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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Winston Mohammed, NGC's Project Manager

“Trinadad is now entering the journey of Climate Change and the NGC is a pivotal player in catalysing it” - Winston Mohammed, NGC's Project Manager

Mr. Winston Mohammed is the Senior Manager, Projects Division of the National Gas Company (NGC) of Trinidad and Tobago Limited. NGC is the Associate partner of the energy advance network.

Mr. Winston Mohammed, joined the NGC in August 2018, bringing with him over 25 years

experience in the oil and gas industry and has spent over 10 years leading large projects from design, procurement, construction, commissioning, and handover to operations, including the Juniper, Mango, and New Oil Export Pipeline projects in a Programme approach.

His work experience, prior to NGC, includes project management and gas commercial experience at BP Trinidad and Tobago LLC.

He is accountable for the delivery of all capital projects in NGC and the compliance of all capital projects against the requirements of NGC's Project Management Methodology (PMM) across the NGC Group.


Interview by:  Ndubuisi Micheal Obineme

TER: Please give us a glance at your career journey in the oil and gas industry, with emphasis on your project management skills which have been very productive at NGCTT?

Winston: I see my experience in three buckets. First of all, I spent 10 years as an engineer. To be a Project Manager, you need to be a good engineer. I also spent a few years in my formative career, learning and doing construction works on small projects such as platform modification, pipeline modification, design engineering on facilities, process plants. I did that for around 10 years which gave me a strong background in the industry.

Also, BP gave me the opportunity to transition to commercial projects. I spent five years in commercial projects where I did an economic evaluation. I learned business development, gas contracts as well as planning and strategy. I developed the element needed for writing a good business kit. With this, it positioned me to become a major project leader which made me manage big projects worth over $500 million United States Dollars.

I also moved into manufacturing where I learned Lean Six Sigma that taught me about process optimization, and I came back into the oil and gas industry. These working experiences helped me to function in my role as a project leader at the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGCTT).


TER: How would you describe your working experience at NGCTT?

Winston: Firstly, I started working with BP in Trinidad, but NGCTT has always been part of me. I have been building platforms and facilities to provide gas for NGC. NGCTT is a very different working environment for me and the company is so important for the economy of Trinidad & Tobago. NGCTT integrates the entire value chain of Trinidad's gas sector.

Recognizing who we are and being a part of NGC makes me excited to share my experience and knowledge with my teams.

Also, I am excited to be part of the journey to see Trinidad & Tobago transition from where we are to where we need to go.


TER: Speaking on the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 that had a negative impact on the oil and gas industry. What are NGCTT COVID-19 response strategies; and what lessons did you learn from them?

Winston: The COVID-19 pandemic is a critical moment for us. Prior to the pandemic, our President put in place a five-year strategy, and part of his strategy was how we will build the building blocks of a company that will be sustainable.

So, we have already entered the journey of collaboration and business crisis management. And, when COVID-19 came, we find ourselves actually prepared as a company to operate remotely.

As an organization, we launched a business planning exercise and we put in place contingency plans which made us maintain business continuity even when zero staffs were at the workplace. We are an extremely resilient company because we have developed the business model over the years.

For instance, we implemented 'Project Online' which is a Microsoft-enabled collaborative tool that makes us see the performance of our projects such as the project management, schedules, costs among others, all these were integrated through the 'Project Online.

And, when COVID-19 came, we were able to run the project collaboratively online and maintain continuity not a single plant or system was shut down because of COVID-19.


TER: What're your analyses on the latest trends in Trinidad & Tobago energy, oil, gas industry?

Winston: Trinidad & Tobago oil sector is more than 100 years old. We are in an energy transition. In the 1990s through BP and other companies, we started the journey with NGCTT to develop a natural gas economy for Trinidad. What we have now is a world-class petrochemical industry in which NGCTT sits as the aggregator. This industry is over 20 years of existence, and in the year 2000, we saw the emergence of Liquefied Natural Gas (NGCTT).

20 years ago, we have enjoyed a strong economy driven by natural gas. Though the world is changing based on climate change and technological innovations are making the world more efficient, and where we work is changing due to the impact of climate change.

Trinidad is now entering the journey of climate change and NGCTT is a pivotal player in catalyzing it.

We have developed world-class assets in terms of petrochemical, natural gas, pipelines. But we now need to join the journey with the rest of the world in terms of the climate change agenda.


TER: Talking about the building blocks of NGCTT. Since you came on board as the Senior Project Manager, what are some of the achievements and strategies you have put in place to diversify and strengthen NGCTT's business portfolio?

Winston: Change is never easy. It takes a lot of commitment and passion. This is my third year at NGCTT. For me, my focus is developing the building blocks. If you don't have a strong foundation, you won't have a sustainable business.

At NGCTT, we have a project management methodology. What I focused on is taking all the projects through the project management methodology process and making sure the teams have samples on how to work on the project as well as putting in the processes in place that allow us to manage and make the best technical and commercial decisions.

We also developed a partnership with some of our key partners locally. We signed technical services contract where we leverage our in-house engineering design system to design and install our new infrastructure to promote estate development with our partner.

We also worked through government arrangements with a Ghana company to design a new pressure regulatory skit that is undergoing construction in Trinidad. We are doing it online not in Ghana. This is very exciting for us at this time.


TER: The global energy industry is seeking innovative solutions for the decarbonization of climate change. How is NGCTT accelerating towards a low carbon future?

Winston: The first approach that we have taken is measuring where our sources of emissions are coming from. We have measured it and we are now working on the process of reducing the emissions by designing new facilities as well as going back to the sources to fix and reduce the emission footprint that we have.

Another thing we are working on is how we can get a lower carbon molecule in our products and services. For example, we have kicked off a small-scale LNG project that will focus on greener LNG molecules to the Caribbean region that may be using heavy oil. We are looking for solutions on how we can replace those dirty molecules with cleaner natural gas.

We are also moving towards renewable energy through government policy. NGC Group is partnering with BP to install a solar plant in Trinidad, and we will be partnering with other companies for clean energy development.

We want to go beyond selling gas, but we want to look at how we can leverage our skills and partnership to grow our renewable business.

At NGC, we believe that a green molecule is a competitive advantage. It is sustainable and makes sense going forward.


TER: What's NGC main building blocks for Energy Transition?

Winston: The main building block for NGC in terms of the Energy Transition is focusing on natural gas. Natural gas is a clean source of fuel, and we have a strong foundation in natural gas. From there, we will position towards renewables.


TER: Going forward, what's your plans to develop the business model for clean energy projects?

Winston: My immediate focus will be on developing small-scale LNG projects. We are also looking at hydrogen molecules, Geothermal, Wind Energy, and Solar Energy.

We want to start focusing on the Caribbean area as other areas in that region are ahead of us and we can learn from them through partnership.


TER: What are your action plans in 2021 and beyond?

Winston: My main strategic focus in 2021 is developing the skill set of the future. There is a strong recognition that if you want to transform 10 years from today, you need to invest in the development of your skillset today.

My big focus this year is developing the technical competence to enable us to achieve our vision and become the world leader in project development. It requires a different skillset and building a strong partnership which we are already doing.

I am working on transitioning my organization towards the skill set of the future.

For 2022, we will be building some new facilities and it's a pivotal year for us to demonstrate our innovative actions towards a green economy.