UK Oil Careers - Working In The North Sea
David Emery is employed as a Non-destructive rope access technician in the North Sea. To get an insight into his career in the North Sea, Jack Kane
caught up with him.
How long have you been working in the industry?
It's been seven years since I started work as an NDT tech in the North Sea.
How did you get into this role/position?
I completed my service in the UK armed forces in 2001. It was at this time I was offered a re-settlement package and it was then I decided to pursue
Non destructive testing and rope access in the North Sea. I did some research and was offered the opportunity to train in this field.
Where are you based, and what does your job as an N.D.T technician involve?
My role as NDT technician involves testing the integrity of welds and metals with a range of testing equipment to make sure they remain safe and
support load. I work as part of an eight man team in the Brent field for a company called RBG Ltd which is turn contracted to Shell UK. Our team is
currently working inside the columns which lie below the rig. We gain access to them by abseiling down via rope. This particular part of the rig is a gas
tight sealed area which means we have to wear full breathing apparatus and take a range of safety precautions. Once inside the columns I inspect the
structure with a range of testing equipment such as Ultrasonic and Magnetic Particle inspection. The other members of my team repair and clean the
structure. Our goal is to make sure that this important part of the rig remains stable and fully functional for the next ten to fifteen years.
Where did you train, and what did it involve?
My training was completed with a company called Talon in Aberdeen, Scotland. The training initially lasted for four weeks and I was trained in testing
methods such as; Dye penetration, Ultrasonic, and Magnetic Particle Inspection. I'm frequently assessed to maintain my certificates and am now
trained to Level 3 standard.
Did you find the training hard?
There are parts of the course which do require a substantial amount of study and practice. With time your confidence grows and you manage to get
over the difficulties you found when you first begun. Gradually you acquire a routine system of doing things and it eventually becomes second nature.
What do you appreciate most from your job?
Coming from an Army background I enjoy working as part of a team and the satisfaction gained from a job well done. The people you work with really
make a difference to your every working day, and I'm lucky because the majority of people working in the North Sea are hard-working, and a pleasure
to work with.
What is your favorite memory working in the North Sea?
I have one particular memory when I was working in the southern sector of the North Sea inspecting the unmanned satellite rigs. My colleague and I
got dropped off by helicopter, and were left alone for around six hours to inspect the structure. It was an awesome experience, being alone on such as
small structure in the middle of the North Sea, so far from dry land. It was a beautiful sunny day and a moment I will never forget.
What advice would you give for people considering a career in the industry?
I would advise them to do as much research on the path they are interested in, before they start the training course for it. The training is expensive so
they should spend time examining what exactly is involved in the job. They need to ensure they have enough funding to cover them for six months
after the training commences. Right now the oil companies are keen on hiring candidates with experience. There appears to be a lot more experienced
and skilled workers than there was before, and this means the companies can hand pick who they want to hire. I would encourage them to be
prepared and to stay determined until they get their first start. I found from my experience that it worked better not hassling the companies but being
courteous and polite and simply making them aware that I was available and willing to work. It really helps if you get on a first name basis with the
individual who manages the recruitment. If you are professional on the phone and polite, eventually you will get the all important call to work.
About the Author
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