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Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

(OP)


Dear all,

I'm a maintenance engineer with a Beng(Hons) in Mechanical engineering & i would like to change the field for the oil/gas sector.
I would like to know if someone can help with steps to take to get in engineering withinin the oil/gas sector.
Is it any training to take or will it be easy to be trained on the job which will be very easy as i can adapt in short space of time.
Actually i'm working as site & senior maintenance engineer for the past 6 -7 years for a food factory but wanted to change the field; but what attracts me more it's the oil/gas sector. I'm sure i can adapt easily in any of the department from valves, piping, to oil production...
I live in London but willing to relocate if necessary..


Any help will be really appreciated...

Regards,
Guyblo

RE: Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

I'm not sure what the UK job market looks like these days. Prior to the stupid ban on frac'ing it looked like the shale in southern England was going to take off, but the politicians stopped that. There is still work in Aberdeen, but not many entry-level Engineers get hired into North Sea jobs anymore. Today the most common path from college (or another field) is to hire on with Haliburton, Schlumberger, or BJ. The work mostly sucks. The locations really suck. The hours suck even more. The pay ain't great. The experience is priceless. Spend 5 years as a Log Engineer, as a Tools Engineer, as a Frac Engineer and then (if you stick it out, and if you make any worthwhile contacts within production companies) you can get hired on to a production company without a lot of drama.

The other path is through an intern program (each major company has their own cute name for them, "Challenger" seems to be a favorite). If BP, Exxon/Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, or Conoco/Phillips recruits at your alma mater then you might be able to sign up for an on-campus interview. The only off-campus route into the intern programs is to know someone with a connection to the program.

In either case it will be a rare thing for your 7 years in a food factory to count for much at all. Sometimes in some places for some jobs all the stars will align and you'll come in as an experienced Engineer, but for every one of those stories there are 20 stories where the Engineer started out at entry level.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle of injustice Frédéric Bastiat

RE: Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

Guyblo,

Changing industries is never easy, but is possible if approached the right way and not expecting quick solutions.

First you need to have some idea of what it is you would like to do - "engineering within the oil/gas sector" covers a huge range of work. Do you mean design work? In which case you need to figure out a discipline as most of the big design houses in London (Worley Parsons, Foster wheeler, KBR, Fluor, Bechtel etc) etc work on a pretty tight discipline division of piping, mechanical (valves etc), rotating machinery, structures, civil etc.

consultant engineering companies are a bit more flexible, but the lack of relevant experience make sit difficult to sell you so you would need to drop a couple of grades and arrange for a training period before more rapid promotion to mathch your experience in project management. in the last few years the design engineering industry has seen some entrants form other sources. I recently saw a maintenance engineer through a period of acclimatisation and it took about two years before he stopped making silly mistakes due to lack of experience and has finally turned into a very useful pipeline engineer / mechanical engineer.

The route zdas04 suggests is more akin to a oil company operations engineer and work much more at the pointy end of the oil and gas working envelope.

You probably need to talk to a few HR depts. in the bigger design houses or the London consultancies and look closely at your skills and experience in the realms of piping design, mechanical design (valves, piping components), rotating machinery etc if this is your desire, plus ability to work to deadlines, project manage contractors etc and see how it goes. Just don't expect to earn what you're currently on for a while, but the ride is worth it.

My motto: Learn something new every day

Also: There's usually a good reason why everyone does it that way

RE: Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

I've worked with and consulted for several of the companies that LittleInch mentions and one thing that really caught my eye was the fact that the people I worked with were not tied to Oil & Gas. The next project in the door at KBR might be a mine, a power plant, a refinery, or a new gas field development. Any Engineer is subject to be pulled into any of those.

If you want to be a Facilities Engineer in Oil & Gas, the most common path is through an internship with a Major. I don't see a lot of ex-Fluor Engineers on-staff doing field work for my clients like I do see a lot of ex-Haliburton Engineers doing Operations Engineering for my clients--on the mechanical side the path from big-name contractor to on-staff is really tough (that might be because the big-name contractors are seen in the industry as trying to rape and steal and no personal relationships are encouraged). I would not advise going to Foster Wheeler (for example) in Reading if your are looking for a job in Oil & Gas.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle of injustice Frédéric Bastiat

RE: Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

zdas04 - I agree with you - the big design houses design all sorts of things and that's why they organise themselves in disciplines which are not industry dependant. It's probably more the "horses for courses" aspect that leads ex oil field service company people working for oil company ops departments more than design engineers, plus the issue that you are what you've done after a few years, not necessarily what you'd like to do. I like site work every now and the - but not all the time - but I can see the attraction - all depends on what floats your boat.

In my opinion guyblo is doing it just about at the right time before the drop in pay and status becomes too great...

My motto: Learn something new every day

Also: There's usually a good reason why everyone does it that way

RE: Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

There are 12 LNG terminal-conversion projects that have been approved in the US in 2013 (to convert import terminals to export terminals), there is a Gas-to-Liquids plant in Louisiana that is scheduled to spend $20 billion in 2014 after a decade of stalled permits. There is no guarantee that the EPA or Congress won't step in at the 11th hour and enforce the regulatory ban on exports, but if they don't then the game changes right here, right now. These projects result in natural gas prices in the US on the order of $5-6/MSCF. At that price the rig count nearly doubles and the work for Facilities Engineers increases exponentially. If this scenario plays out, then by 2015 we will be pulling expats home at a rate not seen since 1985--tho jobs they are currently in have to be filled by someone. If the EPA, DOE, and Congress can bring themselves to just let this happen then then number of great Facilities Engineering jobs in this industry around the world doubles between now and 2020. I don't see that scenario as a "drop in pay and status" over the next decade.

The US has such a glut of natural gas that our wellhead prices are very low and capital spending in gas is very very low. That very likely changes in 2014 (without adverse government intervention). I can't think of a better time to come into the industry.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle of injustice Frédéric Bastiat

RE: Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

What I meant to say was the "temporary" drop in pay and status while you learn a new industry.

Is there a current ban on export of hydrocarbons in the US?

Sounds like still a good time to join the oil and gas industry and the demographic issues of not many 15 to 25 yr experience engineers won't go away.

My motto: Learn something new every day

Also: There's usually a good reason why everyone does it that way

RE: Step to take for a maintenance engineer from food production to get into petrol/gas engineering

The ban came about because of the Arab Oil Embargo in the 1970's. It was always a big problem for the North Slope Oil (whose crude matched the needs of a couple of Gulf Coast and a couple of Indonesian refineries and didn't fit well with the West Coast capabilities, the original economics had the oil going from Valdez to Indonesia for refining, the export ban forced it to the Gulf Coast which caused some ugly logistics issues). Basically the way the law is, Congress must approve each export license and new licenses have been slow coming (because export will put upward pressure on US prices of natural gas).

At the beginning of 2013 there were upwards of 40 export licenses pending and only one had been issued. That plant is expecting 2014 exports. A bunch of LNG terminals are spending money to add export capability so they must have gotten licenses that I missed. Not associated with export, the Gas to Liquids plant in Louisiana is spending money for the first time in a decade (this month's Pipeline & Gas magazine announced the contracts being let).

With 40% of the gas on the market in the US having come from Shale in 2013 (shale gas was under 1% of 1997 production) mostly fields less than 10 years of production history and 50-75 year lives), my crystal ball says that this industry in in for a serious growth spurt.


David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle of injustice Frédéric Bastiat

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