After completing my BEng (Hons) Chemical Engineering at Heriot Watt University in 2010 my first role was a graduate process engineer at National Oilwell Varco (NOV).
I started university as a pharmacy student at RGU in Aberdeen. After completing my first year, I felt I was on the wrong career path as I wanted to do a course with more focus on maths, chemistry and physics. After speaking with my brother (who graduated that year as a chemical engineer) I applied for Chemical Engineering at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh where I entered directly in to second year. I completed my BEng (hons) in 2010. Due to the nature of a chemical engineering degree the opportunities were very varied. I initially looked into a career in pharmaceuticals before deciding that the oil and gas industry would suit my interests better. As soon as I started at NOV, I knew I had made the right choice, and the oil and gas industry was where I wanted to continue my career as a process engineer and have done for the past 8 years.
I have been fortunate enough to have been directly involved with many proprietary technologies during my current role at ProSep. This has improved my knowledge of typically conventional technologies which many clients are beginning to recognise as a technically sound alternative. From this, the installation of the ECLIPSE mixer for gas dehydration on Equinor’s Troll B platform in the North Sea has been by far my greatest achievement; I was directly involved from the initial discussions, design and testing of the mixer before final installation.
I think, as with anyone in recent years, the biggest challenge has been the downtown in the industry. I was worried about my position in the industry as I only had 3-4 years’ experience but fortunately, due to the nature of ProSep’s portfolio I and the company were in a good position within the market place. As our core products offer cost saving and process optimisations many operators realised that in the drive to minimise costs our products could offer considerable benefits. ProSep were afforded opportunities to present and share knowledge of ways they couldn’t before.
I have always had an interest and passion for maths and science. I have always had an appetite for understanding how things work and operate; the process life cycle of how things can be made.
I believe I am open minded and willing to learn. I feel that an important attribute to grow as an engineer is to ask questions and fully understand what is going on as failing to do so can result in inefficient and unsafe design – cliched as it is, there really is no such thing as a silly question. When I began my career, I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who took the time to ensure I was exposed to different areas of the industry – mechanical, operations, design, control and instrumentation, not just process. I believe this mentorship from day one has shaped me as an engineer and my eagerness to want to share knowledge and learn from my peers ensures I continue to grow and develop.
With being involved in designing equipment that is not only a technically advanced solution but one that offers additional benefits in terms of environmental and safety aspects, such as reduction in usage of harmful chemicals, I would like to see a stronger focus/push from operators to commit and invest to reduce and optimise the use of harmful chemicals. A common obstacle is overcoming existing methods that are “well known” and cheap rather than benefiting from new and improved systems that can reduce OPEX by improving the process therefore reducing chemical usage, transport and storage needs; ultimately improving the process from an HSE point of view too.
From my experience, it is not a “male” industry like it may have been perceived as in the past. I travel often to Norway for meetings and most of the attendees’ present are female. Even as an undergraduate the class was almost split 50/50 male and female and as I graduated the classes became more female dominated. So, I would encourage any female thinking of stepping into the industry to grasp the opportunities that come your way and seek to find a mentor who will help guide you as you progress.