Reflective Essay - Work experience
3.1 IntroductionDuring my undergraduate degree in BITS Pilani, Dubai, I enrolled in Practice School-2, which is a semester long subject that ensures students earn professional experience during their study as engineers. I was positioned as a trainee in electrical maintenance engineer at Robt. Stone (ME) LLC for a period of 5 months (4th July 2010 to 25th November 2010), where I was trained on various projects concerning the operations of the organization and electrical maintenance carried out in the Oil and Gas industry. After the first two months of introduction and training, I was placed in the OH&S department to learn and assist in document handling for risk recognition, assessment and planning.3.2The training was provided in phases. The first phase comprised of an introduction to the company policies and processes including maintaining quality standards and OHS, overview of the company and the vision, mission and core values of the organization. I learned that Robt Stone [ME] LLC is a prominent organization in the Oil and Gas industry in the Middle East and North Africa region. In the course of my introduction to the company, I was introduced to the different services that the company provided to the industry. The quality and OHS protocols were of the highest standards following ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004, and OHSAS 18001:2007, which I could see from the vast procedures and precautions taken by the planning engineers.3.3I was then introduced to project management, which began in the head office at Abu Dhabi. This phase of the training included participating in meetings, which were for planning or progress reporting on the various projects. Attending these meetings gave me insight to the various projects and their demands.
For example, one of the projects was facing multiple issues, causing a delay in handover, and hence increasing the costs of the project. The members of the meeting came up with various solutions and enablers, to help speed up the project. I was also asked for some input, and I suggested that some sites could share their more manpower resources. I also suggested adding working shifts, past sunset by paying overtime to the workers. These ideas were widely supported, and I was encouraged to participate more frequently in the meetings.Through this phase, I realized that project planning was a long and tedious process. At the end of the first month, I was assigned to formulate a rough/draft project plan for electrical maintenance of a standard asset on a functional site. I first inquired from my supervisor the scope of the project and the key stakeholders for the project and based on that information, formulated the scope statement and the stakeholder strategy. I then wrote about the impact of this project plan on those stakeholders, including time and cost impacts. Then I established a timeline of the tasks to do and a breakeven chart, with fictitious numbers, and a cost estimate by listing the various resources. I also created a document called “Top 10 risk items” and a project management plan outline.
The project management plan outline included three main headings: "Project Organization," "Managerial Process" and "Technical Process." From this project management plan, I learned that technology interacts with people in various contexts and both, people and technology, affect each other positively and negatively. I received encouraging feedback from my supervisor. Although my project plan included the managerial process and technical process, my supervisor deduced that I had to be trained about the organization’s hierarchy, its procedures, and quality standards on sites.3.4The next phase of training was provided by the electrical team, who took the initiative to introduce me to the electrical works on sites, progressively, and I began to learn the practical issues faced in installation and maintenance of electrical assets. Through this phase, I also learned about procurement, erection, and installation of tanks, electrical and telecom works and pipeline and plant maintenance. The training began with introduction and site visits to the substations and control rooms that power up the equipment and control the field equipment and instruments. Each week, I accompanied the electrical engineer to a particular site, read manuals, and work breakdown structure (WBS) of the works being carried out. I was encouraged to give feedback on WBS and ask questions when I had doubts. Several times, I raised issues of safety procedures enlisted in the WBS of jobs.
I also participated in site walk-around, where the engineering supervisor explained to me the features of the assets that were employed by the site and the main issues being faced. For example, the most common issues faced are short circuit, tripping, earthing problems, etc. I learned that the MV and LV systems tripped due to loading designs.3.5My supervisor then introduced me to technical drawings, specifications and documents for electrical designs of switchgear, MV, and LV panels, solar system panels and batteries. I was also explained the process maintenance of main distribution boards, light distribution boards and motor operated valves. These systems were in substations and control rooms at each site. I began learning the processes and procedures of testing these systems. I learned to inspect visual faults, reading meters and identifying how the various panels reported faults. The fault notification display reported date, time and cause of a fault or which part had fault. It was found that moisture repelling and solid insulation was crucial to the system's success."
