By Christian Le Moine, published on June 10th, 2018, modified on June 11th, 2018
In March 2016 I was called in the office of Christophe Eon, the HR Vice President of TEPQ. At that time, I was Head of General Services. In short, I was explained that Total was bidding on the Al Shaheen field, then operated by Maersk Oil Qatar. Everything was highly confidential, this project was named Quo Vadis, and needed to be treated as top secret. I was asked to look around in West Bay, the business district of Doha, for office space for the transition team. If Total was awarded to operate Al Shaheen field, an “army” of Total staff, contracted staff and local temporary staff would arrive within the next three months! We needed also to find accommodations for more than 100 Total staff and families that would come with the project. I was informed that from the start until the end of the transition phase, around 500 transition personnel could be involved. It was a massive process! This is how I started to hunt everywhere in the city for offices and accommodations. This was not an easy task, looking for a serious size real estate for both, without giving the full information to the landlords. After some deliberation, we found some interesting locations. In case of success, we were ready to welcome everybody!
Total won the Al Shaheen contract in June, the new Joint venture was named North Oil Company and the adventure could start for real! Since Christophe Eon and I had done already some prospecting and had a plan ready, Frederic Paux, Transition Manager, asked us to join the transition team. I must say that I was excited. I like to work on big size project and I was already part of some large scale projects, like Yemen LNG (YLNG). As General Services Transition Team Leader, I made a budget presentation to Qatar Petroleum (QP) with our strategy for the temporary offices and for the permanent offices. Presentation went well but QP decided that their General Services team would review our strategy. Shortly after, they announced that they were launching a call for Tender for the temporary and the permanent offices.
In the meantime, the first teams arrived in July. Since we did not have approved office location, we spread out the team in the TEPQ offices in Alfardan Tower. This went on during the whole summer. In September 2016, QP announced they had office space ready for NOC in QP’s former floor in Navigation Tower, the former Qatar Gas offices. This building was shared with Qatar Gas, QP and NOC which the first offices we had were on the 9th floor. Soon we found out that we most likely were going to be in there for a while! More people joined the transition teams and already, the office space was getting too small. QP gave us then more floors, in The Qatar Gas building and across the street in Gate Mall’s office towers 3 and 4. Until the end, we moved all the teams around for months, every time we needed more office space. The IT department for example moved three times in two months. All teams had to face all on this with very intense workload.
In the mean time I had to set up North Oil Company General Services, first from TEPQ office then I moved to Navigation tower with the whole initial transition team. Soon, three new members joined the team. For around 6 months, I ran this team and all office relocations, continuing planning and setting up all services for the temporary and the permanent offices. I was ready to receive the first transfer from NOC facility management. But things did not go as planned… I came to know from the Maersk Facility manager that they were not to transfer to the new building until the Commencement Day which was on the 14th of July 2017. I needed more staff urgently. My team was overloaded and transfers started. NOC was already growing fast in personnel numbers. Luckily, we found some reinforcement for the team and we continued. Finally the Commencement Day arrived and the Maersk Facility management team took over from the General Services transition team. I still assisted the new team for a while until they were more comfortable in the temporary locations. I returned to Total four weeks after the commencement day.
I must say that it was such a big achievement for all of us. We had so much to handle for such a small team : organization set up, the planning, the office move -14 floors in 4 different locations!-, the daily and weekly presentations, the amount of meetings per day and per week, the office fit-out, the Call for tenders, the daily services and all the security and safety procedures. As exhausted as we were without counting hours, I am proud to have pulled it off with a team that hanged in there.
This was a good example of a team effort. Not only my team, but all the team leaders and their subordinates for understanding all the challenges. Being positive all the time, having a smile on my face every day, never showing stress to my colleagues and subordinates, made the difference for the team. They gave themselves not 100% but much more. Looking back, I can honestly say, well done…We did it !