehow settle on a similar solution. A solution that allows fabricators and manufacturers to remove the peaks and valleys from our production schedules. A solution we can efficiently build time after time knowing the nameplate production will be achieved with minimal change. We need solutions that keep our industry on solid footing for years to come and protect our sovereignty over our resources. We are long past the time when anyone should be thinking of reinventing the wheel while safely ensconced in their own little “sphere of excellence”! It is time for us to truly collaborate to deliver the best solutions at the lowest total cost of ownership.

Stephen Mackisoc
Chief Operating Officer






Originally published in the 

January 2016 issue of Oilfield PULSE