A week later, I was taken to electrical safety department where I learnt about the challenges that the company faced resulting from electricity. I realized that the department has a substantive and clear work safety policy for all its electricians and other workers who may be affected by electricity. However, the company still experience fatalities caused by electrical reasons. The company is now engaging experienced electrical engineers to ensure that the system is in a good state for reliability and safety reasons. Since electrical equipment and installations are defined basing on standards, the engineers have been instructed to ensure they deliver the expected quality. I did an analysis of all section within the company that experienced most electrical faults. I also submitted recommendations on what further safety measures could be put in place by the company to ensure that all workers operate in a healthy and safety environment.
The next stage of my internship was about the process of Emergency Shutdown and Process Shutdown. I was introduced to the Emergency Shutdown (ESD) and Process Shutdown (PSD) systems. These systems are initiated when the production become malfunction or dangerous. The process is said to be malfunctioned when there is a risk of Blow-by that is, gas leaking out of the oil output giving high pressure in the next separation stage. I discovered that separate transmitters are provided for both systems. For instance, LTLL (Level Transmitter Low Low) or LSLL (Level Switch Low Low) alarm is placed on the oil level. The transmitters are used because of their quality diagnostic characteristics over switches. The process involves the isolation and depressurization of oil. The inlets and outlets are, therefore, closed by sectioning valves (EV 0153 20, EV 0108 20 and EV 0102 20) and open the blowdown valve (EV 0114 20).
During this period, a team of electrical engineers was invited to the company to identify the causes of malfunctioned oil production process that were increasingly occurring. The team realized that the company was using a low Safety Integrity Level. It recommended upgrading this system to a high Safety Integrity Level 2 or 3. I was tasked with mounting the system with the required equipment to undertake the upgrade. The equipment’s included field-mounted sensors, valves, and trip relays. I connected the two with the system logic for processing of incoming signals, alarm, and HMI units. I did this in accordance with Cause & Effect charts defining the installation process, which was provided to me by my supervisor. I was glad to have a system in place that was able to process input signals and activate outputs as required by the chart.
My supervisor then introduced me to a more administrative than practical office. It was my opportunity to sharpen my administrative skills. I joined investor services department where all partnerships between the company and other stakeholders are devised. I found out the company had various plans of collaborating with other investors to increase the revenue so as it can expand its drilling operations. There was a lot of information flowing into this department from all concerned sources. As an intern, I worked so closely under the guidance of my supervisor to consolidate these details of partnership and investment process. The work helped to develop a greater understanding of how the company raises revenue and the legal framework regulating this process.
I was responsible for ensuring that all subscription documents and investor information are properly documented and safely filed. I was to enter all these information into the company's system in a timely manner. The department enabled me to learn how financial model works using the company's historical production of oil and gas. I discovered how these finances are distributed to investors. I also learnt a lot on the time value of money whenever the company is projecting its returns on investments. I realized that finance and investment is part and parcel of the oil and gas industry, which must be considered for oil industry development.
I got an opportunity to engage different employers in the entire department to get to understand each part of the industry. The corporate offices in the company have employees working in geology, engineering, and land management. This great workforce gave me a good chance to learn about the technical of the business and the functions of the company. Everyone in this department seemed well acquainted with their duties and was helpful in my understanding of how the company functions.
The experience in the department helped me in becoming a better worker myself. There were occasions I found myself in that forced me to do things on my own. This was crucial since my supervisor was not always there to see what I do in the corporate department. After one on one conversation with various people seeking services in this department, I realized how hard it was to work in this office especially when there is a conflict between the company and an outside. I however learnt through the process while seeking advice on how to handles such disputes whenever the concerned officer was not available to handle them.
The internship period was very essential in enhancing my practical skills in oil and gas industry. I joined the company with meager knowledge about the basics of the industry and in particular economic background of the company. Part of the experience I gained from the internship is working with other people who allowed me to gain knowledge on an intimate level. As an intern, I got a chance to learn through observation and interrogation about the complex and dynamic oil and gas industry. The internship helped to see things in the eye of a supervisor. The supervisor and other workers in a managerial position often have complaints and comments about the daily happenings in the company. There are guidelines and protocols that everyone must follow that do not allow people to exercise total discretion when they are working. After this experience, I can confidently say that I am looking forward to opportunities in the industry that apply what I have learned through the internship program.