UBERization in oil transportation? Interview with a representative of OSVFinder – an innovative company revolutionizing logistics

The transportation sector is an essential part of any supply chain. During their studies, students of energy politics often focus ether on upstream or downstream, but omitting the midstream sector is indeed a pity. In this interview with Pierre Jouvellier, ENERPO Graduate (2016) we discuss the new developments in the sector of oil transportation and perspectives of innovations that can reshape the architecture of the oil business.

Pierre Jouvellier did his BA degree in international business and Russian language and history at the University of Rennes in Western France, after which he did an internship at Total Gas in London. Interest in LNG industry and Russian affairs led Pierre to study with ENERPO in 2015-2016. In 2016, he continued with second MA degree in corporate finance with a minor in financial engineering at Kedge business school in Marseille. Since 2016, Pierre decided to focus on energy shipping and began working at OSVFinder.

The interview was held by Julie Nielen and Irina Mironova.

ENERPO JOURNAL: Pierre, so you work at the marketing department of the company OSVFinder. Could you please tell us about your educational background and your path toward your current position?

PIERRE JOUVELLIER: Currently I am interning with the marketing department of the OSVFinder. This means that I do a bit of everything that would expand our client base. But coming to the company essentially was a choice to work in the energy shipping sector.

My BA degree is in international business and Russian language and history at the University of Rennes in Western France. After getting BA degree, I did an internship at Total Gas in London and during this internship I discovered LNG and became familiar with the shipping operations of coal, petroleum, coke and LNG trading. I decided that I wanted to study energy in Russia, and came to the EUSP. During the year at ENERPO I learned a lot about energy and geopolitics, economics of oil and gas markets and, of course, Russian culture and literature. After this MA degree in Russia I came back to France and I started a second MA degree in corporate finance and financial engineering. The part of the finance studies that impressed me most was venture capital and capital development, and this played a significant role in the choice of my next professional steps. I did consider applying for some banking jobs linked to oil derivatives. However, the economy of finance has changed a lot with the arrival of algorithmic trading and robotics, which leaves limited space for ‘humans’ to work in the sector. So, I decided to focus on the energy shipping sector.

I very much sympathise with start-ups. At a start-up, you basically learn everything: operational tasks, finance (how to raise funds for instance), marketing and even corporate communications. At a start-up, you learn about everything regarding the sector you are working in. After asking around, I encountered OSVFinder and since it was a start-up in energy shipping this was exactly the organisation that fit my interests and expectations.

Then, of course, I still had to get in. I think in the end, the best thing to use when searching a position in the oil and gas sector is personal connections. If I would give some advice to ENERPO students, I would stress that they have an opportunity to meet many people during the ENERPO conferences. And so, if you approach those people at the end of the conference, talk to them, ask them for their business card, and do not hesitate to follow up over the phone or email. Sometimes it works. Even if it does not bring a job, it expands your network.

ENERPO JOURNAL: Could you tell us a bit about the company?

PIERRE JOUVELLIER: OSVFinder is a French company based in Marseille, with plans to open offices in Singapore and Dubai (these two places are located on major international oil and gas trade routes). The basic idea behind the business is matching ship owners and charterers with the help of an application. Both types of players are registered in the system and can ‘post’ their availability or needs. The application then matches their requests to find the most efficient solutions for shipping. Currently, the company only works with offshore support vessels, but it would be very interesting for us to work with oil and gas tankers. The application lists almost seventy large shipping companies, and the total number of vessels registered with us is over 100 000 all over the world.

In my opinion, the application bears the potential to be globally disruptive. The application is the answer to the industry’s need to avoid intermediaries, where you need to pay commissions. Commissions in case of the OSVFinder will be substituted by a clear and transparent subscription plan.

OSVFinder is a type of Uber for energy sector related shipping. Maybe the principle is closer to BlaBlaCar (where you match the route and share a car: OSVFinder helps users to match the players. In any case, this is part of the ‘Uberization’ of society.

 ENERPO JOURNAL: How do you feel about working in the shipping sector, which is decidedly less visible than, for instance, exploration and production? Did you ever want to be involved in a more visible sector?

PIERRE JOUVELLIER: I should mention right away that OSVFinder allows charterers to find assets with experienced crews in drilling and subsea maintenance and repairs, so we are not purely part of the shipping segment, but also indirectly involved in E&P. But overall I have to agree that the oil and gas shipping industry, especially for off-shore support vessels, is indeed a somewhat ‘hidden’ part of the industry. Shipping is an essential link between production and sales, and as I learned at ENERPO last year, shipping is the basis for oil trading. Without this link, the markets would not exist. I agree that it is perhaps a less visible sector, but it is still a very important one.

Notably, our company, which I believe can make a major difference for the organisation of the shipping industry is just three people, 33, 28 and 26 years old. I am very excited to be in this sector, being able to make a change, and doing it in a team like OSVFinder.

ENERPO JOURNAL: Do you have any other advice for ENERPO students?

PIERRE JOUVELLIER: I would advise students to be curious about the whole variety of distinct aspects of energy industry instead of focussing on one narrow item or topic. There are plenty of opportunities in this sector, and young people getting into the sector need to be very versatile. When dealing with a problem, bear in mind politics, marketing, finance, web development, logistical solutions, communications, etc.

My second piece of advice is to think about how things can be improved. Find a problem, and find a solution to solve the problem.

My third suggestion is to not only focus on big corporations or large institutions. Of course, when we talk about the energy sector, we instantly think of giants like ExxonMobil, Gazprom, Lukoil, Total, BP, Shell, etc. But there are many other companies in this sector (who provide great solutions to the giants). Think about new businesses, and think about new services for the oil industry when choosing career paths.

Last but not least, we are facing a new kind of industrial revolution, with robotics and computer science coming to the forefront. We will automate almost everything in the world. Industrial players will use more and more and more robots. But there is one thing that robots cannot replace, and I am pretty sure it is impossible to replace it: it is creativity and inventiveness. So, my last advice is to be creative when you search for solutions.

Pierre Jouvellier can be contacted via email: pierre.jouvellier@osvfinder.com

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