What's your job about?
Shell QGC is a natural gas producer, operating from Central Queensland supplying both the domestic market and export Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) via the Midstream Operations in Gladstone.
I work in the Turnaround Team. Turnarounds are when we shut-down the major facilities to complete scheduled maintenance. This is a critical time for the business to complete required maintenance tasks, but also to complete it safely, and therefore requires a lot of preparation and planning to ensure a smooth shutdown and start-up.
Our team is split between a Brisbane based Functional Team, and a Field Based Planning and Execution team. Together, both teams support each other in delivering the requirements for each of the Phases of the Turnaround Process. At QGC we execute multiple Turnarounds each year, so there is always a lot of planning and preparation to meet key milestones, as well as collaboration with many other functions of the business.
My role as a Turnaround Engineer involves supporting the Field teams on planning and execution. This also includes costing and estimating budgets for each Turnaround Event. I am currently working on a Project to review our Turnaround Strategy to extend the time between Turnarounds. This project involves me working with many different stakeholders such as Discipline Engineers, Operations, Maintenance and Reliability.
What's your background?
I grew up on a property, near Young in NSW. I have three other siblings, all now living in different states and countries. When I left high school, I had no clear career path, and it never crossed my mind that I’d be working for Shell in the years to come. After spending about 7 years working in the Hospitality scene in Melbourne, I was determined to get back into studying. I naturally landed into Chemical Engineering based on my keen interest in the food industry, but also for the wide range of career options this degree would provide. I applied for a vast number of Graduate Positions, not only in Melbourne, but around Australia covering diverse industries, including Water, Food, Pharmaceuticals, Mining and Oil and Gas. Note - only one other extended family member studied Engineering, so I had no influence or knowledge of what Engineering entailed.
Joining the Upstream Production Graduate Program with Shell has allowed me an insight into both corporate life, as well as having the ability to spend almost two years in the field working a rotational roster. Having the ability to gain front-line work experience is invaluable in my learning of the Natural Gas industry and has really set me up for future roles.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes. I was placed into the Upstream Production Graduate Program which covers three different skill pools including – Maintenance, Reliability and Turnarounds (MRTA), Production Operations and Logistics. Currently, there are graduates in the same Grad Program who have Mechanical, Process, and Petroleum Engineering Degrees. My colleague, another Turnaround Engineer, has a Mechanical Engineering background. Ultimately, an Engineering Degree is required for Technical Roles, but having the ability to show that you have the initiative to find solutions and are willing to learn will add heaps of value.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I get to work with lots of people, including Shell Staff, and external Contractors during the Execution of Turnarounds. Between these teams is a wealth of knowledge from Electrical, Rotating Equipment, Instrumentation, Process and Lifting and Hoisting, just to name a few. Being able to attend Turnaround Executions, when the facilities are offline and de-pressurised, vessels open for inspection, valves are changed out, and other interesting Projects are completed, allows you to see what’s involved in making the facilities run, and learn from the technicians. I also get to break up my work time between being in the Brisbane office and travelling out to Chinchilla or the other assets in Central Queensland which keeps work exciting.
What are the limitations of your job?
When I was on a rotational roster, it is quite demanding working 2 weeks straight, but you are rewarded with 2 weeks off! On the other hand, now being based in Brisbane, means that you can’t just visit one of the assets if you need to, and must rely on having a strong relationship with the Field teams for assistance.
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