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Internship in New Zealand – a rookie’s journey into the world of oil and gas

This summer, engineering student Ákos Kiss went on an exciting trip: A journey to the other side of the world, from his study desk deeply into the oil and gas business.

The 25-year-old Ákos Kiss was given an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, namely to experience the Upstream business hands on: From doing an underwater escape training and flying with a helicopter to visiting an offshore oil field. The drilling and production engineering student holds an OMV Excellence  Master Scholarship from the International Petroleum Academy at Montanuniversität Leoben, which qualified him for an internship in OMV New Zealand last summer.

We’re lucky he kept a travelogue – let’s take a look at it and the excitement of the offshore world, as seen through the eyes of an ambitious rookie.

During the many of years of studying at university, it was always my dream to test myself in an offshore environment and I cannot imagine a better place in the world than New Zealand for that.
Ákos Kiss, Junior Production Technologist at OMV

A rookie’s travelogue

I wrote a bucket list a couple of years ago and one of the items was to see the Southern Cross, which is a cross-shaped asterism. It is only visible from the southern hemisphere, so if you see it, it means you have travelled far away from Europe. I had never been to the southern hemisphere before … until this summer.

It was 8:30 am on July 10, 2015 when the biggest journey of my life started and a dream became reality. A car was waiting for me in front of my flat in my hometown of Miskolc, Hungary, to take me to the airport. Destination: Wellington, New Zealand.
 

Part I: New Zealand, Wellington (North Island)

After a 30 hour journey, I finally made it to the OMV office in Wellington.

On my first day I was introduced to the whole team and got an insight of what it really means to put safety first here in New Zealand: Since earthquakes are a big concern in this region, I got a lot of information about the necessary measures in case the ground shakes. Luckily I didn’t experience any earthquakes, but nevertheless I used the next four weeks to thoroughly examine the underground. My main task was to create a material balance modelling – a computer model used to investigate reservoir systems – of Maari oil field together with the Petroleum Engineering team. Maari is the largest oil field in New Zealand and the first offshore oil field development operated by OMV.

So while I was studying numerous field reports in the office during the day, I spent my evenings reading an amazing book which I found on my bookshelf in the office: Don’t Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I’m a Piano Player in a Whorehouse, written by Paul Carter. It’s the most entertaining book I’ve ever read about life on a drilling rig, I can highly recommend it to everybody. It seemed like the perfect reading with regard to the adventures ahead of me.

In my last week in Wellington I gave my final presentation in front of the whole Petroleum Engineering team and submitted my report. I was quite proud since the feedback about my work was good. Time to move on to New Plymouth.


Part II: New Plymouth (North Island)

Separates the men from the boys: The BOSIET – Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training

I started my stay in New Plymouth with the exciting BOSIET – which I had been looking forward to a lot. This 3-day safety training is mandatory for everyone who goes to an offshore platform or FPSO vessel (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading). The training consists of six main sections: safety induction, sea survival, evacuation and TEMPSC (Totally Enclosed Motor Propelled Survival Craft), helicopter safety and escape, first aid, firefighting and self-rescue.

You can see a few impressions in the following gallery:


Part III: Ensco 107 jack-up rig visit at Port Taranaki

My project in the New Plymouth office was to learn about Electrical Submersible Pumps, and investigate pump histories and failures. Beyond these theoretical studies, I was very delighted to visit a real attraction – at least for a drilling engineer: the Ensco 107 jack-up rig at the Port of Taranaki.

Ensco 107 is the rig that was used during the Maari drilling projects, also for the Maari Growth project. It is currently awaiting its up-grade after a successful drilling campaign in the region. It was the first time ever I saw an offshore rig live, and it was really impressive.


Part IV: The best is yet to come – offshore on the Raroa FPSO

At the start of September, I was allowed to stay on the Raroa FPSO vessel (Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading) for a few days, which was definitely the highlight of my internship. The Rarora is situated in the Maari Field, approximately 80 km offshore south-west of New Plymouth, a flight of about 45 to 60 minutes.

The trip was simply amazing as well as the view, however after a while the sky got really cloudy and visibility fell to zero, so the pilots could only rely on their instruments. Once we approached the field and lowered the elevation, I caught sight of the vessel. It seemed enormous: 253 m long, 42 m wide.

The colleagues on board were really kind and keen to share their knowledge. On the first day I met with the offshore installation manager. He has overall responsibility for the Raroa and the Wellhead Platform called Tiro Tiro Moana. His position is equivalent to the Captain position of a ship and he is also responsible for the safety of all personnel.

This was my first time offshore so I was really amazed by the facility, people and environment. I learned and experienced a lot during this week and understood the challenges and difficulties which come with working on such a vessel. The shift started at 6:30 am and lasted until 6:30 pm but we were usually awake from 5:45 am and started with the breakfast and a morning meeting. Talking about breakfast: the food is amazing offshore… I am really glad and thankful that I had a chance to spend these days on the Raroa.
 

Saying goodbye to New Zealand

These two months passed by really quickly and I was sad when it came to the last day of my internship. It was an amazing experience and great to meet all the people who work at the different locations. I tried to get as much practical experience as possible and I’m very grateful that I was offered this incredible opportunity.

And after all – I’ve now seen the Southern Cross.

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