By Madasyn Czebiniak
Energy isn’t just about drilling holes and cracking rocks to release shale gas. It can also mean analyzing production efficiency for oil and gas wells. Some have found their calling focusing on that end of the industry.
Lianne Lami, president and CEO of Bocci Engineering, a multi-disciplinary consulting firm, is one of them.
Ms. Lami’s Houston-based firm supplies engineering designs, environmental consulting, asset risk mitigation and construction management for oil, gas, power manufacturing, industrial, commercial and institutional facilities.
On the oil and gas side, Bocci works mainly with “Tier II” companies, or suppliers, and has done projects for energy giants Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil. Some of those projects include gas processing research and infrastructure optimization.
“A lot of the areas for transport of the oil and gas require remote plant locations, and those plants require utilities and infrastructure,” Ms. Lami said. “Some of the projects we focus on are on-site power generation. I would say about 20 percent of our work is around energy efficiency and sustainability, but we also look at water and waste management.”
Bocci Engineering was incorporated in 2007 and has since grown from a staff of one to 17. In 2012, Ms. Lami opened a Pittsburgh-area office, a decision influenced by her clients and the shale activity in the region.
“We had clients that were growing their business in Pittsburgh. It made sense for us to follow,” said Ms. Lami, who is a Shaler native.
Before working with oil and gas companies, she worked predominantly with utility, power generation, industrial and manufacturing facilities. Her first job was as a design engineer with Florida Power & Light in Miami.
“When people think of energy companies, they think of oil and gas, but I started my career on the utility side of the industry,”
Ms. Lami, 49, said. “What’s interesting is the utilities in the northeast quadrant and mideast, especially in Pittsburgh, are one of the primary customers for shale gas.”
Before starting Bocci in 2001, Ms. Lami worked as a national project director in Enron Corp.’s energy retail sector and moved to Houston from Washington, D.C., in 2000 to work at its corporate headquarters.
Enron filed for bankruptcy in 2001, and Ms. Lami developed her business plan for Bocci immediately after.
“I found the work that I did for Enron to be a tremendous benefit in my career,” Ms. Lami said. “Enron was very heavily involved in oil and gas production. I had experience in the industry and found myself in Houston. It definitely opened up an insight for me to be an entrepreneur.”
Q: What are some of the skills that are transferable to oil and gas from the rest of the energy industry?
A: Safety is a major component. Quality and process management, those types of consulting services, are extremely transferable. There is a tremendous need for technology in order to support production, and the demand on water in the shale gas industry. All technology-orientated companies in filtration and water treatment are needed.
Q: Working in different states means working with different rules and regulations. How do you stay on top of things when doing jobs in different states? Do the differences affect how you handle business?
Bocci is really dependent on our team and our team’s talent. As we expand into areas, we grow our team and make sure we bring in the right subject experts with knowledge of the local codes and environmental standards.
In the energy stage, it’s about staying up on new technologies. Participating in professional associations and technology centers is critical to being aware of and being able to deliver new technology challenges. If we’re working on locating equipment and drivers, that knowledge of the system is beneficial when used in oil and gas and power generation.
Q: What does Pittsburgh have to offer that other places don’t?
A: It’s sort of a blend of concepts. Initially there was a general come back to visit friends and family, and the movement of my clients into the area, so I toyed with having a presence there. My cousin owns an architecture firm called Lami Grubb Architects. I connected with my cousin, and it made the launch of a small business softer. From a standpoint in the Appalachia area, the interest in the shale gas market was growing. If you look back five or six years, it’s been a pretty new business and I was sort of that representative of head knowledge of the industry.
There is an industry transition, a need for knowledgeable, local resources. Energy was new to Pittsburgh — those who knew the energy industry weren’t necessarily there. My company had a perfect pairing in that we were already knowledgeable, provided services that were needed, and I was already familiar with Pittsburgh because that’s where I grew up. Lastly, I’m not a spring chicken anymore. My parents are aging and my need to be closer to home has grown.
Q: You are an equestrian. Also, you live in Texas. Have you been in a rodeo or competed in any shows?
A: In all honesty, I’ve been riding horses I think since I was in grade school and tried to buy my first horse before I bought my first car. Much to my parent’s dismay, I teased them about not going to college to be a horse trainer because that’s how much I like horses. But you couldn’t really do field work for Florida Power & Light on horseback.
There’s a wonderful group of equestrians here that do the rodeo circuit. I’ve never done a rodeo because my sort of choice is endurance. I would say I’m a good rider. I like to go fast.