What it takes to be an oil and gas service engineer

Eduardo Hurtado is a Regional Manager at Fluenta and an expert in managing onshore and offshore commissioning, maintenance and technology projects in the Americas. Before becoming Regional Manager, Eduardo was a Field Service Engineer (FSE). He ensured Fluenta was compliant with all safety and security regulations, identifying additional training needs and developing safe working procedures for the project management team. We caught up with Eduardo to follow a day in the life of a professional field service engineer and discuss how the role is set to change in the future.

What does a Fluenta field service engineer do?

It depends on whether they are in the office or spending a day in the field. At our base they usually work in research and development, engage in training other field service engineers, practice troubleshooting and prepare themselves for the next challenge. They also engage with customers to talk about how we provide services and work closely with the sales team to maximise new business opportunities.

In the field, the day to day becomes more physically demanding. To catch a flight, start times are as early as 5am, followed by travel times of 3-18 hours and drives as long as six hours. When an FSE arrives onsite they troubleshoot equipment, ensure everything is working correctly and conduct maintenance on parts that need attention. They also act as project manager and provide professional expertise.

Why are service engineers important to the oil and gas industry?

Everyday operations in the industry are extremely complex. As FSEs our main function is to provide expertise, assist end users with our products and support their operations. Without a team that has the skills, knowledge and passion for servicing equipment, there is a potential risk of failure, explosions and even loss of life. It’s why we train extensively in safety and security, ensuring we do risk assessments and job safety analyses that will keep everybody safe and run the operation securely.

Could you tell us about the safety training for service engineers?

We work in extremely hazardous environments with potentially dangerous equipment – so safety is incredibly important. OSHA-30 is a 30-hour training course for construction and general industry health and safety that most engineers working in the field undertake. At Fluenta we go one step beyond and undertake OSHA-132. As the name suggests, our service engineers undergo 132 hours of safety training experience on top of the 30 hours from OSHA-30 to become fully-fledged safety gurus.

Do you have any interesting stories from working in the field?

I have some great stories about the extreme weather conditions when I was in the service management team – working in “extreme” low (north pole) and high temperatures creates some great anecdotes to tell friends and family! The job requires you to do whatever it takes, whether by plane, train, boat, car of often flying in helicopters. We travel to different countries and cities, seeing cultures, people and work procedures that vary in every location. It has been an eye-opening experience.

I also had the opportunity to visit Point Thompson – arguably the world’s most important oil and gas project managed by the Exxon Mobil corporation. As a professional it has been the most valuable and incredible project to work on.

How do you think the role will change in 50 years?

Engineering professionals will always be needed to service different types of machinery and technology. As the oil and gas industry grows increasingly more complex our jobs will follow suit. While I look forward to the additional benefits of new technology, I do not think automation will replace my role entirely. It will however help support service engineers and the general industry, and I look forward to other innovations coming our way in the next 50 years. The great thing about working in Fluenta is that we are always adapting to new training techniques, ensuring we are ready for whatever comes our way.

August 6, 2018 | News

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